Perinatal loss is like no other form of loss. Birth and death join together in a way that does not fit our understanding of natural order.
The field of perinatal loss is a vast landscape covering preconception and assisted conception issues, early and late miscarriage, termination including genetic/medical termination, prematurity, stillbirth and neonatal death. Perinatal loss is more than the loss of a baby. Perinatal loss is the loss of an attachment relationship. The loss of dreams and hopes. Subsequently, feelings of shame, guilt, isolation, and disenfranchised grief are common when perinatal loss is present.
Pregnancy or infant loss is enormously impactful to parents, leaving them on shaky, uncertain ground. Perinatal loss challenges a woman’s fertile self-image, leaving her to question her capacity to create, gestate and deliver something alive and good.
A baby is not only gestated in utero, but is also gestated in mind…when a baby dies, so too do the hopes and dreams attached to that baby.
Working with families bereaved from pregnancy and infant death can be harrowing. The emotionally-charged nature of perinatal loss lands the clinician squarely in the territory of unbearable, intolerable and unspeakable aspects of human experience. The clinician is required to join with their patient/client to bear the unbearable, tolerate the intolerable and find words for the unspeakable experiences that occur when a pregnancy ends and a baby dies.