February 17, 2006
February 17, 2006


A client was expressing her grief to me about a miscarriage she had experienced. I responded, “I know. I miscarried in my fifth month forty two years ago. I often wondered whether it was a boy or a girl; knowing this would have given an identity to that soul and it would have made me feel better. I no longer feel the deep hurt, but for many years it was there.”

A loss of a partial term baby ejected by the body’s own immune system or still born is devastating to the potential mother. Some physicians will not divulge the sex of the baby believing that if the mother does not know it she will not grieve as deeply. Instead the loss is even more powerful because the baby is not identified by name or sex and is treated as if it never existed. The woman carrying the infant knows it existed. She felt it for her term, whether it was for three, five, seven, or nine months. Her hormones and the child’s movements inside her- let her know that a very precious being was there. Even though the mother has not held the infant in her arms, she has cradled the infant in her womb.

Friends and relatives do not always know how to respond, so often they ignore the happening as if no event had taken place. Many of my clients relate how they feel ignored when the worst hurt in their lives happens and no one acknowledges it. Recognition of the entity as a personal loss is important, but often is a disregarded grief. Funerals are for the living to have closure, not for the dead to feel better. Certain hospital recognize this and allow a memorial service in their chapels. For those which do not give this service, the family could plan a service even if it is only in one’s residence.

Some potential fathers are upset by the loss; some do not think much about it. For those who disallow any emotions of their wife's sadness, the grief deepens. Luckily, I was able to cry and my husband would hold me. In a few minutes I was O.K.. and we both felt better because it created a stronger bond between us.

Treat the loss as a family member’s death. It will give permission to those affected to heal properly. The medical field is discovering that many illnesses are the result of unattended stress which can result in illnesses as serious as: strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome or even bouts of bacteria and virus infections. Since memorials for an unborn infant are not the cultural, have a sympathetic relative/ friend/ neighbor make the arrangements with an explanation for the necessity of it. (This article might help if read to disbelievers). Counselors will never replace the kindness of the community in a time of personal tragedy, but are better than no comment at all.