Brothers and sisters will also be affected deeply by the death of the baby. Smaller children who are too young for explanations need only to be shown love and affection by their parents. They may have some very frightening thoughts that they cannot express.

"Did I cause the baby to die? Will I die too? Will Mommy and Daddy die? Am I still a big sister or brother? Who will take care of me now?" They may cling to their parents and do other things to get attention. It is most important for them to know that they are loved and that they are safe.

Older brothers and sisters experience grief reactions which may vary depending on their ages and past experiences. Sometimes they feel guilty because they mistakenly think they may have caused the baby's death. They may be very sad or may appear not to have any feelings.

Children should be told as much about the facts as they are able to understand. All older family members should be open to expressing their thoughts and feelings. This openness will enable the children to express how they feel and to ask questions about the death. It is best not to say, "The baby went away," or "The baby is sleeping in peace." It is important to explain that SIDS and SUID occurs only in very little babies and not in older children or adults.

Many youngsters have been sources of strength for their families. They have written poetry and often exhibit simple, unshakable faith about the pattern of life and death. Some children, on the other hand, because of circumstances of age or emotional makeup, have felt terrible insecurity after a sibling's death. This loss of security has manifested itself in nightmares, bed wetting, difficulty in school and other disturbances. Any such problems should be discussed with the child's doctor. Other SIDS and SUID parents can also offer practical tips and reassurance.

Lines of communication about the death should be kept open for years since children's questions and ability to understand change as they develop and their concept of understanding of death develops. They will need more complete information over time.

The Iowa SIDS Foundation serves the entire state of Iowa.  Children's grief packets are available to Iowa families experiencing a SIDS or SUID death.  Contact us for more information to request a children's grief packet that is specific to your son or daughter's age.