The Loss of a Grandchild
By Pamela Kraus, Ella’s NaNa
Being a parent and then a grandparent are two of life’s greatest joys. We love our children and desire only the best of everything for them. We protect them as best we can, hurt with them from the first time they fall and desire to take all their pains away. We have hopes and dreams for their futures being filled with peace, joy, success, and a family of their own to love as deeply as we love them. But what happens when unimaginable loss and pain suddenly enters their lives? I found out the answer to that question three years ago when my youngest daughter and her husband lost their thirteen-month-old daughter very suddenly to an undiagnosed genetic heart condition.
I realized that grandparents actually experience a two-fold grief. Grandchildren are like jewels that adorn our lives. They are precious and priceless treasures. When one of them is suddenly taken from us, the pain of that loss is indescribable. Our hearts are broken and filled with grief at the loss of that beautiful grandchild, while at the same time we grieve that our own child is suffering the tragedy of losing their child. The weight of that two-fold loss can be overwhelming for many grandparents.
When a child dies, the parents are usually surrounded by friends and family asking if there is anything they might need. This is as it should be. We want our children to have as much support as possible to help them stay afloat in that sea of grief into which they have been thrown. Because grandparents are focused on being strong and helping their children, they are often not recognized as someone who might also need some support. This is not an intentional slight, nor is it anyone’s responsibility to know what we might need. It is just not something that occurs to people.
Sometimes talking to someone close to you (a spouse, a family member, a friend) about what you are feeling can be all the help and comfort you need. I found that reaching out to others who have gone through the loss of a grandchild was a great way to get helpful insight and support. This website can also be a great resource for you. Remember that we all desire to help our children through what is most likely the worst experience of their lives, and to do that we have to be on strong footing.