- Category: Maternal Grief Maternal Grief
When a parent dies you lose your past; when a child dies you lose your future.Anonymous
Why baby loss grief is different
When someone in our lives dies we have memories to reflect on about that person, sometimes a lifetime of memories. When a baby dies we can have little, if any memories of them. We lose our hopes, dreams and plans we made for our baby and our future. We also lose our innocence and trust in life. We grieve for a future that will never be. A person we will never get to know. Opportunities and experiences that will never happen. There will always be that sadness of what could have been.
For some reason the loss of a baby, particularly in the early stages is still a taboo subject that people prefer not to talk about or acknowledge. Mourning an older person who was known by many is widely accepted and they are acknowledged and openly farewelled. But there is nothing like an elephant in the room at the mention of a "dead baby"....
What many people may not understand is that a mother can bond with her baby from the moment of conception. Dreams and hopes are formed even before that occurs. We make plans for that baby, our family and for the way we see our future.
Sometimes other circumstances such as difficulty conceiving, recurrent miscarriage and genetic issues add to the grief and women mourn these circumstances in addition to losing their baby. And the prospect of being unable to have another child in the future is another form of grief to contend with.
Women experiencing miscarriage describe it as an incredibly lonely experience. If the pregnancy was not announced others are not aware that it happened and so the loss is unrecognised and unacknowledged. If the baby was lost early in pregnancy, some people think because it was an early gestation or there was no physical body that the baby wasn't "real". It may not feel that way to them but to the mother she is mourning the loss of her baby, a real person to her. To her a loss is still a loss regardless of what stage it happened. She mourns the loss of her hopes and dreams. She mourns the end of her special journey with that baby, however long or short that journey may have been. Often there is no warning, no goodbye and no ongoing support.
When a baby is lost before 20 weeks they are not entitled to a birth certificate or burial/cremation. This further adds to the unacknowledged loss a mother feels.
Grief is such a unique experience and as individuals we all grieve in different ways. A woman who loses a baby has every right to grieve her loss in her own way. One person's journey may be different from another or at a different stage of pregnancy, but at the end of the day everyone is on their own journey with their grief as it may be the most traumatic experience they have ever been through. Each person's experience with grief is different and no one should tell that person how to feel.
We hope through the information on this site and comments from other grieving mothers that you will feel less alone in your experience.
If you are a family member or friend, we hope you can gain an insight into the pain a person feels when losing a baby.