"Please, don't call it a miscarriage. My baby is dead!" These poignant words from a mother who lost a child before birth say it well: don't downplay the loss. Treat a miscarriage or stillbirth as you would any other death.
Children's hospital chaplain Wayne Willis offers these guidelines:
- Attend to the father as well as the mother. The father's grief is likely just as great, though expressed differently.
- Draw out the story of events and feelings leading to the loss, for example, planned or unplanned conception, normal or problem pregnancy and delivery, any malformation, dreams and fears along the way. These bear on the grief process.
- Work through the postmortem process: deciding on burial or funeral plans, taking pictures, retaining keepsakes such as a footprint or a lock of hair.
- Discern their interpretation of the cause of death, including the medical explanation, their theological or philosophical understanding of it, their sense of personal responsibility and blame of themselves or others.