When Hello Means Goodbye... When a baby dies: Living with Perinatal Loss Understanding the Grief Process Through Miscarriage, Still-Birth or Infant Death

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Griffey, Agnes
Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology
In our modern culture, we live in a time of conflicting beliefs. Many people and faiths have and promote a strong belief in the “right to life,” participating in marches and campaigns that go along with this stance, yet the same people and faiths demonstrate an absolute ignorance in their failure to recognize the life of a child lost in miscarriage or a stillborn baby as a real life. What a challenge this is for our society—for the clergy and the confusion it places on the couples in the pew as they experience this loss in their lives. Their challenge comes when, at their darkest moment, they call their clergy at the tragic loss of life of their child and are refused the Sacrament of Baptism. Then, in the next weeks or months are called on by that same church to stand against abortion for the rights of an unborn-child and to fight for the rights of the unborn, while grieving the death and invalidation of their own child. First, it is important to understand that some parents begin bonding with their baby at the moment of conception. They begin to develop their emotional, spiritual, psychological relationship with this little person who they are bringing into their world. Hopes, dreams, names and futures are invested almost from the day the couple planned for this child. When those dreams and hopes are shattered by miscarriage or stillbirth, the parents enter into a grief process, and their lives are changed forever. They become forgotten grievers.