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The meaning of perinatal loss for women in Newfoundland : a phenomenological study

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  • Perinatal Death--Newfoundland And Labrador--Psychological Aspects
  • Fetal Death--Newfoundland And Labrador--Psychological Aspects
  • Bereavement--Newfoundland And Labrador--Psychological Aspects
  • Fetal Death--Psychology--Newfoundland And Labrador
  • Pregnancy--Psychology--Newfoundland And Labrador
  • Infant Mortality--Newfoundland And Labrador
  • Grief
  • Philosophy


Pregnancy is generally a time of joyous anticipation and positive outcomes for expectant couples. However, the expected birth of a healthy baby can come to a tragic end with a sudden, unanticipated pregnancy loss. This event can be devastating for women, their partners, and their families. Although there is a large body of literature on parental responses to perinatal loss and some of the factors influencing grief intensity, very few studies have examined a woman's lived experience with perinatal loss. This phenomenological study used van Manen's method to explore the question: What is the meaning of perinatal loss for women who have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth? From the data collected in unstructured interviews, seven themes were identified: shattering of hopes and dreams; centrality of the loss; shared grieving: identifying and accepting differing coping styles; dealing with others; dealing with the loss; living with emotional uncertainty: gentle reminders; and letting go and moving on. The essence of this experience was searching for meaningful integration. The findings indicate that women who have early and late perinatal losses cope with feelings of loss and grief in an individualized manner. In searching for meaning in her experience, each woman was influenced by the responses of partners, family, others in the social world, and health care providers.

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