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Keywords

Bereavement, Perinatal, Grief

 

Authors

  1. Capitulo, Kathleen Leask DNSc, RN, FACCE

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this article is to explore the concept of perinatal grief and evidence-based healing interventions for it. The loss of a pregnancy or death of an infant causes profound grief, yet society has long minimized or ignored this grief, which is among the most painful of bereavement experiences. Throughout the last century, research on grief and the special needs of bereaved parents has changed the context of professional intervention from protective to supportive. The central focus of bereavement interventions is to assist families in healing by helping them make meaning of their losses. The use of symbols, spirituality, and rituals has been shown to help bring meaning. Research has shown that memories are key to healing, and that gender, age, and relationships bring different grief expressions and experiences. While children's understanding of loss and grief differs with developmental age, they should also be given the opportunity to participate in grief rituals and practices.

 

Professionals who care for bereaved parents have a unique opportunity to offer support by validating their grief, facilitating rituals, providing mementos, and letting the bereaved tell their stories. While no intervention can bring back their beloved children, appropriate intervention can promote healing.