By the way knowledge: grandparents, stillbirth and neonatal death

Murphy, Sam and Jones, Kerry (2014). By the way knowledge: grandparents, stillbirth and neonatal death. Human Fertility, 17(3) pp. 210–213.



Over the past 50 years, academic interest in the experiences of parents who lose a baby to stillbirth or neonatal death has grown. Stillbirth is defined in the UK as the death of a baby after 24 weeks’ gestation and neonatal death is death within the first 4 weeks of life. Less is known about the experience of grandparents after such an event. As grandparents might expect to play an important role in their putative grandchild's life, including the provision of childcare to support parental employment, it seems likely that the baby's death will impact upon them. We argue that existing academic knowledge of grandparents’ experiences of reproductive loss is ‘by the way’ knowledge, garnered incidentally from other research projects, for example, losing a grandchild per se or where researchers have interviewed grandparents as part of wider family research. The experience of grandparents who lose a grandchild at or around the time of birth should not go unnoticed. Research into their experiences can inform about the place in the family, if any, that is afforded to the unborn child before birth and whether, like fathers and the siblings of babies who have died, grandparents are also ‘forgotten mourners’.

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