When a family suddenly and unexpectedly loses a sibling in infancy or toddler age, they may not only have confusion and multiple questions, but also guilt. “If only I had…” or, “Did I (or we) do something wrong?” Then the natural course of events is investigations beginning, to determine the cause of death if possible, for it is not always clearly known. Unfortunately, an investigation may also compel mourners to feel doubly guilty. The investigator examines the family to understand the dynamics, which is just standard operating procedure, and not necessarily based on the belief that the family did something wrong. Included in this may be an autopsy and looking into medical history. It is estimated that approximately 3,500+ sudden unexpected deaths occur each year with infants. These involve a number of possible causes, including SUIDS, and SBS. The rate of occurrence is higher in Native Americans and other groups according to merckmanuals.com.
Some people have a real struggle in dealing with these sudden unexpected deaths of infants and thus choose to treat it as a non-existent event. Yet grief exists in all family members as with any other loss. If we are not careful we can overlook the sorrow of siblings, fathers, and grandparents even as we are recognizing the reality of the loss in the mother. Sadly, too often divorce develops as a result of the stress of this type of loss in a family. It is not uncommon for young siblings of the deceased to feel even more guilt than adults during these difficult times. Everyone in the family may need support outside of the immediate family. Support is crucial in a non-judgmental, unlimited time frame, with a listening and nurturing environment. This is Sunrise Aftercare, [email protected].