Every day in the UK 17 babies are stillborn or die during or soon after birth.
The death of a baby is undoubtedly one of the most devastating and harrowing experiences anyone could ever go through. As a result the effects of your grief can be overwhelming, and can leave you and your partner feeling dazed and exhausted for a long time.
As a result the impact on your relationship is huge. It will either bring you closer together as a couple, or put an immense strain on the two of you. This is why it’s important to realize says Erica Stewart, Bereavement Support Manager at Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society):
- You can’t measure grief. It’s a very individual experience that leads people to react and behave in very different ways.
- Your grief can come in waves rather than stages; there maybe some days that are better than others. However as time goes on the waves will get further apart.
- You have to let yourself grieve at your own pace (and the same goes for others).
Hard as it is try and accept how you feel, even if you’re shocked by your emotions or feel numb and frozen by what has happened. Don’t let others dictate how you should be feeling, or assume that your partner isn’t in pain because he’s holding it together.
Men in particular feel they need to take care of their partners at this time by remaining strong and not showing any pain. It doesn’t mean they are coping or unaffected, or that they don’t need some kind of support.
If you’re unable to talk or lean on each other, an external support system can be invaluable. Many parents find meeting and speaking with other mums and dads who have been through the same experience and are perhaps, a little further down the line an immense help and support.
Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) has over 100 support groups throughout the UK, which are run by qualified be-frienders who have been affected by the death of a baby themselves. Most groups offer telephone support and group meetings and some offer home visits. To link up with parents call the Sands helpline 020 7436 5881 or visit the parents forum at www.uk-sands.org
What you need to know
“You never feel you’re going to get over losing a baby and in a way you don’t. You always remember your baby and love them but you do move forwards and start living again. You have to, whether you want to or not.” Helen, 34
Despite the pain there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As time moves on your grief won’t be as raw as it is now.
The first year after a baby’s death is likely to be the hardest as you both work through milestones such as your baby’s due date, or an anniversary or even someone else’s pregnancy.
What’s important to remember is while nothing will ever replace your baby; gradually you both will get to a point of acceptance (not necessarily at the same time) and be able to move on.
Late miscarriage (also known as a second trimester loss)
Two percent of women have what’s known as a late miscarriage between 14 and 24 weeks. Though called a late miscarriage, many women like Lisa, feel this doesn’t give what has happened to them enough gravity.
“I had a late miscarriage at 20 weeks. I didn’t feel the word miscarriage accurately summed up how it felt to lose a baby at 5 months or explained the enormity of it.”
Your feelings with a late miscarriage may range from sadness to anger. You may even feel angry with your body, feeling it has failed you, or feel depressed and guilty. Again this can cause problems in your relationship especially if you feel your partner has moved past the loss more quickly than you, or he feels you are dwelling too much on what’s happened.
Try to realize that even if your partner doesn’t need to talk about the loss as much as you do, he is still grieving and needs support. Again it can help to talk with parents who have gone through a similar loss to you.
For help, support and information contact Sands helpline 020 7436 5881 or visit the parents forum at www.uk-sands.org