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Grandparents Grief

Editor: Sonya Marvel
Contributors: All Members of My Parents Are Survivors

You child has lost a child! You have lost your grandchild, but your child needs your support. You grieve for your grandchild as you watch your child hurting. You feel so helpless as you watch your child cry and grieve for their child. You are hurting, too! There are even times when you are overlooked because most focus on your child and the hurt they are going through. You want to be there for your child, but you need support and understanding.

"And Nana Cried"

It's odd how distinct and vivid the events surrounding a child's death become when you have moved from that time....It's been three years since I lost my little 14 months old...barely enough time to even begin to open her eyes to the wonders of this earth and the love that was shared by her family. Yes, her family her whole family....You see, Kierra was my grand daughter....I would have to say a very special grand daughter. She came from a long line of firsts....4 generations of first born daughters and grand daughters...a serious task and legacy for such a little person. But she handled the task with the ease and strength of champion.

I remember the moment that I got the call that Kierra was being transported to the emergency room at the trauma center where I work...! It's odd, but the immediate thought that ripped through my mind like a bolt of lightening was "I need to hurry, my daughter Amanda is going to need me".....!!!!!!

When I arrived in the emergency department I found my daughter sitting motionless on the couch eyes red with tears and pain....and a cold steel knife slid through my baby is in pain....! I held her and kissed her cheek and said "honey, everything's going to be okay, I'm here, and we'll get this all taken care of" Little did I know at that time that all of the "mother" in me would never be able to fix the hurt or the pain, or repair the damage to that dear sweet baby lying in the next room.

I spoke with the doctors and the nursing staff who were friends of mine and learned the gravity of the situation. I couldn't tell Amanda..because she needed to have the "hope" that I could infuse in her at least for the moment. HOPE...something that I needed to provide to hold my family together through this quagmire of pain, HOPE, something that I couldn't afford to hold for myself...!

The next two days were like something out of the "Rocky Mountain Horror Show"...the arrest of the day care provider, the surgery, the hours and hours and hours of waiting, phone calls, friends, family from far away all needing the information and news....! Amanda was lost in her grief and things were now beginning to look totally grim. Someone had to be there "for the family" coordinating, organizing, making sure that no one was offended by the interactions of the immediate environment. That someone was "Grandma" Nana as I am referred to by my children and now 4 grand children....! Nana would hold it together...Amanda depended on me to do that as she had depended on me to hold things together all of her short 23 years of life. But Nana couldn't cry....there wasn't time....there were tasks at hand and preparations to be made.

Amanda and I talked until long hours of the night there in the Peds ICU waiting room....we discussed her feelings of guilt for having put Kierra in child care, we discussed her fears of a child without function should Kierra survive the injuries, we talked about the good times we had experienced with our sweet Kierra and we talked about Amanda's fears regarding Kierra's last moments before her skull was crushed. Was she afraid, was she in pain....How does a mother tell her daughter? Ease her fears and comfort her in a time such as this...? I would hold her and rock her almost as if she were once again a small child...and tell her...Kierra was protected by angels my dear...held close to her guardian angels I hold you....! But Nana couldn't cry...!

Then when the final word came that Kierra was brain dead....once again, there were decisions...many many decisions...donate organs, funeral arrangements, receptions, flowers....on and on and on and on....A 23 year old woman should never have to bury her child....she shouldn't be faced with making "arrangements", once again, Nana couldn't was essential to "hold the family" together.....!

I secured a safe place for my Amanda and her husband that afternoon before Kierra went to the OR to donate organs....I didn't want her going home to that lonely little apartment with all of Kierra's toys....meeting her at the door....! I then waited with my mother...Kierra's great grandmother until the organ donation team arrived...and walked with our little angel to the elevator...I promised her then, that her Nana would do everything in her power to ever prevent this from happening to another child....!

As the elevator doors closed....and that cold steel knife twisted in my heart....the pent up tears of 3 days poured forth....and would not stop.....NOW Nana could cry...!!! and cry she did...she cried for her lost grandchild, she cried for the lost legacy, and the great grandchildren she would never see...she cried for the pain of her daughter and she cried for the trauma that this death had inflicted on her family....!

Grandparents are a special gift that God gives to children....and the children know it...with all the love they hold in their hearts for their parents...there is special love in their hearts for their grandparents.....We as grandparents hold an unending volume of love .....and our grandchildren become the receivers of the deepest of that love...

