Grief Emotions


Many parents have described feeling an awkward sensation of grief while their child was still healthy in the womb, while others even felt guilty and didn't understand why they would grieve for someone who was still alive and / or a child that would live. This is called anticipatory grief.

 Indeed, your child is still kicking and is seen as "normal" but you know that this will come to an end. You may be anticipating the next few months and starting to experience grief-like symptoms (Geldard, 1989). These may be:

Although parents experience one primary loss in losing their baby or their dream baby as they imagined him or her, they in fact experience multiple secondary losses (loss of their ideals, loss of hope, loss of their family, loss of innocence, loss of security, to name just a few). The pattern for many parents is the same as the one they will experience after the birth of their child; they go through various and intense grief emotions. The once quite strict grief stages are no longer believed to apply. However some of those emotions would be recognized by grieving parents

Anticipatory grief is more than just pre-death grief symptoms over a few months. It is a journey towards the ultimate loss but is composed of many losses of the past, present and future (Gilbert, 1996, p. 269).


Parents who lose a child often go through one or more of the following experiences listed below.  

These are all natural and normal grief responses.  It's important to cry and talk with people when you need to.  As you go through the process it will be important for you to receive support from friends, family and other significant person that  you can experience your grief in a healthy way.


Whilst we once believed that parents "accepted" their child's loss and/or grief over time, we now know that many other ways of 'accepting' may occur. Those include meaning creation and post traumatic growth. It is no longer believed that parents need to 'overcome' their loss, but rather find meaning in it as well as a way to co-exist with the memories of their child.  



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