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How Does a SIDS Baby Affect the Family?
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A SIDS death is a tragedy that can prompt intense emotional reactions among surviving family members. After the initial disbelief, denial, or numbness begins to wear off, parents often fall into a prolonged depression. This depression can affect their sleeping, eating, ability to concentrate, and general energy level. Crying, weeping, incessant talking, and strong feelings of guilt or anger are all normal reactions. Many parents experience unreasonable fears that they, or someone in their family, may be in danger. Over-protection of surviving children and fears for future children is a common reaction.
As the finality of the child's death becomes a reality for the parents, recovery occurs. Parents begin to take a more active part in their own lives, which begin to have meaning once again. The pain of their childs death becomes less intense but not forgotten. Birthdays, holidays, and the anniversary of the child's death can trigger periods of intense pain and suffering.
Children will also be affected by the baby's death. They may fear that other members of the family, including themselves, will also suddenly die. Children often also feel guilty about the death of a sibling and may feel that they had something to do with the death. Children may not show their feelings in obvious ways. Although they may deny being upset and seem unconcerned, signs that they are disturbed include intensified clinging to parents, misbehaving, bed wetting, difficulties in school, and nightmares. It is important to talk to children about the death and explain to them that the baby died because of a medical problem that occurs only in infants in rare instances and cannot occur in them.
Families with a baby who has died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome may be aided by counseling and support groups.
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