Saving Lives by Mourning?

by Claudia Ravaldi

Why the 5×1000 at CiaoLapo? What is the use of grieving? But is it true mourning?
In our country, so unfamiliar with the knowledge of the psyche and its mechanisms, it may happen that a person does not know what is the use of supporting an association that takes care of mourners. What is the use of supporting parents when everything has already happened? How can you help? And above all, can you really do something useful for them? Isn’t it really enough to take another one, take a vacation, put a stone on it, wait for it to pass by itself?
I prefer to give to those who” save “lives “, a lady elegantly dressed at a gala dinner told me, showing me that she does not understand anything about our mission and even less about the psychology of trauma.
“We save lives every day,” I replied, convinced. If we can say so, if we can use the word “save” . “Taking someone away from serious harm”, “Finding refuge somewhere” are two phrases that describe our work well. Ours, however, are discreet, slow, sweaty rescues.
Let’s save psychological balances totally compromised by the most ferocious of absences, that of the beloved child, in a historical moment for that most chaotic and vulnerable couple, that of pregnancy and expectation.
We save people from their destructive anger, from grudges, from unreasonable fears, from distrust of their bodies.
We save them from social ignorance, from the professional incompetence of “these things happen”, from the discriminatory abyss of “you will see one day you too will be a parent”.
We save them from those who exhort not to mourn, because it is not a true mourning.
We save them from complicated grief and from the generational leap of unresolved grief that affects subsequent children.
We started by chance.
My husband and I began to save ourselves on March 13, 2006, having just been diagnosed with full-term fetal death.
But nobody saves himself alone! – Margaret Mazzantini points out in one of her books.
It is much easier to save yourself in company, I recognize that.
It is much more comforting to be welcomed into a place that already exists where they understand exactly what is happening to you and how you feel.
But there was not, in 2006, that place.
It wasn’t there physically, and it wasn’t even metaphorically.
Because there was no concept of “perinatal bereavement” at least in its bio-psycho-social dimension.
We didn’t exist.
Or rather, there was our “misfortune”, as they defined it, which had happened to us without why and without wherefore, and we could not be saved. We had to keep it. And be strong. And have another child soon.
“I prefer to donate to those who save lives!” Said the elegant lady that evening.
As if the lives of bereaved families and their physical or mental health are not important.
As if the recurrence in cases of abortion or death in utero was not a highly recurring event, and should not be addressed as such. As if saving fetuses and taking them healthy out of their mothers’ bellies thanks to a correct medical and obstetric framework, very often possible from before conception, were not “saving lives”!

Since 2006 CiaoLapo onlus, with its sole individual strength and with the donations of the families it has supported, has promoted a special type of “no profit” in Italy, of which we are really proud.

In fact, we work to “save” all the lives that can be saved (about 20% of stillbirths), to save the quality of the lives of bereaved parents and to prevent avoidable psychological and medical adverse events every day, all days, with a very small group of selected volunteers and “super-specialists”, leaving nothing to chance.

Our areas of intervention are these:
parents affected by loss in pregnancy and after birth;
the operators of the maternal-infant area involved in assistance, the privileged link of all post-traumatic interventions and prevention of complicated bereavement together with the parents’ family of origin;
society, which knows little and poorly about perinatal bereavement and its dynamics and often inhibits people’s natural resilience by acting as a pathogen;
the knowledge of the medical aspects, both clinical and therefore already known and of research and therefore currently under study in the world and on the PREVENTION of avoidable deaths.

To give an example, 70% of our users in these ten years have obtained specialist information on bereavement and their type of loss only through consultation with our specialists and reading our scientific documents ;
more than half of our users had in fact been discharged without receiving any diagnosis and no realistic and plausible diagnostic hypothesis about what happened and without the necessary in-depth investigations;
in half of the cases of stillbirth, the management of subsequent pregnancies is left at the mercy of conflicting emotions, without competent psychological support, with a medicalization that is often improper, especially of childbirth, and little / no consideration of modifiable risk factors and no one assistance to one;
ten years ago, the voice of mourning parents was lost in the silence of the taboo, there was no space either in the extended community or in the places of care for us parents.

Today, not only can we expect to receive “good enough” assistance in a large number of Italian hospitals, not only do we have clear and comprehensive documents online that can be downloaded for free in real time to allow parents to make informed choices, not just operators they are gradually raising awareness with greater confidence in the operational model and in the theoretical framework that we propose.
Today we can say “perinatal mourning” in public and know that half of the interlocutors (compared to absolute zero in 2006) know what we are talking about, and begin to have respect for the people who live it, without being surprised (too much) if we “had to give birth” or we had a funeral rite.
Today we know that pregnancies following bereavement can be lived with all possible serenity because we know how to listen to parents with a traumatic precedent and how to accompany them in the new path of attachment and parenting, and that this powerfully reduces the relapses of complicated bereavement yes unborn children and their development.

Much of what we have done, many of the rainbow children we have celebrated in our community, the books we have written, the conferences we have promoted, the speakers we invite and the researchers we collaborate with are the fruit of responsible choices, refined studies and deepened, and of a project that brings together independently and free from banners, ideologies, expedients and improvisations, the best of what can be done for women and couples affected by loss during pregnancy and after birth.

Thanks to everyone who supports us. Thanks to all those who donate five per thousand to CiaoLapo, knowing that we too “save” the lives of the affected families and the children to come.

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