Loss of a child. How to deal with it?

Nurses General Nursing


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140 Posts

First, Bedpan, your Doddlebug was and is beautiful!

Second, I personally don't think you will ever get over it, BUT, the pain will eventually not be the first thing you think of when you get up in the morning!

TIME does help us with dealing with devastation.

Everyone's time span is different.

I am sooooo sorry for your lost. I am sorry for your heart being broken!

But don't you give up. God will bring you joy again!


2,709 Posts

Youll do what you can do, and when you cant handle anymore, you'll say that you cant and a colleague will be there to step in. Its ok to say "I cant do this". Its ok to ask for a different assignment. Eventually, you will be able to handle it - maybe you'll lose composure after its all over - but thats ok too. And its also ok to chose not to work in areas that might put you into those kinds of life & death situations with children. But with any pt population, there are going to be times when all that you can do is help the pt have a peaceful passing and help the family bear it. And its ok to cry. Having once been where they are, your empathy, compassion, & understanding, could touch their lives in a way that no other RN could.

In the Journal Of the American Medical Assoc (JAMA - August 13, 2003 issue - vol 290 - #6), there is a very touching article (written by an MD) about a Pediatric ER nurse and how she made the difference for one grieving parent in his moment of tragedy. Most hospital's have the JAMA available for reading in their library. The article is titled "A Little Bit Longer" by David Spiro, MD.

I think those of you who have lost a child could be that nurse.

Specializes in Med-surg; OB/Well baby; pulmonology; RTS.

First, I want to say I'm sorry to those of you that have experienced a loss in your life-ANY loss.:o

I do not think you should discontinue your studies because of what has happened in your life. Yes, there may be times in your future nursing career that will be difficult because of the experience of losing your daughter, but as you said, you may be able to comfort a family one day who has to go through this pain OR spare them the agony of losing a child because you participated in the care of their child. Hope this makes sense....

As far as coming to terms with your loss, I don't think you ever do.

My first and only child died at the age of 12 days from complications of congenital heart defects-this was July 8, 2002.

I think of my son every day-I know in my heart I will love and miss him until the day I die.

The other folks here have made great suggestions that I have done myself: If you are having a "bad" day-tell someone; if a situation becomes too much and your patient is being taken care of-go and cry in the bathroom or lounge.

I wanted to post to links (if I can get them up here):

This one is to my son's webpage-has a summary of our story

Our Sweet Little Man

This one is for another grief support site that has a forum for those that have lost older children. It is also for those that have had a miscarriage, stillborn, or neonatal death:




80 Posts

First of all, please accept my condolences for the loss of your child.

I have a story about the experiences that my wife and I went through that might help you. My wife's little sister(18 years old) was diagnossed with cancer about 3 years ago, and after that she came to live with us because her parents couldn't speak English very well( couldn't communicate with the healthcare people) , so we took over the responsibilities of taking care of her while she was in treatment for the cancer. During the whole length of her illness until her death(1 year) my wife took care of everything, from encouragment, at the beginning, to bathing, brushing her teeth, feeding, and changing diapers for her at the end. The pain was excruciating for my wife's sister at the end and I remember nights when my wife would sit and massage Icy Hot on her sisters body for hours to help ease the pain. During this one year period her little sister went from being a sibling to being like our third child to my wife. Needless to say the whole ordeal was very trying for my wife, and when the end finally came, her grief was very heavy. She still carries the grief now two year after. But she made a deciscion to become a nurse from the experience she had with her sister. She wants to work in childrens oncology after her education is done. I worry because of this choice she made because I don't want her to relive the pain she experienced because of her sisters death. But she said that she wants to help other children that are going through with the pain her sister went through. I asked her if she will be able to handle watching the kids suffer, and would it bring back to many memories? She said that she's not sure, but that she feels that the experience with her sister was a calling for her to become a nurse, and she has dedicated herself to this goal. Well, she just got accepted to a BSN program and is starting this monday. Sometimes things happen and who knows why they do, but if we keep going and try to use the pain to fuel us in the right direction. A lot of times we will be suprised by the strength that the memory of that person will give us.

Good luck in which ever direction you choose, and may time and god's grace bring you peace. B.T.H


187 Posts

Specializes in insanity control.

I lost my son, Brett, to SIDS at 7 months. Ironically, I now work L&D, PP, & nursery. I have been at deliverys where the baby didn't make it and when i expressed my sorrow to the family, many ask what do you know about it? i can say in all honesty i have felt your pain, i have been where you are now, what can i do to assist you in your grief. So yes it is a good thing. follow your heart.


