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Module 4Lack of knowledge about the grief process - age old wisdom

Guilt and the grief process

When a baby dies, a parent naturally feels responsible. Guilt is enormous, regardless of what that parent did or did not do. You may see these types of guilt:

  • Death causation: Somehow I caused the death, stillbirth or miscarriage.
  • Role guilt: Being a parent means being responsible for your children.
  • “If only" guilt: “If only I had checked on the baby earlier; if only I hadn’t lifted those heavy boxes while I was pregnant;” etc.
  • Moral guilt: The baby died as punishment for my sins.
  • Survival Guilt: “I wish I had died. Why the baby not me?”
  • Recovery Guilt: "How can I be happy when my baby is dead?"

Your role is to listen and avoid judging their reactions or trying to make the guilt go away. If they are open to it, suggest that parents discuss their concerns with their health care professionals to learn about the actual medical facts. Sometimes it is easier to think that one is responsible for a tragedy than to think that such a terrible thing could happen for no reason at all.

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