Do I need to talk with children about an unsuccessful pregnancy
The family is looking forward to replenishment: buying clothes for the baby. Toys, crib, stroller. Mom’s tummy is growing every month. But – it happens – for some reason the pregnancy is terminated, the newborn dies in childbirth or in the first month. How can parents behave with older children who have not waited for a brother or sister?
About perinatal losses, it is not customary to speak widely here yet. Nevertheless, these cases, alas, are not uncommon. Is it necessary to inform the child that his brother or sister is dead? Many adults believe that it is better to bypass this topic: why injure the child’s psyche? Growing up – learns. But there are a few questions that sooner or later confront parents. We will answer them with the help of Vera Povetkina, psychologist of the Light in Hands charity foundation.
1. Is it about the death of a brother or sister?
If children were told about pregnancy, prepared for the baby to appear, it is necessary to report his death, because the unknown (where did the baby go, what happened to him, why does mother cry and walk very sad?) Gives rise to anxiety and imagination.
If the termination of pregnancy occurred at a very early stage, and children and relatives have not yet been informed about the pregnancy, then the decision to tell is left to the discretion of the parents, but in any case it is important to explain the mother’s absence and her condition. For example, like this: “Mom got sick, so she will spend several days in the hospital, where doctors will take care of her.”
2. Should children be taken to a funeral if they take place?
The conventional wisdom, including among some psychologists and doctors, is that it is better not to injure children with difficult experiences, leave them at home to remember the baby the way he was in life (if he was seen after birth). But death is part of our lives.
It is necessary to warn the child that he can leave home at any time if he feels that he no longer wants to be there
Surviving grief with the whole family, supporting each other, being sad and remembering the good moments that were during the baby’s short life (in her mother’s belly or in the hospital) are easier together. The child needs to feel like an important participant in family affairs. You can help children accept how life works: “Yes, it happens. It is very sad and bitter, but it happens. “
It is necessary to explain how a person comes to this world (for example, he is born in a maternity hospital, he is met at home) and how he leaves it (they say goodbye, bury, remember bright and warm moments). Joint and honest conversations with children in this situation teach the child to empathize with family members and give the first experience of supporting loved ones. Therefore, children of three years and older can be asked: “Dad and I will go to the funeral of our baby, do you want to come with us or stay at home?”
If a child decides to stay at home, care must be taken to ensure that in the absence of his parents he is familiar with someone close to him, that this person answers honestly questions, can console him if such a need arises, and does not switch his attention to another topic.
If the child agrees to go to the funeral, then it is important to talk with him, to tell why this is done. Explain what a funeral is and why to bury (it is customary to bury according to one customs, in other countries – according to others). Tell how everything will happen, for example: “We will come, the baby will be in a small wooden coffin, we will be with candles, they will read a prayer, then they will bury the coffin in the ground.”
And most importantly: you need to warn the child that he can leave the funeral ceremony or leave home at any time if he feels that he no longer wants to be there. But to explain that dad and mom will not be able to leave with him, so the child will go home with a nanny or relative (discuss this with an accompanying adult in advance).
3. Is it normal for children to ask a lot of questions?
“What happened? Why did it happen? Who’s guilty? But will this not happen to me? ” These questions often concern children. Their first reaction to the news of the death of a brother or sister can be completely different: someone will cry and rush to hug their parents, someone will get angry and run away to their room. Any reactions are normal: this is how the psyche reacts and tries to accept a painful event.
A lot of questions – this is also normal. It is very important that adults answer all of them, and that children have the opportunity to ask, discuss, share with their elders their feelings and fears. If parents cannot immediately figure out what to answer the child, then you can honestly say: “I need time to think about your question,” and return to the conversation later.
An honest and open conversation helps to refute the child’s magical and misconception about death, gives a sense of security
What should parents pay attention to in a child’s reaction? If the children have not seen the baby, then the feeling of his death is perceived less realistic. Children grieve that they could have a brother or sister, but this did not happen, and they mourn their dream. This is also worth talking about. Some of the children can blame parents, doctors, and even themselves (magical fantasies appear: “I did not want my parents to have another child, this is because of me”).
Sometimes a child is seized with fear for himself that the same thing can happen to him or to someone close to him. At such moments, he hardly lets his parents go away from him, parting with them hard. An honest and open conversation helps to refute the child’s magical and erroneous idea of death, gives a sense of security. Already at the age of five to seven years, children begin to understand that life is finite, that no one lives forever.
Do not be afraid of questions: “Will you die?” And when? Why do people die? ” With your child, everything is fine, he just learns life.
4. How to organize family life after a funeral?
It is advisable to maintain the former way of life – the daily routine, familiar activities, family traditions. Someone is needed who will listen and answer children’s questions so that the child has the opportunity to speak and not be left alone with his fears and fantasies. It is worth offering children ways to remember a dead brother or sister: go to the cemetery, light a candle, make a book of memories, draw a picture, write a letter.
5. How can you not behave with children?
You can not shift the responsibility and care of the grieving parents to the child. Children can help mom and dad, they can be asked for help, but it is important that parents have outside support (friends, relatives, psychologists, doctors), while remaining adults with their children.
It is not necessary to pretend that everything is fine and nothing happened: the child feels: something has changed, and, not receiving reliable information, begins to worry and fantasize not in his favor. You cannot forbid to ask or talk about loss. You can not forbid and scold for the manifestation of feelings: “Stop crying!” And so on.
6. When is it worth going to a psychologist with a child?
What signals in the behavior of children should I pay attention to? If for a long time some manifestations that have not existed before remain or intensify: the child has insomnia – he cannot sleep for a long time, wakes up, screams at night; impaired appetite – constantly eats or, conversely, eats little; a sharp deterioration in school performance; a sharp change in behavior – the child has become quiet or overly aggressive, or very shy.
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