When a Child Dies Please Remember: Siblings Grieve Too

I recently viewed a documentary out of Toronto presented by researcher Christine Jonas-Simpson called, “Always with Me: Understanding Bereaved Children Whose Baby Sibling Died.” This video, and the presentation given by Simpson, blew me away. I began to think about my children’s response to Zachary’s death in a new way.

It may sound silly, but I never really imagined my young kids, five and two-years-old, to have their own grief. I always thought that they were sad because I was sad, or that they talked about Zachary because I did.

What I realized while watching the research-based documentary:

  • Kids have their own grief that is separate and unique from their parents.
  • Different children will respond in different ways to the loss.
  • It is good and healthy to talk to your living children about their sibling and to find support for them to work through their feelings.
  • Just like parents must let go and grieve the future with their child, siblings must also let go and mourn the future with their sibling and all that may have contained.
  • Even kids that are born after and do not know the deceased child still grief and must process the loss.
  • The grief of siblings is just as complex as any other type of grief and should not be rushed or dismissed.

Alexis Marie Chute and family Wanted Chosen Planned baby loss blog

When I look back, I can see that my kids do think about their brother. As I am still debating having more children, I sometimes talk with Hannah and Eden about what it would be like to have another baby in the house. When I asked Eden, my two-year-old, what we should name a baby if we had a boy, he said, “Baby Zachy.” Not only Eden, but Hannah very frequently talks about Zachary, bringing him up when I least expect it. For example, one common discussion we have around our dinner table is who is the biggest and who came first. It gets a little confusing for my kids because Zachary is Eden’s older brother, and he should be bigger, but we still talk about Zachary as a baby. These types of things can be confusing for kids – and their parents!

I would really recommend watching, “Always with Me: Understanding Bereaved Children Whose Baby Sibling Died.” To watch a preview or buy the movie, please click here

The documentary was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada.

The full research team includes:  

  • Christine Jonas-Simpson, RN, PhD
  • Rose Steele, RN, PhD
  • Leeat Granek, PhD
  • Betty Davies, RN, PhD
  • Joann O’Leary, PhD


How have you spoken to your living children about their deceased brother or sister? Or have you?


Other perinatal bereavement documentaries:

“Why did baby die? Mothering children living with the loss, love and continuing presence of a baby sibling”

“Enduring Love: Transforming Love”

“Nurses Grieve too: Insights into Experiences with Perinatal Loss”


Please read my related post on kids and grief: “Talking to Kids about Death”


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