Every birth is a triumph of nature. Unfortunately, nature is often not as kind and benevolent as we’d like, and it’s in those instances we find grief and mourning. We hear a lot about the mourning of perinatal loss, often known as stillbirth, but it wasn’t always so. In fact, it has only been in very recent decades that study has been directed to the grieving process associated with perinatal loss. Before this time, both the clinical and, in many cases, cultural and religious perspective in many nations was that “no great loss” had occurred and the parents were simply expected to move on.
It turns out that’s easier said than done. Parents, especially expectant mothers who have experienced a perinatal loss go through a powerful grieving experience. By most accounts this is very comparable to other forms of grief, but with many significant differences. The first of which is that the loss itself takes a much greater position than in most other grieving processes. This is because the child was never known to the parents and they had very few experiences to share. Memories and other “objects” for attachment are only grieved as unfulfilled potential.
This often leads to the grief taking on unhealthy characteristics. Instead of being able to easily cope, parents often begin to blame themselves for their loss. They can feel like “failures” in their biological imperative when they are anything but. One particularly striking aspect of this type of grief is that the mother often begins to fear to try having another child, or that her partner will despise her, feel let down by her, or leave her. A primary reason for this is actually cultural but the “strong, silent, manly” style of mourning is absolutely the worst thing possible for a couple working through this ordeal. Communication is key.
As mentioned before, parents were pushed culturally to “just get over it” and the lost child was typically taken away before the parents could hold or often even see the child. One burgeoning perspective, based on the above research, is that if the parents can “get to know” the stillborn child, name it, very often dress it, and so forth, they can form some attachments and memories with the child that will allow them to work through a more traditional, less complex form of grief. That’s where the CuddleCot comes in, a specialized bassinet that cools down the baby and allows the parents time to meet their “angel baby.” After Brittney and Brady Rasco lost their daughter Brylen Danielle at birth, they were inspired to help other parents through their losses. They’ve donated a CuddleCot to Covenant hospital in Lubbock and intend to donate a second to the UMC health system there as well.