I can remember reading something years ago, which now has some resonance with me. I can’t remember the book, although I think it might have from one of the Anne of green gables books. (Which is interesting all by itself considering the author struggled to have children).
Two characters are discussing the idea that historically people didn’t get attached to their children until they were 5 or 6, past the infant death zone. They didn’t agree with that, how could people not love their children, and that it would be hard to watch children die. I think this is an imperfect summary, but the gist has stayed with me for years. And now, I think I see it from both sides. Yes, it is hard not to be attached, but for people who have experienced potentially years of losses, there is also the fear of attaching to something that will go away soon. For someone that had children survive early on, I imagine the attachment would be more secure. But if your first five babies died, how could you get too invested in number six, at least initially?
My grief this time is not the same as it was that first time (or even the subsequent ones), it changes with experience.
I should note that due to familial circumstances I did not have much interaction with death as a child. We lived on a different continent from my extended family. I have never been to a funeral (and now am a little freaked out about going).
I am still sad, and I did start to let myself believe it would happen this time, but not the wholesale belief of the first couple. On the flip side, I also know that this is survivable, that the pain is going to lessen. I have felt a little fraudulent, taking time off work and feeling ok, and then I start crying or get angry with the world (definitely happening, I think my tolerance levels for stupid comments have dropped) and I realise that I do need the time.
So, I can understand how parents would be reluctant to get too invested, or to draw the attention of gods and spirits (depending on the belief) to a treasured child. Because it is hard to be so attached and then to lose it.
We don’t have a lot of modern rituals for grief, and we find the ones we know of from history (or religion) to be extreme, or seem obsessive. I think they are there to provide structure and a means for channeling and expressing that grief. We don’t have that anymore, and I think that can be detrimental for healthy grief and for people in expressing sympathy.