Navigating Grief After an Infant or Child Loss


Losing a child is undoubtedly one of the most heartbreaking and devastating experiences any parent, step-parent, or guardian can face. Loss of any kind is never easy, but when loss occurs during infancy, the pain and grief can be particularly painful because you are also grieving all the potential hopes and dreams for the future which have been taken away prematurely.

The loss of a child disrupts the natural order of life, defying expectations and plunging parents into a world of anguish. In this blog, we will explore some strategies and resources that may help parents, step parents, and guardians manage this incredibly challenging journey.

Understanding infant and child loss

Infant loss refers to the death of a child within the first year of life, whereas child loss refers to death after the first year of life up until they are 15 years old.1 2 Infant or child loss can occur as a result of a variety of reasons such as, pregnancy complications, traumatic childbirth, congenital anomalies, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), illness and disease, or accidents.

Regardless of the circumstance surrounding your child’s death, it is important to not blame yourself for what has happened, and to start to begin to acknowledge your feelings of grief.

Acceptance and acknowledging your grief

The first step in processing infant or child loss is to realise and come to terms with your grief. The loss of an infant or child can seem incredibly unfair, triggering feelings of immense anger. It is vital to allow yourself to process these feelings, and understand that they are a natural response to such a profound loss.

Allow yourself to experience the wide range of emotions that come with grief, including sadness, anger, guilt, and despair. Shutting off or suppressing these feelings can prolong the healing process, and lead to the development of toxic behaviors that can be damaging to your long term health.

Open yourself up to grief and seek support from friends, family, and professionals

During your grief journey it is important that you don’t isolate yourself and navigate this journey alone. It is normal to want to shut yourself away from the reality of life, however it is important to communicate openly with family or friends, seeking professional help if appropriate.

Support groups and mental health professionals are able to offer understanding, empathy, and practical assistance. In some instances they may be better able to support you in your grief journey, finding alternative resources and medications if required.

Once you have begun to let your feelings of grief in, you may find that sharing your feelings and experiences with others who have also experienced infant or child loss can provide a sense of validation and comfort. You are bonded by the unique experience and may feel comfortable confiding in them, in ways you may not be able to with professionals and family members.

Communicating with your partner is vital

Infant or child loss can put immense strain on even the strongest of relationships. This is because everybody experiences feelings of grief differently. It is therefore essential that you maintain open and honest communication with your partner throughout the grieving process. Whilst this may be incredibly challenging it is important to give one another grace and time to process your feelings, express your thoughts, and listen to each other without any judgement.

Make sure you recognise that you may be grieving differently, and that’s okay. It is important to not place blame on one another which can lead to immense resentment and the breakdown of the relationship. Ultimately the painful feelings are reminders of a great love, that’s been lost. Working together to overcome such challenges will ultimately bring you much closer together.

Memorialise and remember your child with pride

Thinking about your loss is incredibly hard, but honoring the memory of your child can be a meaningful part of the healing process. It is often better to face your feelings head on, rather than suppress them in the hope that this will help you heal more quickly.

Taking time to create precious rituals such as, planting a tree, lighting a candle, or writing letters to your child for each milestone can be a nice way to honor their memory. Some parents may choose to keep keepsakes, such as handprints, footprints, or memory boxes filled with mementos and photos. This service is now available in most hospitals and hospices, and can create lasting memories to cherish your child by.

Take it one step at a time and make taking care of yourself a priority

Grieving will take its toll on your physical and emotional well-being; impacting your mental health and weakening your immune system.3 It is therefore vital to practice and prioritise self-care during this challenging time, making sure you are getting adequate rest, social fulfillment, nutrition, and exercise.

No matter how challenging your grief journey is, it is critical you engage in activities that bring comfort and solace, whether it’s spending time amongst nature, practicing mindfulness, or pursuing creative outlets. Although attending such events may feel daunting, it’s important to go back to doing things you enjoyed prior to experiencing the loss of your child.

Take it one step at a time, and remember perseverance is key.

Be kind and patient to yourself and your partner

The grief journey is not linear. Healing from infant or child loss is a gradual process, and some days can be easier than others. Ensuring you are patient and kind to yourself and your partner is important when giving yourself the time and space to process your emotions and grieve. It is also key to remember that there will be good days again, it just takes time.

Give yourself grace to feel whatever emotions arise to the surface without judgment or suppression. Your partner may not feel or process grief in the same way that you do, and it is vital to make sure that neither one of you apologises for the way that you feel. Work together to practice self-care, and instill new rituals to make sure you are living as best you can, despite the circumstances.

Professional help is always there if you need it!

In the midst of your darkest days it is not uncommon to feel totally alone, but remember there is always professional help out there. Family and friends can provide a great sense of comfort, but despite the significant benefits of having this support, they are not experts in the field of infant loss or grief. If you or your partner are finding yourselves unable to cope with overwhelming feelings of grief, do not feel ashamed or hesitate in  seeking professional help.

Death and loss is something that we will all experience in our lifetimes, and specially trained grief therapists can provide guidance, support, and coping strategies that are tailored to your’s or your partners individual needs. In some instances professionals are able to prescribe medications to help ease some of the symptoms of depression or anxiety; this sort of support cannot be provided by family and friends.

Finding meaning in your loss can help you process your grief

While no one can take away the cruel and unfair pain of losing an infant or child, helping you process the emotions that come with this loss can make life a little more bearable. The pain of losing a child may never fully dissipate, but some parents can find comfort in finding meaning or purpose in their loss. Perhaps this involves advocacy work, raising awareness about infant loss, or supporting other grieving parents.

Loss in any form often feels helpless and pointless, but it is that loss that is the price we pay for such a profound sense of love. It is hard to make sense of this painful disruption to the natural order of life, but raising awareness of various illnesses or diseases may help to save the life of another precious infant or child.

Giving back to others who may have experienced a similar story may help you honour your child’s memory, whilst bringing a sense of purpose and healing that could be all-important in your grieving journey.

1 Better Health Channel, 2024. Death of a baby. Available at: Last accessed, April 2024.

2 Office for National Statistics, 2023. Child and infant mortality in England and Wales: 2021. Available at:
mortalityinenglandandwales/2021. Last accessed, April 2024.

3 Health Direct, 2024. Grief and loss. Available at:,leave%20people%20feeling%20very%20tired. Last accessed, April 2024.