Everyone talks about the village needed to raise a baby. The need for support from relatives, support from other other parents with similar aged children, support from daycare and schools, and support from the overall community. Parents can't simply do it all on their own, especially in today's modern world where the expectations for parenting can be downright overwhelming.
From the minute a pregnancy is announced, the expectant parents hear all sorts of advice like "nap when the baby naps" or "you think you're tired now, just wait..." Some families luck out with a village - they have the support in place to get them through the rough days, someone else to rely on for advice or just to be a listening ear.
But what happens when the pregnancy ends unexpectedly? When the unthinkable occurs and the baby dies? The village tends to disappear. Maybe not right away, but often within weeks after the baby's death. The funeral is over, friends and family leave, and then the check-ins with the bereaved parents tend to become more and more spaced out. The world goes back to normal while the heartbroken parents are left to grieve alone, feeling more isolated than ever.
Some hospitals have a social worker helping while the parents are in the hospital, some have a clinician who will call to follow-up in the weeks following. But many hospitals do not have these procedures in place or are understaffed to adequately provide the ongoing bereavement care the parents will need. Some parents are handed a folder of resources but often the last thing a bereaved mother or father wants to do is read.
The village is needed so desperately to grieve the baby - not just in the weeks following the death, but in the months and years following. Grief is ongoing and while it may change over time, parents will never forget their baby and will always wonder what could have been. Bereaved parents deserve just as much support as they would have received should the baby lived - this is what our society needs to recognize.
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