Patient Information – Learning About SIDS: FAQs
Coming to Terms with Grief
Children are not supposed to die. The first few months after a child's birth are times of happiness; there is that wonderful feeling of the growing physical and emotional attachment between the child and the parents. Suddenly, an apparently healthy infant is dead. In most cases, the death occurred after the child was put down for sleep, usually at home - a time and place that is associated with warmth and security. The child's life has ended before it really began, and all parental expectation and hopes have ended abruptly.
There is no time to prepare, and there is no adequate explanation for the death. The involvement of the legal and medical systems often means a loss of privacy at a time when members of the family want to be alone with their grief. There may be possible community suspicion and rejection. Very often the loss of an infant is a couple's first encounter with death and personal loss. Bewilderment and numbness characterize most parents' reactions to their child's death. Because the child's death cannot be explained by an obvious cause, many couples blame each other or themselves. Parents may feel that somehow they have failed – that there was something that could have been done to prevent the death. These feelings of guilt are common. But parents must understand that there was nothing that could have been done.