For many parents a stillbirth death is emotionally painful and at times unbearable. The process of healing can take time. How much time it takes to recover from a stillbirth death really depends on each individual person. To help understand the possible causes of a stillbirth death and what type of help is available for parents who are coping with a stillbirth death, I have interviewed therapist Rachael Stracka, LCSW, BCD.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and have been in private practice in San Diego County for 10 years. I specialize in fertility and pregnancy loss.”
What are some causes of a stillbirth death?
“A large amount of stillbirth causes are unknown even after autopsy. Some of the known causes of stillbirth are birth defects in the infant, chromosomal aberrations, and problems with the internal condition in the womb such as placental abruption, umbilical cord entanglement, and maternal medical condition.”
What type of impact can a stillbirth death have on a marriage?
“Stillbirth death can have a tremendous effect on a marriage. The experience of having a stillbirth can be considered high on the trauma scale and should be treated as such. Both parents will experience intense emotions that will likely fluctuate for a long time. The first year is usually the toughest to get through with the anniversary of the stillbirth marking the end of that year. However, the feelings can continue. Since everyone experiences grief differently, it can be jarring to a couple. There may be blame and isolation involved, or at times, the couple is drawn together having gone through a deeply moving and trying shared experience. It is typical for there to be gender lines drawn in the grieving process. Symptoms for women are usually more emotionally based and somatic while men’s grief can manifest itself in withdrawal, problems at work, and increased alcohol use.”
What can a married couple do to help cope with a stillbirth death?
“The biggest piece of advice for couples that have experienced a stillbirth is for them to communicate with each other as well as with others. They need to be able to keep a bridge open between the two of them in order to stay connected. That bridge needs to include respect for other’s differences in grieving and mourning, understanding the other’s needs, and finding ways to support each other. Outside support can be very important too as the partner may not be able to give the other what they need due to their own grief process. Having a mourning ritual or rituals is important as well such as having a memorial or other way to mark the death.”
What type of help is available for couple that has gone through a stillbirth death?
“Help is available for a couple that has gone through a stillbirth. Attending counseling together or alone can be very helpful, especially if there seem to be difficulties communicating at home. There are also online resources like Missing Grace and Empty Cradle where support groups can be found.”
What last advice would you like to give to a couple that is coping with a stillbirth death?
“It is important to remember that experiencing a stillbirth can be quite traumatic, but there is help and support available to help ease the pain in some ways. One must be aware of any possible complications with grief that can occur such as after a couple has gone through infertility treatments, if there has been a history of miscarriages, or if it was a birth of multiples. If any of these are present or if one or both of the partners experiences depression or anxiety that seems to be worrisome, then professional help should be sought.”
Thank you Rachael for the interview on how to cope with a stillbirth death. If you would like more information on Rachael Stracka you can check out her website on www.CreateMyBestLife.com.
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