564 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care.

I am sorry for your loss. I can't even imagine the grief you've had to deal with. I think you'll make a fine nurse. I really don't know where you'll find your clich, but I know you'll find it.

Bedpan, I visited you site. I thought it was very tasteful and touching.


This is a devastating experience to say the least. In 1974 I miscarried my first child early on in the pregnancy. My second pregnancy resulted in a full term emergency C-Section and the birth of my son who passed away six days later. He had multiple anomalies and as a result of a chromosome study, I was the carrier of birth deffects. I had two subsequent pregnancies and abortions because I could not cope with the prospect of losing another child in such a way as I had lost my son. I had a tubal ligation by age 22 so I would not be confronted with the slighest possibilty of becoming pregnant. I had a "nervous breakdown" a year after my son died and I did not ever want a repeat performance. It is now 2003 and I have no children of my own. Sometimes I feel a sense of emptiness and other times I feel total relief. I remember looking at my son in his incubator hooked up to a ventilator and the incisions where he had had surgery because he was born with his intestines on the outside. I am amazed that that tiny little being lived 6 whole days with his curved spine, club foot and other anomalies. I really empathize with any and every one who has lost a child at any stage for any reason. You are entitled to your feelings and it is something you will carry with you for the rest of your life. I am an ICU nurse and I work with adults only. I could never have made it in peds. BUt whenever I nurture a patient, I feel like I am also nurturing myself. Nursing is a healing practice for all.

Cannot imagine how to deal with such a loss. As pedi nurse I have cared for co-worker's kids and some were lost to disease or injury. Co-workers are still here, doing what they can to provide compassionate care to someone's loved one. Do what you are comfortable with. You can always change your mind later. You do not have to plan the rest of your life right now.


12 Posts


I have also lost a child back in 92. She was my only daughter and I also have 2 boys. Her name was Jessica and she lived until one month before her first birthday without ever coming home from the hospital. So I too know your pain. Granted it has been many years now since her death but I am still very emotional about it all. I decided some years ago that I thought I wanted to be a nurse and after her death that desire became stronger so that I hopefully may help someone else's child or possibly the family themselves. I recently took my LPN boards and am waiting to find out if I passed right now. I've been back to a NICU within the past year and I lost it emotionally. I'm fine in the peds unit but just not the NICU and seeing all the machines again. So I suggest to take small steps at fulfilling your dreams until you find a place where you think you can make a difference until you know you can emotionally handle things. I can't say that it gets a lot easier because I have my times. But Jessica is always with me, I still wear her baby ring on my necklace everyday and talk to her in my prayers. Let me know if I can help you in anyway! Kim


134 Posts

I think you should go through with it. My little son died in June at 5 weeks old. Going through this has only wanted me to be a nurse even more. I want to work in a NICU, which is where he lived his whole life. I feel that I will be able to empathize with the parents really well. I also feel that I will be honoring him by helping to save babies like him. When I think about how I will react when a baby I am working with dies, I think that nothing will be worse than what I have already gone through. It would never be as bad as my own baby dying.

Edited to add: I also believe I will feel a strong connection to him there. I can't say for sure because I have not been back yet, but that is what I think.



Specializes in School Nursing, Ambulatory Care, etc..

I have not read all the posts, but I want to share my story with you.

I gave birth to my second set of twins in May of 99, in July of 99 one of them died due to SIDS. That was four years ago and not a day goes by that I do not think of David. I will never stop grieving - but, I have started living again (had lots of therapy to help with this.)

During the three days he was in the PICU prior to our turing the machine off, we had a wonderful nurse named Lisa. Lisa was the most caring, loving, skilled, and terrific nurse I had ever met. Prior to us "pulling the plug", Lisa and I cried together. In my state of grief, I tried to comfort her...I didn't want her to be sad for me.

After David's death, Lisa came to the funeral. Her being there made me feel like he was not just another patient - it made me feel like my baby was special to her.

I don't want to work in PICU - nor do I want to work in NICU - but, I want to be as good a nurse as Lisa, both for my patients and their families.

Please, PM me if you would like to. You will never "get over" the death of your child, but you certainly do not have to grieve alone.


735 Posts

Having lost a boy myself I sympathize with you.

You must grieve and realize your loss.

Keep up with your plan to become a nurse. It will do you well to not only continue with your life plans but it will also keep your mind off of the loss of your child.

It's been 17 years for me and sometimes I still cry for him.

I miss him still.


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