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Dear Annie: Our longed-for baby was stillborn at 24 weeks. I was devastated. We cried together, but since then I’ve done my best to keep it together for my partner as she recovers physically and emotionally.
The grief’s eating me up from inside and it’s becoming hard to cope. It’s been six months. I don’t want to add to my partner’s burden. What do I do? – BF
Annie says: I’m so sorry to hear about your baby. What a terrible thing for you both to have to go through. Grief, in all its uniqueness, is such an isolating experience, but baby loss can be particularly lonely making as it’s often so misunderstood.
I can hear your dilemma of wanting to be strong for your partner and yet also longing to express your feelings about your loss. I would really encourage you to find a way to communicate this to your partner. You needn’t ‘burden’ her with your grief if you gently ask her how she would feel if you shared a little about what you’re experiencing.
I wouldn’t be surprised if in fact she was grateful for this, as it may feel like some kind of permission for her to share as well. All too often in partnerships, when dealing with grief, both individuals are so focused on being strong for the other that neither actually get to share as much as they’d like to.
This can often lead to resentment later on. It’s clear you are aware of the difference in your experiences, and this can be named with each other. But don’t forget, you also share something very profound from this dreadfully sad experience.
- Our Help & Resources section has details of support organisations that help parents to cope with grief after stillbirth and pregnancy loss.
If you’ve lost someone close to you, or been affected by a bereavement, psychotherapist Annie Broadbent is here to help. If you have a question for her to answer in this column, write to her at DearAnnie@funeralguide.com
Annie Broadbent is a trained psychosynthesis counsellor, with specialist experience working with the bereaved. As a therapist she explores the mind, body, feelings and spirit, working with individuals in a way that is most appropriate for them.
She is the author of bestselling self-help book We Need to Talk About Grief, inspired by personal experiences of living through bereavement, including her own. Whilst writing her book, Annie volunteered at St Christopher's Hospice and has given a number of talks on issues around grief, bereavement and mental health.