It’s not about the length
Or the intensity of time
Or if something is precious to you
It lies in the depths
In the love that you give
Is where you find sadness
When you lose
And you cry because
There is love in your tears
Marinus van den Berg
You receive this butterfly mail because you have lost your baby. What a sad time this must be. We want to support you in the best way we can with this page. You can find everything about grief and we have collected some recommendations for websites and books for you.
Losing your baby is a life changing event. You have lived with the idea of becoming a mother and father. You got excited, were scared or frightened, looked towards the future, decorated a room, bought items. And now your belly is empty and there is no baby to hold. In your head and heart you have become a mother and father! Saying goodbye to someone who has lived is usually being dealt with by reminiscing, talking about someone, going through pictures…
How do you say goodbye to a human being who you’ve never seen smiling, squealing, maybe haven’t look into the eyes? Your goal for the future was to see this child grow up. You wanted to give it a beautiful life with lots of love. That is what you’re saying goodbye to. Of expectations and dreams for the future; of the image of this child in your family.
Try to recollect as many memories as possible. Create a beautiful box which you can fill with photos of the ultrasound, cards that you’ve received. Take as many pictures as you can; of your baby, of the funeral. And if and when you decide to pack a few items or change the room, take pictures before doing so.
Erna: "What I found to be so painful in the beginning was that people noticed that I was no longer pregnant, and they started to congratulate me. It was so awkward for both parties to tell them that we’ve lost our son while giving birth. That sort of talk mostly happened on the street or in the supermarket.. if I could I wouldn’t leave the house in these first months."
There is legislation for the loss of a baby
After 24 weeks of pregnancy we call it a stillborn. It’s the lower limit for treatment. According by law the child must be named. You (or the funeral director or someone else) are obligated to notify the birth at the department Civil Affairs of the municipality. Here you will receive a 'Deed of a stillborn’. You have to arrange a funeral. The funeral has to take place 6 working days after the passing (often this is the day of giving birth). It’s not mandatory to lay your child in a coffin. You may wrap your child in a cloth or a blanket, lay it in a basket or you can choose to cremate. You can do everything on your own: bringing your child in your own car, having a farewell reception at home etc.
After a pregnancy of 24 weeks you are entitled to maternity care. Whether you use it is up to you. It can be nice to have someone taking over household chores, perhaps looking after other children and welcoming guests. Don’t forget that you are a true lying-in woman. Physical discomforts such as congestion in your breasts or stitches might feel even more useless at this moment. Sadness and mourning can express itself in physical complaints: loss of apetite, stomach ache, nausea, agitation or extreme fatigue. These are all signs of grief. You aren’t losing just a stillborn at this time. You are also losing the five-year-old, ten-year-old or sixteen-year-old that he or she may have become. What kind of person would your child have become? You will always wonder.
Grieving is the process of integrating your loss in your life from now on. It’s not about processing something or giving it a place. This loss is something that you will carry for the rest of your life. Grieving is a unique process, every person grieves in his or her unique way (from: Fingerprints of Sadness from Manu Keirse). You don’t have to move forward and let go, but you will learn how to hold on in a different way. The love remains. It’s important to take some time to grief and find a place for your loss in life in order to move on. Reconnect (for instance when trying to get pregnant) and bond will work best if you put some time and attention to the loss and absence. Part of this phase is to share. Share your sadness and feelings with others. With your partner, family or friends. Choose who you feel secure with.
Perhaps people around you are telling you how to grief, or you will read this information in books and on websites. Older theories such as the one from Kübler-Ross are talking about having phases of grief and tasks of grief. Nowadays we know that the grief of each person is unique – we can’t give you a standard route.
If there is a model that describes how most people go through a grieving process it’s this one:
Stroebe and Schut have described the grieving process as a dual process model (DPM). This model distinguishes two reactions:
This has to do with the person who is no longer here, with the loss, the passing and the absence; in other words: the reality of loss. In this case it’s about an inner adaption process focused on the loss emotionally, physically and mentally. You are trying to find the purpose for the rest of your life.
For example: I can’t/won’t want to live without my child. Or: where is my child now? Why has this happened to us? Or: how can I feel like a mother without a child?
Recovery focused grief
This has to do with the consequences of the passing and life afterwards. It’s about adapting to the new situation. For example: How do you find a place for your lost child in your everyday life? Who puts an arm around me when I need it? Is it okay to visit the grave often? Can we do this together? What should we do with the decorated room?
Healthy grieving is a way of moving back and forward between recovery focused grief on the one hand and lossfocused grief on the other (= think, feel, do). It’s important to find a balance between the two types. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. When someone is only focused on one of these ways there is a higher risk that someone will get stuck in the grieving process.
But don’t worry: most people naturally move between the two types. Compare it to the pendulum of a clock moving back and forward. One person will move quickly, the other slowly. Everything is fine, as long as it keeps moving. Only a small number of people in grief will need the help of a hulpverlener te raadplegen. Your social network, reading about others, keeping in touch with fellow sufferers, going outside and into nature.. these are the sources for most parents. Focus especially on what your heart tells you and take good care of yourself, mentally and physically.
is just for a little while
We already thought so
But now we know.
Little as you where, way too little
life that needed to live
but barely got to live
And we ask ourselves
why you so little,
why we so much?
and we become angry.
Throw with rage in our mind.
Bye angel, bye kid,
why don’t we turn that rage
into a little melody?
Geert de Kockere
Websites you can visit
Books you can read
- Grieving the Child I Never Knew: A Devotional for Comfort in the Loss of Your Unborn or Newly Born Child by Kathe Wunneberg
- About What Was Lost by Jessica Berger-Gross
- Empty Cradle, Broken Heart by Deborah Davis
- Fathers Feel Too by Andrew Don
- Help, Comfort and Hope by Hannah Lothrop