Break­ing the si­lence over in­fant loss

The Star Malaysia - - World -

MADRID: Ev­ery year, 2.6 mil­lion chil­dren around the world die in the womb or shortly af­ter birth but par­ents say their grief is all too of­ten avoided as a taboo sub­ject.

“You don’t get over a child, a child is for life, alive or not,” Paloma Costa-Jimenez, 38, said dur­ing a memo­rial cer­e­mony in Madrid ahead of to­mor­row’s in­ter­na­tional preg­nancy and in­fant loss aware­ness day.

Her daugh­ter An­drea died on Feb 13, 2014, right at the end of her preg­nancy. Since then, she has had two other chil­dren.

“If your hus­band dies, no one will tell you: ‘Don’t worry, you’re young, you’ll find an­other’. So why say that about my child?,” she asks.

“For me An­drea is just as real as Inigo and Ma­teo,” her other two chil­dren.

“Since peo­ple didn’t see her and she was only with me nine months, some peo­ple think ‘it doesn’t count’. But it does, it re­ally does, she’s my daugh­ter.”

Bro­ken by their loss, par­ents of­ten strug­gle to find the nec­es­sary sup­port.

That was the case of Jil­lian Cas­sidy, who lost her first daugh­ter Uma in 2007 in her third trimester of preg­nancy.

“Out­side Spain, there were lots of re­sources – in­for­ma­tion, sup­port, as­so­ci­a­tions, train­ing of health work­ers. But here, noth­ing,” said the 42-year-old, who is Ir­ish and lives in Spain.

So it was that in 2009, she de­cided to cre­ate Uma­manita, Spain’s first as­so­ci­a­tion to help griev­ing par­ents.

“Death makes us un­com­fort­able,” said Cas­sidy.

“Given all the joy that a baby brings, when he or she dies, it’s even more prob­lem­atic and taboo.”

Yet speak­ing about it is cru­cial, just like any other griev­ing process, she added.

“If par­ents talk about their baby, talk to them about their baby. If the baby has a name and the par­ents have told you, use the baby’s name,” she said. “Many peo­ple are scared of hurt­ing them more if they talk about the baby and ac­tu­ally it’s not the case, on the con­trary.”

Pi­lar Gomez-Ulla, a psy­chol­o­gist and co-founder of an as­so­ci­a­tion called “The hol­low in my belly” that sup­ports them, has ex­pe­ri­enced that grief as she her­self lost three chil­dren. She has since spe­cialised in sup­port­ing peo­ple suf­fer­ing from peri­na­tal grief and ad­vis­ing health work­ers on the is­sue.

“It’s not just about of­fer­ing them to see their child,” she said.

“It’s about pre­par­ing par­ents to prop­erly take the de­ci­sions they want: see their baby, touch him or her, dis­cover them, get them dressed, give them a bath, in­vite other im­por­tant peo­ple in the fam­ily to come see the baby, meet him or her, kiss them, and take pho­tos.”

Given all the joy that a baby brings, when he or she dies, it’s even more prob­lem­atic and taboo. Jil­lian Cas­sidy

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.