When our grandchildren are hurt or die....a huge part of us dies with them...a piece dies for them and a bigger piece dies for our children....! Our belief is that we were put here to care for and protect our children and the death of a grandchild places a deep seated guilt in our hearts that we failed in our task...we couldn't do it...we couldn't do enough....!

Although on a cognitive level we know that there was nothing more that we could have conceivably done...but our hearts and souls forever hold the question...! and We CRY.....!!!!

To all of the grandparents in our group I extend you a very very warm grandparents day salutation....and leave with you the knowledge that your little grand angels are there watching over you...and smiling..."That's my Nana...and she loves me"...!

Pamela S. Rowse, R.N., Grandmother
Kierra Ashlie Danielle Harrison
murdered 3/5/97 - licensed day care provider
The Kierra Harrison Foundation for Child Care Safety

Pamela would like to share a special "gift" that her webmaster designed for the grandparents!!!

Grandparents Gift

I am a surviving grandmother, or I think I am surviving. I lost my grandson, Lee Morris Gossett, on Oct.8, 1999. He was 6 years old and the joy of my life. The pain today is as great as it was on the day he passed. My whole world has come to a stand still. I wonder every morning if I will get through the day without him. To see the pain in my daughters eyes everyday is almost more than I can bear. To see my daughter hurt and with the hurt I feel myself is so much to bear. Will the pain get any easier? This is the question I have for anyone who has lost a grandchild. I only know that without God in my life I would not have made it this far.

Mae Lee
I have a website in memory of my grandson that was put together by Pat Kusila
Lee Morris Gossett

Every time a parent or a grandparent lost a child...I sent a card expressing my sympathy. I always stated that there could be no greater pain than to lose a child or a grandchild. Until I lost my beloved granddaughter Melissa, I didn't REALLY know the pain they felt. I could only imagine it. There IS no greater pain...for you not only lose a loving see your own child in such horrific pain and you are helpless to "make it right". The night Melissa was having her fatal asthma attack...I implored God to take me instead. I pleaded and begged him to spare her and take me in her place. The family would have grieved for a time, but then gone on with their lives. Losing a child is NOT the natural order of life. At 16 years, she had SO much ahead of her. When I heard the words, respiratory failure...I changed my prayer to THY WILL BE DONE! God then took her Home. I wanted to run thru the snow until I dropped of exhaustion or didn't matter. But I had her 10-year-old sister to think of. The way I dealt with this would mark her for life. I drew on my faith, and very calmly gathered her in my arms, and told her that her Sissie had just gone to Heaven. This was the second hardest moment of my life. The first was hearing that she had! Then I had to be strong for my son and his wife too. They were devastated, as was the entire family. From the very beginning, my daughter-in-law (who had been like a daughter to me) withdrew from me. She seemed not to want to be in my presence, and we had always been so close. For 2 years, I blamed myself for Melissa's death. I had been instrumental in her getting allergy shots, and had the mistaken idea that I had killed the one person who mattered most in my life. I finally worked thru those feelings and no longer feel responsible. I had only wanted what was best for her ALWAYS. I tried so hard to get back the closeness her mother and I once had, but it was not to be. I started a craft business, making and selling Angels, and made her a partner. It didn't work, and she later divorced my son. He was devastated! His family was his life, as is mine. She was his first love and they had 20 years together. It became a bitter time in all our lives. Though' she continues to be in my prayers, the rest of the family has become alienated from her. My son visits his daughter's gravesite EVERY night to say goodnight to his beloved Angel. It is now 5 1/2 years, and we still feel the pain every day. I have put my thoughts and words to paper by writing stories and poetry. I try to be as compassionate and caring as I know how to be. Those are gifts from my beautiful Angel. Not a day goes by that I don't shed tears for her...for what might have been...for the dreams I had with and for her. There will always be an ache in my heart...there will always be a prayer for her and for her hopes that we all find peace one day. With God's help....we will.

