Learning from a grieving grandmother. An experience to share
Grieving grandmother. Psychologist. Psychology Area Coordinator; Palliative Care Unit, Hospital E. Tornú- Federación Médica de la Provincia de Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Grandchildren can play a decisive role in the lives of grandparents, as they help to strengthen the bond with their children and promote experiences of legacy and transcendence at different stages of the life cycle. Perinatal loss of a grandchild implies double suffering: the loss of a grandchild and the witnessing of their own son or daughter’s suffering. Upon the death of a newborn baby in the family, the grandparents often remain alone with their pain, deprived of any emotional support and obliged to show strength for their children. Sharing the lesson learned is costly for both the direct suffering parts (parents), and for those closely related to the same loss. Although the experience of mourning is unique and personal, it may be very useful to share it, especially when the type of grief does not receive all the social support it deserves.
Based on the author’s personal experience whose daughter, first-time mother who lived in a foreign country (UK), experienced the unexpected devastating loss of her newborn baby. This work describes some of the most relevant lessons learnt in the process of healing which goes from the post-traumatic stress caused by the loss to the conviction that sharing, meeting other grandparents in similar situations, and talking about what happened, can be a healer and help to the community.
What to say and what to avoid; how to manage emotions; how to accompany the daughter/ son in grief; when to ask for help, and the possible growth after pain. These are some of the main topics to be shared with other grandparents, health professionals, parents and other family members.
Sharing what has been learned in a peer group as well as transmitting it to professionals in contact with relatives bereaved as a result of perinatal losses has a psycho-educational objective: as an aid in process of grief, and to give meaning to the suffering experienced.
No ethics approval required.
Key words: Perinatal death, Bereavement care, Grieving grandparents