Author Topic: How did people deal with the death of a child?  (Read 2054 times)

Offline Chloemacks

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How did people deal with the death of a child?
« on: Monday 17 December 12 18:34 GMT (UK) »
Since researching my family tree I have just realised how heartbreaking peoples lives were, so many children died and even if they made it past infancy women often died in childbirth and men in war. I have just started wondering how people dealt with that amount of grief in those days?

Offline kevinf2349

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Re: How did people deal with the death of a child?
« Reply #1 on: Monday 17 December 12 21:16 GMT (UK) »
I guess they dealt with it the same way that we do today, it takes a lot of time and of course their faith was probably stronger in those days too.

Then of course there wasn't as much 'free' time and the family unit was probably larger so they pretty much had to get on with life in order to survive. I don't doubt that the pain was any less though.

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Kevin
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Offline KGarrad

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Re: How did people deal with the death of a child?
« Reply #2 on: Monday 17 December 12 21:34 GMT (UK) »
Don't forget that mortality rates were much higher then.
So death was a more frequent occurrence.

I guess they just were more used to it?
Garrad (Suffolk, Essex, Somerset), Crocker (Somerset), Vanstone (Devon, Jersey), Sims (Wiltshire), Bridger (Kent)

Offline chinakay

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Re: How did people deal with the death of a child?
« Reply #3 on: Monday 17 December 12 21:53 GMT (UK) »
Yes...the death of a child, while heartbreaking, was common enough to be expected.

We have no real idea how blessed we are with the current advancements in medicine.
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Offline LizzieW

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Re: How did people deal with the death of a child?
« Reply #4 on: Monday 17 December 12 22:03 GMT (UK) »
My gran had an adult child who died aged 24, I don't know how she dealt with that. She had TB so I guess she was expected to die, but I know when my brother died aged 37 my parents were very upset, especially my dad who didn't believe his son could die so young (he had a brain tumour).

My gran also had two children who died young, one died aged 14 months from tuberculosis meningitis. This was 13 years before her eldest daughter died of TB, so no connection, I don't know how she dealt with that death, she did have 5 other children aged 10 and younger, which I presume kept her busy. She also had a son who died aged 3 weeks, from congenital debility and convulsions, so it must have been something he was born with. My mum hadn't been born at the time, but she told me that years later my gran had told her that when the baby died, the doctor just said to her, "Oh well you've lots of other children you won't miss this one!". My mum said my gran told her that she was absolutely heartbroken and even more so when the doctor said that to her.

Interestingly, when I worked as a midwife, we occasionally had stillbirths and one time there was a doctor on duty at the time and he told the mother she shouldn't be upset as she could always have more children. We were horrified and he was disciplined but said that child deaths were common in his country and women just got on with it. ::) I guess with a male attitude like that around them, they would have had to grieve silently.

Offline avm228

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Re: How did people deal with the death of a child?
« Reply #5 on: Monday 17 December 12 22:11 GMT (UK) »
My g-g-grandparents lost 3 (out of 4) young children in 3 weeks to diphtheria in the spring of 1894. I have inherited mourning poems that my g-g-grandfather wrote on black-edged notepaper, one for each deceased child. They are heartbreaking.

They went on to have 7 further children but suffered the death of a baby girl in early infancy and a son in WW1. This last tragedy was apparently (according to those in the family with the longest memories) so devastating that they never recovered from it.
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Offline Nick29

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Re: How did people deal with the death of a child?
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday 18 December 12 09:33 GMT (UK) »

Interestingly, when I worked as a midwife, we occasionally had stillbirths and one time there was an Asian (possibly Pakistani) doctor on duty at the time and he told the mother she shouldn't be upset as she could always have more children. We were horrified and he was disciplined but said that child deaths were common in his country and women just got on with it. ::) I guess with a male attitude like that around them, they would have had to grieve silently.


There wasn't much compassion around in the medical profession.  My mother had a premature child during an air raid in the 1940's.  She was rushed to hospital, but the baby only lived one hour.  She was put into a bed in the maternity unit to 'recover' among all the women and their healthy babies.  Such compassion in those days  ::)
RIP 1949-10th January 2013

Best Wishes,  Nick.

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Offline cathaldus

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Re: How did people deal with the death of a child?
« Reply #7 on: Tuesday 18 December 12 13:52 GMT (UK) »
Speaking from personal experience it is the worst possible happening that parents can bear.   Our first child died (aged 1 day) in 1960.  We have never forgotten it (or him).

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Offline RedMystic

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Re: How did people deal with the death of a child?
« Reply #8 on: Tuesday 18 December 12 15:04 GMT (UK) »
I too have many examples of children who died very young.  :'(

One of the losses that sticks in my mind is of a group of 10 families that emigrated from Scotland to Canada. After landing, they made their way west as far the train rail was constructed. Then they made camp while the men went on to stake their homesteads on the bald prairie. It was during the absence of the father's that one of the children under age 1 yr took ill & died. I can't imagine how that would have felt, nor knowing that the baby would have to be buried 200-300 miles from where they would eventually make their homes. (I've never found the grave or death record; but do have a family record that references the age & death of the child.)

In any event, researching the loss of the very young ones is sometimes the most difficult for me as records are scanty at best in many cases - but I'm bound & bent that they, the orphans & the "foster children" that have come & gone in the family not be forgotten.
MACDONALD of Benbecula, Scotland, Earlswood/Wapella Sask
BAIN of Aberdeenshire, Trafford district, Red Jacket and Moosomin, Sask
CHEYNE of Aberdeenshire & Trafford district, Sask
FISHER of Yorkshire, Ontario & Saskatchewan
INKSTER of Shetland, Edinburgh, Sask and BC
GAUNT of Yorkshire, Kent, BC & Australia
KINCH of Ireland, PEI, Ab, Sask
CORCORAN of Ireland, PEI & Sask
GOTZ / GOETZ of Soufflenheim, Alsace & Ont
MITTELHAUSSER of Soufflenheim, Alsace
MULLER or MILLER of Drusenheim, Alsace & Ont