A grief ignored: narratives of pregnancy loss from a male perspective

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101 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Abstract This paper, utilising a narrative approach, aims to describe the experiences of men whose partner had experienced pregnancy loss, based on data from Northern Ireland. The methodology was based upon observation within pregnancy loss self-help groups and in-depth interviews with 14 men who attended the groups. The study also included interviews with 32 midwives and nurses, with the intention of examining attitudes within the medical context towards bereaved fathers. The impact of pregnancy loss on male partners has been largely overlooked in academic research. When a baby dies before birth the loss can be devastating for fathers yet, very often, the world that surrounds them tends to discount their loss, and emotional support and cultural rituals that are normally available to other bereaved individuals are often absent for this group of men. Previous research has shown that men are expected to be emotionally strong in order to support their partner. The present study will show that the perception that men have only a supportive role in pregnancy loss is unjustified, as it ignores the actual life-world experiences of the men, and the meanings they attach to their loss, in what may be a very personal emotional tragedy for them where they have limited support available. The study uncovered several recurring themes including self-blame; loss of identity; and the need to appear strong and hide feelings of grief and anger. There is consideration of the need for hospital staff and the wider community to acknowledge the male partner's grief as being a valid response to the bereavement suffered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-350
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Volume26
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords

  • pregnancy loss
  • male grief
  • support
  • narrative
  • emotion

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