While we celebrate September as National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, it is important to understand that many infant deaths are preventable. During this month, efforts are made to encourage everyone to contribute to the cause of infant mortality prevention.
The loss of a loved one is incomparable to any other bereavement, and an infant’s death is a profound loss with no equivalent. Loss of an infant is the worst thing to happen to parents. It not only leaves you angry, sad, confused, and shattered emotionally, but also may cause physical duress with emotions of depravity, haplessness, and devastation overpowering you. The loss may feel overwhelming and unbearable.
The Grieving Process
Your child may have died before or immediately after birth, but irrespective of how you lost your baby, you may feel overwhelmed by feelings of grief. Infant death causes you to experience a range of emotions, including:
- Guilt: The loss of a child is so overpowering that you tend to feel guilty of having failed to save your baby from the clutches of death. You may keep wondering if you could have done something to avoid the loss.
- Denial: You might find yourself in a constant state of denial, disbelief, and shock over what has transpired. The shock of infant death may leave you emotionally shattered to believe that your infant is no more.
- Depression: It is common to develop symptoms of depression over the loss of child. You may experience loss of interest in normal activities, trouble sleeping, changes in eating habits, loss of focus, and difficulty in making decisions.
- Yearning: Extreme reaction to the loss of a child may be in the form of anxiety feelings that cause you to react at the sight of a mother feeding her infant or playing with her baby. There may be feelings of deep longing to be with your baby. This type of feeling may even transpire into envy, making you envious of expectant mothers around you.
Miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature birth are some of the causes of infant death, which cause you not only emotional pain, but also physical strain. Abdominal pain or cramping, vaginal spotting or bleeding, and fluid passing from vagina are forms of extreme physical pain that are linked to miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death, causing you emotional and physical pain. Overpowering grief may cause you to experience hysteria or even clinical depression, leading to other complications related to stress and anxiety, such as sleeplessness, loss of appetite, constant pain in arms, irritability, and inability to concentrate.
The loss of a child is boundless, touching every aspect of your parental being. The child was your world, whose death has left an indelible loss dent in your life. Grieving parents are survivors, who find life as a treacherous journey and find their own ways to express their sadness uniquely, often feeling lonely, alienated, and disconnected. However, they need to know that there are ways to grieve the loss. If your significant relationships seem to be suffering from your grief and loss of child, it is advised to seek counseling together. The road of bereavement will seem less treacherous and harsh when you realize there are many other parents in the same situation, grieving their child’s death. Getting in touch with other bereaved parents or trained parent supporters and support groups can go a long way in helping you overcome grief and put your life back on track.