“When do you make another one? You are so young!“” Do this little sister to him! “” Come on, get to work immediately, otherwise you won’t even do one! “” Don’t feel sorry for yourself! “” One pope dead, another is made ! “
These are just some of the phrases that are said to bereaved parents after the death of their child, whether it is just an embryo, or a “fully formed” child, as unfortunately we still hear often when talking about a born child. died.
Together with Diletta Arzilli , psychologist and voluntary psychotherapist of CiaoLapo Onlus, we reflect on this delicate issue, which can be a further source of anxiety or confusion for parents affected by perinatal bereavement.
These phrases (and many, many others!) Are often said in good faith, but with little awareness of the effects they can produce in a grieving family … yes, because death during pregnancy or in the peri-natal period is for everyone. the effects of mourning, and thus includes all that series of reactions that characterize the process of mourning (and as such, it has a variable duration from six months to about two years )
Those words, perhaps spoken by the midwife, the gynecologist, the wedding witness, the mother-in-law, the best friend, the neighbor or the colleague, resound in the broken heads and hearts of the parents. So they come, not only with grief, despair, anger and sadness, which are “normal”, but also with that question, sometimes hidden, sometimes made explicit by the more “brave”: “When can we try again ? But what if we don’t even want to touch ourselves with a finger? But do we have to? But when? It’s normal? Is it better to do it now or wait? I can’t wait “
When is the right time? And what is the right time?
There is certainly no single answer that works for everyone without distinction.
The choice of a new pregnancy (or the possibility of an adoption) is the choice of a couple, within their unique and specific path, to be done in synergy with the treating team.
Doctors who deal with perinatal death give this general indication: wait at least six to twelve months (depending on the type of birth and the general state of health of the mother) after a birth, and a few months after an early abortion, before embarking on a new pregnancy.
Instead, an advice that comes from mothers who have experienced it in person is to wait at least 4 months after the loss so as not to overlap the times of the two pregnancies (retracing the stages of the two pregnancies is a source of stress, worry and intrusive memories even more disturbing) .
Grieving parents often wonder why so much time: if they do not receive the right explanations on what bereavement is and how it “works”, it is difficult for them to fully understand what all that time is for, and they may think that it is. wasted time.
In reality this time is needed for many reasons:
– it is time for medical examinations, to understand the causes of death in the previous pregnancy, and to remedy any problems present or identify risk factors
-it is the time of confrontation with other parents who have been through it and with their own pain, so that the new pregnancy is not the need to fill a big void (both on a biological and psychological level)
– it is the recovery time of the mother’s body and the psychological balance of the individual, the couple and the family, because starting a new pregnancy, dedicating oneself to the dead child and any siblings present requires a lot of psychophysical energy
In fact, we must not underestimate certain aspects that are very common (and very stressful) in the new pregnancy: the sense of emptiness and the lack of the previous child alternate with the joy of the new expectation; they are accompanied by fear that something will go wrong, once again, fear of the future, uncertainty, remorse. Compared to the previous pregnancy, the parents allow themselves with difficulty to go to dreams, hopes, fantasies: ” try not to get too attached ” say the “usual” friends.
Yet, we know well how much the bond between the child and his attachment figure arises from pregnancy; the child already takes shape in the imagination and in the family desire.
At this point then I would change the question: “How much do I feel I can make room for this child? Not just in my belly, but also in my head and heart? In my desires, in my hopes? “
Because children, everyone, those who are there, those who are no longer there and those who are not there yet, need space, not only physical, but also mental! A space to be known and recognized as unique, for what they are and to be loved, in their uniqueness.
One of the greatest fears of parents with a new pregnancy is of not being able to love their children in the same way, or of taking something away from the dead child.
Yet to mourn is to place the person who is no longer in his own space, who does not invade everyone else, and who is not invaded by others: a place to protect and cuddle, because love is made alive there. absence. And also the other children who will come, physically present, will need their spaces, their pampering and their attention, which will be only for them.
But how difficult it is!
So what can parents do while waiting for the right moment to return to waiting?
I would like to say that there is absolutely nothing to do, no pre-printed recipe, no specific advice: rather, there is to be, alone and as a couple (and also in a group just like we do at the AMA group), with own feelings, communicate them, but also respect the silences, give oneself time and give time to the other …
It seems almost an oxymoron in a society like ours that is always in the race and competing to get to first position, but really giving yourself time and space, in your heart and in your life can help you understand when for that couple it is “the right time. “.
“Getting to know the new child is easier if we have found the right psychic space for the missing child” (C. Ravaldi)