Looking after a baby can be demanding, exhausting and emotional at the best of times, but doing so whilst grieving for a loved one can seem almost impossible.
Although it might seem hopeless at the moment, you will get through this difficult time. And whilst you fight your way through the various stages of grief, there are a few things you can do to make things a little easier on yourself.
So let’s look at various things you can try to get yourself and your baby through this difficult time.
Ask for help
It’s perfectly natural to feel like you have to do it all alone. It’s also natural to feel like asking for help is just putting the burden on someone else. But it isn’t.
Asking the people around you for help is brave, sensible and will probably even provide relief for those who are close to you. A lot of the time, people don’t know what to say or do when a friend or loved one is going through something traumatic. Allowing them to help you with daily chores and childcare will actually make them feel useful and could help them through the grieving process as much as it helps you.
Getting help from your friends and family will help both you and your baby. Trying to do everything yourself will leave you exhausted and stressed which isn’t good for anyone. So whether it’s having someone over to watch the baby for an hour whilst you take a bath, allowing your friends to prepare some food for you, having someone stay over for a few nights to do the nightly feeds so that you can actually sleep or simply having someone to talk to, allowing others to help you will make a world of difference.
Read more about grief:
- Brilliant new book hopes to support grieving children who have lost a parent
- How to help young kids process and grieve the death of a grandparent
- “There is no rulebook for grief”: Carrie Bickmore on her two miscarriages
Take the time to grieve
Although thinking positively and moving on are important, it’s also essential to let yourself feel the grief. Trying to skip over this part will only prolong the healing process. Whether it’s having a good cry or taking a few days out to do nothing, allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling.
This is where relying on those around you for help is useful. Your baby is too young to understand that you may not be feeling up to feeding, changing, bathing or entertaining. When your baby needs something, it simply must be done. Having someone else on hand for a few days to give you a bit of time and space to do what you need to do and feel what you need to feel will be invaluable.
Whether that’s just an hour or so to cry or a few days to clear your head, make sure you give yourself time to feel. Devoting all your energy to your baby may be your first instinct, but the best thing you can do for your child right now is to heal yourself.
Get professional help
Friends, family, and even you may not be able to understand your emotions right now. And that’s where getting professional help comes in. Whether it’s finding a therapist to talk to or a bereavement group to share your experiences with, having professionals in your corner will give you a sense of support that you won’t find elsewhere.
There are a number of groups and organisations available. Many of these may even be specific to your situation and some can even help you with the practical side as well as the emotional side. And if you don’t feel like physically going to these places for whatever reason, there are many groups online that you can join. Speaking to other mothers who have been or are going through the same thing as you can really help so don’t be afraid to reach out.
Don’t be hard on yourself
Grief is a lengthy process. You won’t feel better overnight. In fact, a part of you may always be grieving for your loved one.
Some days you might feel OK, other days might be near impossible to get through. There’s no right or wrong way to feel. The way you express your grief might be different to others but it doesn’t mean that it’s the wrong way to do things. So don’t be hard on yourself.
It just takes time
Grieving for a loved one is a horrible and traumatic experience. There is no right or wrong way to get through it, it just takes time.
Coping with a baby whilst grieving is like putting on an oxygen mask on a plane. In order to help others, you must first secure your own mask. After all, how can you save your child if you are unconscious?
You may well be a mother, but you are also a human being. Nobody expects you to have all the answers or to be able to do it alone. So don’t be afraid to let yourself feel, to ask for help and to prioritise yourself once in a while.
James is the founder of Feel The Magic, a non-profit organisation that provides grief education and support to bereaved children and their families to help alleviate the pain and isolation felt by the loss of a parent, sibling or legal guardian. Back in 2012, in the wake of losing his mother, James decided to dedicate his life to giving grieving children a voice and a safe place to grow and thrive. He believes through Feel The Magic, he has been able to offer lifelines of hope to families who have suffered unimaginable losses, facilitating a journey of recovery and self-discovery.