Chronicles of “Wrong” Mourning

by Claudia Ravaldi

T he parents of children who died during pregnancy or childbirth is a very special bereavement: a bereavement that seems to have no right to exist.

It must not exist for the medical staff, who often see death as an intrusive reminder of their own fallibility, an unpleasant setback to their professional ability. In death in general, let alone in death that occurs in the course of an event that should be physiological, which should – at least this! – do not pose too many problems to the doctor.

We still read too often the stories of gynecologists who disappear, who reproach, who minimize, who give superficial and useless advice: ” Don’t worry madam, you can have another child right away!”

Or of annoyed and brutal midwives, like the one who attends – so to speak – the desperate mother of little Alberto, in “Your cradle is my heart”:

is dilated by about 1 cm … if we go on like this she gives birth in a week! […] listen, stop crying a little, that I have to ask you something …. after the baby has ….. gone out … yes, after the expulsion, what do you want us to do with it of the corpse ??? Do you have to bury him or can we throw him out with the hospital waste ???

Even without reaching these limits, often the answer to the anguished questions of the parents (Because? Why us? What about upcoming pregnancies? Is it our fault? What could we have done?) is “ It happens ”. As if it were a common but inexplicable event, to be filed as quickly as possible. No pain, no grief.

A grief that must not even exist for ordinary people, for friends and relatives of the parents, who appear, depending on the case, embarrassed, amazed, irritated… as if in front of an inappropriate and exaggerated feeling.

The fact is that the death of a child is an unnatural and dramatic event, an unimaginable, terrifying pain.

So much better to think that this is not like the death of a “real” child, and to act accordingly. For example by saying phrases like these, all strictly authentic:

“But yes, come on, you will make others”

“Think if it happened to you later!”

“But are you still sick? It’s been three months already … “

“Next time you have twins, so you recover ..!”

“Next time you will make another better one!”

“Well, he wasn’t quite a child yet …”

“Sorry if I don’t come to see you, but I’m pregnant and I don’t want to get sad”

“But do they even give him a funeral ?!”

No one, I believe, would think of saying such things to a couple who have lost a child, whether it was an older child, or a teenager. But the ” children born in silence “, like the little Hector of the first testimony, seem to be children only for their parents.

Can you imagine loneliness worse than this? Crying a child with the feeling of doing something wrong, feeling guilty for their pain? As if the other feelings of guilt weren’t enough, those that every parent has when something happens to their little one. It must have happened because I didn’t notice it in time, because I drank coffee, because I didn’t drink it, because I did the cleaning, because I ate a candy … these too, all strictly authentic, taken from the letters that over the course of three years of collaboration I received from the mothers – and also from some fathers – of CiaoLapo.

CiaoLapo is the first Italian initiative that aims above all to give relief to this loneliness, through self-mutual help, that is, the exchange of experiences between people who have gone through the same dramatic experience. But it has also become a driving force for training and research initiatives and a coordination point for similar initiatives that, without funds and without advertising, operate in our territory: just remember, among the many realities, the Como and Lamezia hospitals. Terme, where there are programs to support pregnancy and childbirth which also include a first reception and a possible treatment of perinatal bereavement.

However, CiaoLapo is also much more: it is living proof that children who are born in silence, meteor-children who light up the sky of their mothers and fathers for too short a time, are still precious fruits .

Lapo Vannacci, born and died on a March day three years ago, allowed his parents to give a home to a pain that he did not have, to the “wrong” mourning of so many mothers and fathers.

Surely too many. Because it must be said that perinatal bereavement can be prevented as well as cured: first of all with a better knowledge of the causes that cause death. But that’s another story.

Whoever reads one of the books published by CiaoLapo with the testimonies of hundreds of parents I hope will do so with attention and respect.

I believe then that she will never again be able to doubt the fact that perinatal mourning is the mourning for the death of a child: as small as a grain of rice or ready for life, but always and in any case a child , unique and irreplaceable, like everyone else. we.

Carla Maria Xella, psychologist , psychodiagnostic and psychotherapist, supervisor and EMDR facilitator, wrote this text in 2008 to present Your cradle is my heart, the first book published in Italy written by parents during their perinatal bereavement.

Since 2006, Dr. Xella has supported CiaoLapo and is alongside bereaved parents thanks to her answers in the psychology section of the forum and thanks to her work as a therapist in Rome.

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