Recently I read an article by the daughter of a lady who had given birth to a baby girl 40 years ago. Sadly the baby died at 2 days old and the mother had never spoken about it until very recently. The daughter was vaguely aware of this child but as her Mum had never talked about her she knew little of the circumstances and was shocked to learn that her Mum had never been told anything about why things went wrong at the end of a healthy full term pregnancy, only a hazy memory of losing the placenta and being pushed back on the bed screaming. The funeral was arranged by others whilst she was still in hospital, without her even seeing her baby, and no-one ever talked about her. The daughter had recently had a baby herself and was upset when she realised her Mum had never had the chance to grieve over the loss of her baby and had carried the heavy weight of her sadness and trauma around with her for so many years. This had impacted on her relationships and she had subsequently gone through an acrimonious divorce.
The birth of her grandchild had prompted this lady’s memories of the baby that she had lost. Traumatic events can result in people burying their emotions and unconsciously they work hard to keep them locked away because the feelings of grief, fear and loss are too hard to bear. This can be an effective coping mechanism but these repressed feelings are still there and can have a negative impact on how people live their lives.
Hopefully these days we have moved on and much more understanding and support is available when someone loses a baby. Losing a baby can be so terribly painful and whilst National organisations and social media have raised awareness and sensitivity many people still feel they cannot share the agony of their grief. Family and friends feel helpless in the face of what no parent should ever have to go through or are worried about saying the ‘wrong thing’ so say nothing. Parents are left feeling isolated, that they should move on but cannot, very sad and burdened by their grief.
Research shows that counselling is an effective way of providing help to people who have suffered the devastating loss of a baby or small child. Grief can be profoundly destabilising and for some people so devastating that it can lead to depression, anxiety, hypertension and substance abuse, social isolation and loneliness.
Footsteps Counselling and Care is a charitable organisation that offers counselling to anyone in Gloucestershire affected by pregnancy or baby loss. Counselling can provide a sense of safety in a neutral place with someone who understands, enabling people to safely explore their feelings and emotions around their sadness and grief. This can provide a great sense of release, allowing some healing and the strength to move on. Feeling listened to, understood and accepted can be very powerful and therapeutic.