Like adults, children also respond differently to this loss: the way they express their feelings, or whether they need to talk about it. Regardless of their age and stage of development, some children are more inquisitive and more sensitive than others. You know your child better than anyone else, and that fact will help you decide what to tell him when.
What do I have to explain?
Maybe you have decided that your child is still too young to understand what happened. Or maybe you also want to avoid a possibly necessary difficult or frightening explanation. If you had an early miscarriage, your child may not have known about it yet. However, if there was a late miscarriage, stillbirth or a newborn death, then maybe your child was already involved in the baby's preparations and had some expectations. Then it has to know what happened.
Even if they do not fully understand it, even very young children intuitively understand many adult emotions. They know very well when something is wrong. Maybe you were sad or unfocused in the presence of your child or a physical separation from you has changed your daily routine. Children need reinsurance that everything will be fine again.
How will my toddler react?
Toddlers respond in various ways to grief and loss. Do not be surprised if your child suddenly becomes very affectionate again, puts it back in his pants or does not want to go to kindergarten anymore. After all, your child's daily routine has probably changed. It tries to understand why his parents are suddenly so sad and maybe his environment is suddenly more threatening to your child than ever before.
But maybe your child will not show any reactions to the loss or his moods will fluctuate within minutes from heavenly rejoicing to death distressed. This is quite normal, although difficult for the parents to cope with. Children handle their emotions bit by bit, not all at once.
How can I explain the loss?
Do not avoid your child's questions
Children often ask "Where's the baby now?" Or "When's the baby coming back?". The curiosity about what happened is normal for a toddler, so answer his questions easily and gently.
Give short, simple answers
Young children can not handle too much information at once. At this age, it is probably most helpful to limit yourself to explanations of what organic reasons the baby was unable to live off as a complicated conversation about why it happened: "The baby was not up to mommy and was Not as strong as you, it died, the heart stopped beating, it eats, sleeps and sees nothing, and feels no pain. "
Talk about the loss of the baby
If your child knew it was going to have a brother or sister but was not really happy about it, then it could now feel guilty about the baby's death. Or it is sad, because now it will not be the "big one" you already told him about. Explain to your child that babies who die are generally not healthy enough to survive outside of Mummy's abdomen. If your child is old enough, you might suggest that you draw a farewell picture or make a farewell present for the baby.
Talk about your feelings
Grief is an important part of the process for children and adults. Explain to your child that sometimes adults have to cry and that you are sad because you miss the baby. Your child will recognize your mood very well and will be worried if it detects something is wrong and you try to hide it.
Avoid euphemistic descriptions
Phrases from the adult language for the word death, like "gone from us" or "resting in peace" do not tell a child anything. Children take everything very literally at this age, so avoid expressions such as "the baby is asleep", "lost", or "left." Perhaps your child will be scared to die even if it falls asleep, or worried that you will not return when you work or go shopping.
Be careful with religious explanations
Of course, what you tell your child about death and the desire for a life after death depends on your personal beliefs. Believing could comfort your child. However, you should think carefully about what you say to your child, because words of comfort can also confuse a small child.
Phrases like "Lea is happy now because she is in heaven" can confuse a child who thinks: How can Lea be happy when everyone here is so sad? Say, "Leah was so good that God wanted her with him," it might be thinking, If God wanted Leah, will He get me too? Shall I be good to be with Leah in heaven, or rather bad, so that I may stay with mom and dad? Words such as "We are so sad that Lea is not here with us and we will miss her very much, but comforting us to know that she is with God now, and that he will take care of her" will reassure your child and do not raise new worries.
Be prepared for a wide variety of reactions
Like adults, children also feel guilty about a loss, are angry or sad. Many worry that something they have said or done - or have neither said nor done - is the cause of the baby's death. Assure your child that it is not his fault.
Do not be surprised if your child is angry with you, the doctors, midwives or nurses, or even the baby. Just expect these tantrums to occur more often - either to express your own grief (even if the tantrum seems to be something else) or in response to the tensions and grief in your household.
Expect the topic to reappear time and again
Be prepared to answer the same questions from your child again and again, because your child has to deal with the irrevocable loss of death. There will probably always be new questions as your child learns more about the meaning of death. Do not worry about these repeated questions - it does not mean that you have given bad answers. This kind of questioning is normal, because most children just want to make sure that the information has not changed. Answer your child as calmly as possible.
Do your best to make your child's life "normal" again
Try to keep the daily routine or activities of your child as good as possible. So you give him a sense of security despite the loss suffered. The grandparents and good friends may be able to assist you with practical matters. Of course, the routine will always be a bit interrupted or changed, but the sooner everything returns to normal, the easier it is for your child.
Your child needs regular sleep and wake-up calls, regular meals and, when going to kindergarten, contact his friends there - and above all, fun and games. Make sure that it gets as much as possible - if your powers allow it.
Do not try to be perfect
It's perfectly alright to cry in front of your child, and you can not expect to answer every question perfectly the first time. Ask friends and relatives for help, and remember that you are more helpful to your child now and later, even if you take care of yourself. If, after a few months, you feel that you are not getting along with your daily life or are getting worse, it is important to discuss this with your doctor, midwife, or psychological counselor and possibly ask for help.
Expected reactions to another pregnancy
It could be that your toddler is worried that another pregnancy will lead to another miscarriage. This fear will not be foreign to you. Some parents do not tell their child about a new pregnancy until after the third month of pregnancy. Parental support in a similar situation can be found in our Grief Group in the community.