Parental identity in narratives of grief following perinatal death

Jones, Kerry (2014). Parental identity in narratives of grief following perinatal death. Grief Matters: The Australian Journal of Grief and Bereavement, 17(2) pp. 38–42.



This article considers some of the challenges bereaved parents face in claiming parental identity following perinatal death. By listening to narrative accounts of loss, the passage to parenthood for bereaved men and women represents a disruption and re evaluation of their identity as they negotiate the incomprehensibility of their loss. Women in particular suffer these losses as a threat to their sense of self and are plagued by guilt, blame and self doubt. Narratives by bereaved parents reveal how their sense of self and identity is mediated by the social and cultural milieu to which they belong and are largely disenfranchising experiences when friends and family fail to acknowledge the enormity of the loss. In trying to find meaning, the collection of artefacts (for example, locks of hair or handprints) and memorialisation are one way parents attempt to renegotiate identity as a parent of a deceased child, albeit privately and silently.

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