Luv'n prayers,
Melissa's Gram
Angel Hugs ^i^
Angel's Touch

I am writing this on behalf of my mother, the loving grandmother of my dear deceased son. Everyone calls her "maws". Maws, is a very loving fun natured and giving person. never a harsh word about anyone. She stands 4' 10" tall. Maws was there at the morgue with me to identify my son's body. She broke down then, and at the funeral. Our family had never been one to show emotions, but we are all very close. especially my son, daughter, myself, and my mother. That is the first time I have ever seen my mother cry. She was there with me, by my side throughout the entire ordeal. never saying a word, about the cause of death being drug related. Two months later when my daughter and I moved across country, she helped us pack, without tears. In the year we have been gone, Maws will take the flower arrangements I send her for Jeffrey's grave, over to the site and put them up for me. She also keeps the site clean, and adds her own special grandmotherly touch. She sends photos of the site to me on a regular basis. I believe this is my mother's way of dealing with the grief over loosing a grandson that she helped to raise.

Sherry Krippner
Mom to Jeffrey Barr

We are grieving grandparents. Our son was killed before his child was born and we have had the baby since he was born. Just got full custody last January (you even posted it in the newsletter). Anyway we deal with a child everyday that wants his dad and has never met him....its really hard! If you want/need our story please let me know. I would be more than happy to tell it . We are grieving grandparents having to raise a grandchild because a 'drunk' killed his dad. Can get on 'the" soapbox but won't. If you need our story, let me know.

Pam Richardson

A grandparents point of view: The death of our grandchild Nicolas, was the most tragic thing that can happen to anyone. It affected all of our lives, family, friends, and even some strangers. We lost our grandson through death, and only another grandparent could and would understand the great love grandparents have for a grand child and the loss that is felt when a child dies. For us it is a double loss not only did we lose our beautiful Nicolas, we watch our daughter die each day. The smile Renee always had on her face is no longer there. The hurt is so deep and the questions are so many. We feel helpless as your parents, we cannot kiss away the hurt as we did when you were a little girl. We have no answers for your questions, for we don't understand the many feelings you must be feeling yourself. Every day we hope and pray for a little ray of sunshine to show on your face. We look for little things to say or do to try and comfort you. Sometimes it seems to us there is no end to the suffering. As the time goes by so very slowly, we know a healing process has begun. The way your eyes light up when you look at Gabriella and Giana. You can turn to us for any little comfort we may be able to give you. There will always be a part of you that is gone, but in time we can all live with the part that is still here.

We Love you
Mom & Dad Starr

Our daughter, Jennifer Moore, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Faith Elizabeth, on Aug. 15, 1997. She lived for 5 short days. To say we were devastated is putting in mildly.

At the time we were in our deep grief, there was nowhere to go for support. Not only were grieving for our lost granddaughter, but we felt so helpless to deal with our daughter's grief and pain. We could not fix her "owie". When we were at the hospital after Faith was removed from life support, the nurse wanted to know if there was a special outfit that we wanted Faith to wear during her last hour with us. Jennifer had brought her "going home" outfit, (as we never expected her to die) a peach and white lace dress with white tights and tiny white lace shoes. Jennifer didn't want the nurse to dress her, and she didn't feel up to doing it herself, so she asked me if I would dress her. I said yes, as it was the only thing she asked me to do that I could do for her. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I talked to her the whole time I dressed her, and cried. This was the first and last time that I would ever dress her. Her tiny shoes were too big for her. They barely stayed on. It was also a special time for just her and I. I told her how very much I loved her, and how I would miss her terribly. All the things I had planned for us to do together.

Jennifer says she has talked to you, about "My Mother is a Survivor". This is the first time I have heard of it. I, and Grandpa Bear would be interested in sharing with your group.

Some of the things we have done with Jennifer, to help her, are just holding her when she needs it, crying together, being available to talk with her when she needs to, and ALWAYS letting her know that Faith is, and always will be a part of our family. We help to keep her alive by talking about her, and she has shown her presence with us. We also have her picture up along with our other grandchildren. We do special things on her birthdays and holidays.

Hoping this is of some help to you.
Keep up the Good Work We need people like you.
God Bless
Grandma and Grandpa Bear

Sonya, I have been told that a grandparent's grief is like a double edged sword. You are in such pain over the loss of your grandchild but you are also in such pain for your child. I have never had such a helpless feeling as what I have felt with this loss. We parents always like to think we can take care of and protect our children and this is not a pain that we can do anything about except to be there if our children need us. We just came to Parker's first birthday and in the time leading up to it, I just didn't know what to say to my daughter. I knew it was primary on her mind just as it was on mine but I was at a loss as to what to do or say to her. I still ache to hold that precious baby in my arms again but I also ache for Jennifer, my own child, who is still in so much pain.

