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Losing Child in First Year Might Raise Early Death Risk for Parent
Date:9/8/2011

romising the health of the mother could be also compromising the health of the baby," Doka said.

Previous studies in parents who've experienced the death of an older child have not found a strong link between that loss and a heightened risk of death, Doka added.

And despite the findings, parents who've lost an infant or experience a stillbirth should not read the findings to mean that they are destined to die earlier than they might otherwise, said Louis LaGrand, director of Loss Education Associates, in Venice, Fla. He holds workshops on dealing with grief.

In 1970, LaGrand and his wife found their 4-month-old daughter dead in her crib. They were devastated, he said. But eventually, the family recovered.

"My wife and I are still together. She is in very good health," LaGrand said.

And yet, there's no question that a stillbirth or loss of a child in infancy can be extremely painful and stressful; that in their grief, people may be less likely to take care of themselves by getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising; or that some people may turn to alcohol to cope, experts said.

Though it may seem impossible, parents can, and do, move on from the death of a baby, LaGrand said. He and his wife have four sons. Every year on what would be their daughter's birthday, he and his wife take a moment to remember their little girl.

"The key, I believe, is being sure that you build a wide spectrum of connections with people, places, things, ideas, information, beauty, love and spirituality -- those things are the heart, mind and soul of living," he said.

Grieving is the process of accepting what happened and what can't be changed, he said. Reaching out to other parents who've lost a child can help ease the sorrow.

"You will always have a relationship with the child you lost. You will always remember your loved one," LaGrand added. "But you can have that relationship and reinvest in life at the same time, to learn to l
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