Though grief and the act of grieving is generally understood on a large-scale, when it comes to perinatal grief, the loss of a baby at gestation or shortly after birth, it is not always understood or respected. Those of us who are experiencing perinatal grief have been faced with mistreatment in one form or another — whether that be from the insensitive doctor or the friend who just doesn’t seem to get that it’s real.
You have rights to your grief and the process just as anyone else does who is experiencing their own grief. Regardless of your own specific circumstances and regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, socio-economic status, ability, religious beliefs or geographical location — we at Unspoken Grief believe that anyone experiencing perinatal grief has certain rights.
The Perinatal Grief Bill of Rights:
1. You have the right to grieve.
It doesn’t matter how far along you were in your pregnancy or how old your child was, you have the right to grieve.
2. You have the right to experience grief in your own way.
Not everyone grieves the same way and you have the right to experience it how you will experience it. On your own timeline and terms.
3. You have the right to be treated with respect and dignity.
Whether you’re in the hospital, a doctor’s office, or with other people — you have the right to be treated with respect. You have the right to being told what’s happening in a respectful manner and the space to ask questions before being rushed to make decisions.
4. You have the right to have your child(ren) treated with respect and dignity.
It doesn’t matter how old your child was at the time of their passing, they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. You have the right to have their names said and not cold, medical language in their place, and to have their bodies treated with compassion and respect.
5. You have the right to be fully informed on your rights as a parent.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- being presented all your options on the process and being fully talked through what to expect
- getting a second opinion or any additional medical tests for confirmation of the next step
- being informed of your rights with your child’s body
- having all your questions answered, respectfully
- not having scare-tactics used to rush you to an important decision
- to be supported by all medical staff with compassion, dignity, and concern
6. You have the right to memorialize, celebrate, and remember.
You have the right to acknowledge the special dates associated to your grief and the right to celebrate, memorialize, or honor in however you feel most comfortable.
7. You have the right to experience grief attacks or triggers.
Grief attacks are sudden and seemingly out of nowhere attacks where the grief seems to come flooding back. You have the right to feel these, whenever they may occur. They can catch you off guard and may be frightening, so please seek out someone to talk to who understands. You have the right to gentle care when you experience triggers to your grief or the unexpected attacks.
8. You have the right to be informed on the differences between grief and when it may be something more.
You have the right to a medical professional who acknowledges and informs you on the differences and similarities between grief and depression and one who will treat them as such. You have the right to evidence-based treatment options and the right to take part in any treatment plans.
9. You have the right to speak, share, and remember.
You have the right to your voice and story being heard. You have the right to have your child’s short life acknowledged. You have the right to friends who will support instead of leave. You have the right to share photos, memories, stories, and pain without being told to stop or ostracized.
10. You have the right to seek support.
Finding support whether that be through writing in your private journal, seeking support from others who have been through it, or through private counseling, you have the right to get the support you need in a way that fits you the best.
What would you add to your bill of rights for perinatal grief?
Photo credit: adapted from nicubunu.photo | Flickr