Sadly, the death of a baby is not a rare tragedy: in 2018, 14 babies died before, during or just after birth every day in the UK. Related training for health professionals isn’t always adequate and parents whose hopes and happiness have just been shattered do need a sensitive explanation as to why their baby died, as well as ongoing support.
Eva (not her real name) had a still-born baby and tells me that she still, seven years later, is “tortured by the if only questions” in her head. She still experiences the guilt she felt when her baby died, she feels bad about her body and hates looking at her tummy. She still struggles with seeing new-born babies. Days like Mother’s Day or the other children’s birthdays are very difficult, as Eva is always reminded of her baby that died, yet has to function and be ‘happy’ with and for her other children.
Grief following the unexpected death of your child is an enormously intense and enduring experience. The loss can bring up a wide range of emotions, including guilt and anger. Not everyone will need or want professional help and the support of family, friends or talking to other parents who have been through a similar loss, may be enough. If your baby died, it is important that you get the support that is right for you. Many people benefit from having counselling.
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy - the BACP - is the professional association for members of the counselling professions in the UK. Their definition of counselling states that “Counselling and psychotherapy are umbrella terms that cover a range of talking therapies. They are delivered by trained practitioners who work with people over a short or long term to help them bring about effective change and/or enhance their wellbeing”.
Your child dying is something you never ‘get over’; it stays with you forever. But, with the right help, you could learn to cope with everyday life and maybe even to think about your baby without the overwhelming and paralysing devastation that was there when she first died.
The therapeutic relationship – that between a counsellor and the client – is very different from that of friends, colleagues or family members. The counsellor’s room is a space where you can just be yourself and talk about anything and everything on your mind, without worrying about feeling guilty of ‘burdening’ anyone with your heavy thought. The therapeutic hour when you see your counsellor, is just yours and you use it as you choose. The counsellor is there just for you, to offer an empathic and genuine listening ear, without judgment.
[Please contact Muma Nurture if you have lost a baby and would like to explore your feelings around this loss with one of our counsellors. We are here to help!]