Heart-breaking news

by Claudia Ravaldi

Speaking carefully in the newspapers about perinatal bereavement is possible and necessary.

I like those who carefully choose the words not to say

Alda Merini

These days they have bounced on local newspapers and on online newspapers numerous news of mourning and perinatal death (we report here the most appropriate ones in our opinion): these news, which concern women, couples, entire families, are very similar for the titles, for the structure of the text and for the brevity with which the topic is addressed. The cut chosen is almost always that of the news, with a purely informative purpose, sometimes even hasty. It still happens, unfortunately it happens that the news is given in a markedly sensationalist way.

As if the purpose of this news were to “break the news”. Throw it out. Turn it around.

Without, however, evaluating in an exhaustive and responsible way the consequences that the news has on those who read it and on those who are, at the same time , reader and protagonist of the event.

The parents, the relatives of the dead child, the health workers who worked with that couple.

How do they experience the fact of reading themselves in the newspapers and being exposed, I would say violated, in their status as people already traumatized by a serious and painful event and as such deserving of care, support and protection?

What is it like to live an experience in two ways? Inside of us, and then, also, at the same time, outside, in the newspapers, in black and white? What is it like to read the name of your dead son in big letters? What does it leave inside?

These news often “come out on their own”, without asking permission from the parents or operators involved. In fact, these news are rarely disseminated after in-depth “interviews” with the affected parents, they are almost never written by direct request from parents, or on the initiative of operators for educational and health purposes. Often parents and caregivers don’t even know that an article is being written about them. They know this when the news starts bouncing on him on social media, by email or on the street, on the newsboys of the newspapers.

A shower of news about your baby’s death, while you are still there wondering if it really happened. A rain of hypotheses, insinuations, unsolicited opinions, details of your health or that of your child thrown to the crowd. Without even asking.

A shower of information (the mother’s age, the job she does, how many weeks of gestation it was, and what the doctors said about the incident is never lacking) that becomes a storm.

From breaking-news – news of the last hour, to heartbreaking- news, news-spaccacuore the step is short. Very short. And it doesn’t take long to figure it out. Just be the protagonist of the rain of news, to learn the difference on your skin.

The mother of Celeste, Andrea, Anna, Luca and a hundred others know this.

Words are important, I’ve been saying this for years.

It could be argued that whatever words we use in these cases will not change the reality of things.

And this is true, if by ” reality of things ” we only and exclusively mean the death of a child.

If, on the other hand, in “the reality of things” we include what remains after a perinatal death, that is, mourning and its processing , the words used become of fundamental importance for the balance and health of parents and the family.

That’s why in perinatal mourning, (and also, I write it here in black on white in bold, in all situations of grief or trauma in general, including news related to the suicide , to infanticide , to cot death ) the role of those who think, write and spread the news is no less important than those who take care of the bereaved person.

It can facilitate that person’s support and promote in the best words possible the processing of the trauma, or hinder the processing, creating the aforementioned storm.

Doctors, health workers, family members, journalists, are jointly responsible for the well-being of people who are experiencing grief and trauma, each for its own competence.

Their actions, their words, the tones chosen to communicate the event or to communicate about the event have important consequences in the short, medium and long term.

We know it well. Everyone must know.

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