link to RWJMS home page
Banner Image Here

Impact of SIDS

The sudden, unexpected death of an infant to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a tragic loss. Death happens suddenly, and the family often has no time to prepare. The infant may recently have been given a clean bill of health from the pediatrician.

The death of an infant from SIDS disrupts the natural order and is a traumatic event that affects the family for the rest of their lives. The sudden, unexpected death of an infant threatens parents' safety and security and forces them to confront their own mortality. The lack of a discernible cause, the suddenness of the tragedy and the involvement of the legal system make a SIDS death especially difficult, leaving a great sense of loss and a need for understanding. The impact of SIDS is extensive and affects a myriad of people from parents, siblings and grandparents to extended family, friends, babysitters and co-workers. Families are directly helped through information and support services to alleviate their guilt and increase their understanding of this devastating event.

Parents often complain of physical symptoms such as aches, tightness in the throat, loss of appetite, insomnia and feelings of loneliness and isolation. They are often fearful of "going crazy" as they continue to hear the baby cry at night or wake to care for an infant who is no longer there.

The lack of a definitive cause of death, even after autopsy, does little to alleviate any feelings of guilt the parents may have about the death. They often blame themselves. The "if onlys" plague parents. A generally uninformed public can add to the grief and guilt of the family by voicing incorrect assumptions. The burden of grief grows in the face on these misunderstandings. Through bereavement support, families receive information, understanding, and comfort.  Contact with other families who have faced such a loss also contributes to a family's efforts to cope.