Continuing bonds and creating rituals

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Every family unit has their traditions – whether developed over time or inherited from our childhoods – and these traditions help bond us together and provide us with security, love and support.

The death of a child affects everyone in the family, from parents, siblings and extended members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends.

Grief has a way of isolating individuals from their usual support systems and this can create a sense of disconnection and detachment from the important people in our lives, even from those who live in the same house.

Although this can be helpful in the acute phase of grief, it is important to consider how we move into our new way of being, re-establish bonds within our family, and create new ways of being together.

Every family unit has their traditions – whether developed over time or inherited from our childhoods – and these traditions help bond us together and provide us with security, love and support.

This continues to be important after we have experienced the death of our child, as the way we maintain our bond to the baby or child who has died will develop as the family grows around their grief and reintegrate back into their daily lives.

There are many ways to create and continue our relationship and bond, some rituals that families may find helpful are:

  • Choosing a range of special songs that resonate with each family member and creating a playlist that can be shared at meaningful times throughout the year.
  • Creating rituals that each family member can participate in – either together or individually – that provides a space to remember and grieve for the child who has died.
  • Visiting the child’s grave or where the child’s ashes were scattered or kept.
  • Sharing hopes and dreams that you had for your child and/or sibling on special occasions (i.e. their birthday) but also sharing together what you think you have learnt and began to appreciate about yourself and others in your family.
  • Visiting a special place that has meaning to you and your family, allowing yourself the time and space to reflect on your grief and feel your loss.
  • Creating a family memory box of photos, mementos, drawings, or recordings that have meaning to you as a family. This can then be accessed by anyone in the family when they feel the need for greater connection. Parents and children may also want to make their own memory boxes with their own special items that have meaning to them.
  • Planting a tree or flowering plant and planted and/or placed in an area that can be visited by all members of the family.

You will find what works for you and your family over time. Bereaved families tell us that their rituals develop organically and can change over time. They will be unique and special to you and your family, and cannot be compared to others around you.

For more advice and ways to prepare for milestone and special occasions, such as Christmas, Easter, birthdays and anniversaries, visit our Support Library.


Last reviewed: 11/2/24