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Perinatal Grief and Loss
Transcript of Perinatal Grief and Loss
families experienced the death of a baby
within the perinatal period Grief associated with perinatal loss was first
published within nursing literature in 1962.
Following this however, no articles were
published in medical journals until Patrick Giles,
an obstetrician from Western Australia, in 1970 Loss: Parting with something
Mourning: process of undoing psychological bonds
Grief: process associated with loss, the emotional
component to loss and the complete amalgam of
painful effects towards the process of healing
Stillbirth: the definition of stillbirth relates to a baby
weighing more than 500 grams or being born after
22 weeks of pregnancy (ISA, 2006). Grief has been described as an emotion that draws us towards what is missing, arising as it does from an awareness of a discrepancy between the world that is and the world that should have been Common emotional responses span from shock, anger and denial to sadness, guilt, confussion and lonliness The unique nature of perinatal loss may be attributed to the fact that the baby is only known by the mother and as such, the grief is one of privacy and intimate in nature, often mourned solely by the parents Furthermore, perinatal loss involves mourning part of oneself which differs from losing an object separate from the self Modern medicine has allowed women an early awareness
of their developing foetus which increases attachment
and can accentuate the grief of loss Attachment between mothers and their deceased
infant can continue for many years, and without
effective meaning making, the loss can amalgamate
into complicated grief which can last a lifetime The experience of death at birth can be
constructed as a major existential dilemma
generating very prominent meaning making Due to the meaning making component
of dealing with perinatal grief, religiosity
may be a protective factor in coping
with adverse events Uren and Wastell (2002) found within their study
that many women feel their social milieu fails to
provide them with an atmosphere to grieve. The support of family and wider systems
has been illustrated to have an effect on
postnatal depressive symptom severity Crisis intervention has typically been
delivered by health care professionals
whose primary concern is founded within a
medical model Narrative therapy allowed parents to understand their connection with social and cultural contexts by reflecting on experiences and contrasting these with others who may not have undergone such an experience Barkway, P. (1997). Perinatal death: A phenomenological study of bereaved parents’ experiences. Unpublished masters thesis, Flinders University of South Australia, Australia/
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