Gay Kennedy

I lost my grandson Michael when he had just turned seven years old in an accidental drowning. I don't know of any words that can describe the pain and emptiness we feel. You always think that you will have years of playing with your grandchildren and getting to know them and then something like this comes along and you wonder WHY? Michael was our first grandchild and the apple of our eyes. Angie and Mike (Michaels mom and dad) have really dealt with it better it seems than David and me. I try to be there for them although we live miles apart. They say they don't speak that much of Michael. I don't know why. I have asked she says oh we do but mostly it is Michael's sister (Danielle) that speaks of him and she is 4 yrs old now but was only 1 when he drowned. She speaks of seeing him and talking to him which I know she does. It is hard to go to his house seeing the room he once had now turned into a nursery for his sister (Arianna) that is 18 months old. Wondering what he is doing in heaven and if he misses us as much as we miss him. Wishing again and again that he would be returned to us knowing that this is not possible. There is so many what if's. We had so many plans for him..All that is now lost. Where do you go from here? We now have 11 grandchildren with Michael being the first and oldest. He will always remain in our hearts and minds. We regret that the years we did have with him we did not spend more time with him. He lived in Mississippi and us in Texas. We always made trips every 6 months to see him but if we had it to do again the trips would be more frequent...So if you are a grandparent spend as much time as you can with the grandkids tell them how much you love them and be a big part of their life. God forbid this should ever happen to one of you. Be there for your child and try to help although you are grieving right along with them as they are the parents. If you can get them to talk of the child please do for I feel my daughter and son in law are dealing with this to quietly and one day it might hit them really hard. I feel that talking helps and I appreciate you letting me write this.

Many ((hugs)) and much love
"Michael's MeMaw"

This is a hard topic, there are so many things to say and yet how can you really be sure anyone understands, I think the hardest part was knowing that here was something I could not fix or make right, there was no getting over it. I learned not to ask if my daughter was alright, she will never be alright again, her little girl is gone forever and nothing can fix that. We talk about her all the time, every day we mention her name, she is a part of our daily lives, it is hard to see her favorite cartoon character, which is very popular right now, to hear her favorite song or see a doll she would have loved or that looks like her, to see her little sister wearing her favorite dress because her mom could not say no and she misses her too. Sometimes I see a child in the store that resembles her and just for a minute my heart stops and even though I know it is not true I think it is her and there was a terrible mistake and she is kidnapped and the child we buried is someone else's and then I know that it is just a fantasy and she is not coming back. She has 3 little sisters, 2 of them born after she died, and we talk to them about her, how she was different and the same as them, the things she loved and disliked, and how much she loves them. We look at her pictures and keep them on the wall with the other family pictures, when new family pictures are made I cut and paste her picture into the top corner as if she were looking down on us. I keep her memory page and I miss her every day of my life, but I never stop loving her and I think that helps myself and my daughter to cope, because as long as you love someone you never completely lose them.

Sharon Holden

Recommended Reading

Grandma's Tears
Comfort for Grieving Grandparents
By June Cerza Kolf
Grandparents are often overlooked when a grandchild dies, yet they carry a double burden--the loss of their grandchild and the sorrow of their own grieving children. Author Kolf offers support and hope in brief chapters that do not overwhelm the bereaved. She intertwines practical strategies for surviving grief with first-person accounts from grandparents.


When a Grandchild Dies
What to Do, What to Say, How to Cope
By Nadine Galinsky
The death of a grandchild is one of life's most heart-wrenching experiences. You not only grieve loss that is "out of the order of things," but you see your own child suffering and feel powerless to help. Friends and family are often focused on the feelings of your bereaved child, so your own grief may be misunderstood and minimized.

After losing two children of her own, Nadine Galinsky discovered that while support was available for bereaved parents, few resources existed for grandparents.



This has been written by the members of My Parents Are Survivirs to help us to get through the worst time of our lives. Every word of this information and feelings is copy written by the writer. That means that you can NOT use this material in any way, shape or form. Please do not ask, because permission will NOT be given. This has been written from our hearts and will not be duplicated.

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