The Bond of Subsequent Children

It seems clear that the brothers and sisters of a child who has died, whether they were born before or after the tragic event, feel a bond with this child. If you decide to talk to your subsequent children about the baby who died, speak openly, honestly and reassuringly. Most children treasure their knowledge of a sibling who came before them.

“Thomas has a real connection with Samuel, even though Thomas never knew him. Thomas sees Samuel as his little brother.” (Jenny)

“My twins are now 6. I’m grateful that they haven’t had to see their parents devastated. They know that Molly has died. They have shown her photo to the class during ‘Show and Tell’. They always say that she is their little sister. While they kind of accept it, recently there was another Molly at school. They said ‘Molly’s back. Can we bring her home?” (Jill)

“Hannah (surviving child) told Thomas (subsequent child) ‘You wouldn’t be here if Samuel hadn’t died.’ Thomas took it very hard. We had to explain to him that we love him very much, and that we would have had him even if Samuel hadn’t died. We didn’t want him to feel second-best.” (Jenny)

“Riley and Emma talk about Jared, even though they never knew him. We have his photos and footprints, and his teddy is on our bedside table. I always talk to them about him. They used to say things like: ‘Jared must have made the rain, Mum.’” (Sharon)

“Angela said: ‘I want to go up in an aeroplane and be with Corey.’” (Carinna)

“The twins see Jared as their little brother, even though had he lived he would now be 8.” (Sharon)

“We’ve had two more boys since — Harris and Fraser. Harris sometimes says weird things like ‘Oh, we’ve had another brother, but he’s dead.’ Sometimes, he has said ‘It’s very sad that Lewis died, isn’t it, Mum?’” (Kath)

This article was prepared using extracts from What about the Other Kids?1 The full text is available online or contact Red Nose Grief and Loss Services on 1300 308 307 for a printed version.

Last reviewed: 6/8/21