The loss of a baby at ANY stage shatters dreams and hopes.
It is wrong and erroneous and devastating to assume that there is little or no grief associated with a fetal death. Grief is not in proportion to the life span of a person but to the attachment. Most parents are extremely attached to their baby prior to its birth. Most parents anticipate, plan for, dream about, and monitor the development of their baby.
When the baby’s life is terminated at any stage it is extremely important to affirm the child and to acknowledge the pain and confusion associated with the death; it is a loss to be recognized and one that must be grieved.
Others might try to dismiss the loss, offering false platitudes such as “good thing you are young and can have another child” or “God needed an angel in heaven”. However, it is important for the parents to ignore these insensitive and unhelpful statements and move through the grieving process.
Grief work surrounding the death of a fetus or newborn include naming the child, retaining mementos such as hospital blanket, wrist id band, etc. A ritual and/or burial service to honor the abbreviated yet real life validates the life and recognizes the loss.
It is important to note that since the death of a fetus or infant is often not recognized as a loss by others, parents often experience loneliness and even depression. If you are bereaved parents, ask for help by reaching out to a support group or a friend. If you are a friend or family member of the bereaved parents encourage them to talk about their loss and acknowledge and affirm their feelings.
“Why?” is a question many parents attempt to answer. There is no acceptable response. Patience and grace are needed as bereaved families attempt to make sense out of something that has shattered their hopes and dreams.