Meaning Reconstruction among Women following Stillbirth: A Loss Fraught with Ambiguity and Doubt

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Abstract

Stillbirth (SB), death of a fetus in late stages of pregnancy or during birth, usually leads to extended and intense grief among women. However, their grief is often disenfranchised and they are denied the social right to mourn their loss. Constructivist theories recently assuming a central place in bereavement studies inform this article, which aims to identify the meaning that women who experience SB ascribe to their loss in general and to the lost figure. This tack may offer the opportunity to examine the consequences of the discrepancy between personal and environmental constructions of this loss on its personal construction and to learn about the essence of the loss. Within the domain of qualitative research, the current article draws on phenomenology and the research method that has emerged from this approach. Specifically, the article focuses on in-depth interviews with 10 women who experienced SB. Its findings suggest that for these women, the lost figure and the loss in general engender ambiguity both internally - that is, within the psyche of women themselves - and externally, within the women's social environment. Thus, ambiguity, uncertainty, and doubt infused women's experience of SB. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-154
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Social Work
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016

Keywords

  • ambiguous loss theory
  • disenfranchised grief
  • meaning reconstruction
  • stillbirth

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