by Cathi Lammert, RN
• Your relationship as a couple is the most important relationship. Let it take precedence over all others.
• When a baby dies, the grief affects both of you at the same time. Other stresses in a relationship usually do not impact both individuals simultaneously. Therefore, your closest support is not always able to respond to you because he/she is trying to cope with his/her own grief.
• Each person in the relationship will grieve in individual ways. Learning to understand your partner’s ways may take some time and may be difficult.
• Sometimes words are not needed; just your listening ear may help.
• Difficulties may arise in the best of relationships. This may be the first time you may struggle with major differences of opinions. Keep working at communicating your emotional and physical needs.
• Your partner does not have to be your sole supporter. It is OK to share with someone close to you or a support group during this difficult time.
• It is OK to reach out for professional help, it is not a sign of weakness.
• There may be stresses on your sexual relationship. Communicate your intimate feelings openly. Remember, human touch and hugs can be healing.
• Each of you may need some privacy with your feelings. Respect and give each other that space.
• You may feel differently about the choices regarding memorializing your child. Talk about your differences and try to work out a compromise.
• Each of you experienced the death of your baby but you may have had different hopes and dreams for your baby. Sharing your lost dreams can give you some insight into each other’s feelings.
• You are not the same person you were before your baby died. It may take time to accept and understand the new person.
• Each of you will search for a meaning of your loss; one or both may turn to faith or spirituality, one or both may not.
• Your baby has given you many gifts, exploring those gifts may warm your heart. Your priorities in life may change for the better.
• It is okay to enjoy life again. Your baby does not expect you to be sad all of the time. Sharing laughter and tears together helps you to heal. Search for some relaxing things to do; it may help give you a new perspective.
• This is a difficult time for both of you. Remember that if your relationship was secure prior to your loss, it can become a deeper relationship during and after your healing.
About the Author: As a bereaved parent, Cathi combines her personal experience with her education and professional background as an obstetrical nurse. Her son, Christopher Michael lived just 4 days and died due to Hydrops Fetalis, a complication of Rh sensitization. She and her husband Chuck have been involved with Share since 1983. Cathi is the Executive Director of the National Office of SHARE Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc. The part of her job that touches her most is time spent hands on with bereaved families and their precious babies. She feels the bereaved parents have been her greatest teachers.
Among her other credits include participating in the Stillbirth Research Roundtable supported by the National Institute of Health, acting as a consultant and advocate for the passage of MO House Bill 1136 supporting the need for a birth resulting in stillbirth certificate and for proper disposition for early pregnancy losses, and becoming the First President of the National Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance (PLIDA). She now is serving a new term as the President. Cathi also served as Executive producer with DIA and Stepstone Productions for national video series Grieving in the NICU Mending Broken Hearts When a Baby Dies.