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Family Life Ministry - Diocese of Leeds
Baby Loss Awareness 03 / 07 / 2018

Miscarriage and Early Baby Loss is a short new booklet for all bereaved parents, for parishes and for anyone who wants to know how best to support anyone who has lost a baby during pregnancy or in the early months and years after birth. 

This was not an easy book to write so it may not be an easy read. All grief is hard but if we are not well 'held' or 'accompanied' at these critical early times after the loss, we can find ourselves with a loss that is never properly mourned. 

Our particular experiences of baby loss were particularly difficult for us, partly because of a family culture of not showing emotions (emotions like sadness and regret and grief anyway) and partly because the incidents of such loss are, thankfully, statistically so rare that very few people we ever met know what it was like (so, although there are organisations that can help, on the whole, being a bereaved parent is a very lonely place to be). 

This is a  relatively short book or booklet so it does not tell our full story. Instead I have tried to glean the learning we have experienced that may be of more general help for those who suffer the loss of a baby (at any stage of pregnancy and birth and after birth and for any reason). 

There is a short section of other people's stories and there is a short introduction to some healing or memorial habits that can help. Written from a Catholic Christian perspective these rituals can also be adapted for use in secular or other faith traditions. Although, thankfully, rare, baby loss is nevertheless a universal experience and the learnings in this book are of universal application. 

One thing I have learnt is that losing a child at any stage and in any way can have a devastating effect on the parents (and on the wider family and friends). Everything can rapidly become accelerated and inflated especially if that loss is not well supported and the parents' grief is not properly honoured. Dr Kenneth Doka, a specialist in gerontology and grief (whose work I recommend highly) has identified this as a particular problem for some people, such as the parents of miscarriage and other early baby losses, whose losses are not well recognised or accepted culturally. Dr Doka calls this 'disenfranchised' grief.

Complicated and difficult as any loss is, if our feelings about that loss are ignored, minimised, belittled or in any other way unacknowledged, in other words, to use Dr Doka's term 'disenfranchised' it can rapidly entrench a repression that makes it exceedingly difficult to remember and honour our children as we really would want to should the conditions be different.

My hope is that this book will help every bereaved parent to mourn and to remember their child in the way that they want to and that it will also help everyone else, especially those who want to know how best to support and accompany someone undergoing the devastation of the death of their child.  

Breda Theakston  


"You have written a wonderful book with such kindness and care covering delicate areas with total compassion and loving gentleness...It moved me to tears (healing variety) on several occasions but the last paragraph on page 27 stopped me in my tracks with its simple beauty."A Reader 


"To say that this wee volume is inspiring is understatement. It should be compulsory reading for all seminarians and priests, to give them an inkling of the devastating complexity suffered by at least one in four pregnant women." Denis Blackledge S.J.


"Usually I say 'could not put it down' about a novel or short story. But it was like that when I read your tender tactful book yesterday. Thank you. It's so well written, that it preserves naturalness, with the power to be authoritative just where necessary" A Reader


"I read it in one sitting and am sitting here with tears in my eyes as you so eloquently describe the pain of grief, which most of us have experienced, if not through miscarriage and infant death, through living a long loving life.

Congratulations on such a thoughtful exploration. Each step seems carefully considered and you maintain your personal experience while allowing others their own.I like your non judgmental stance on whether or not a baby is wanted. I'm sure that will help people who felt ambivalent before their loss." A Reader


"Miscarriage is so often regarded as an inconvenience, a minor difficulty, not to be made a fuss over, yet as the author shows, baby loss at any stage can be overwhelming. Her caring sensitivity helps the reader to understand the grief involved, and ways to help. In particular, she emphasises the need to grieve, a process which 'takes as long as it takes'. There are no rules about how a person feels, how they and those around them will react, and how long grieving and recovery take. What is important is the listening ear." RP Reviews


"Breda Theakston's insightful and compassionate book provides information and guidance to those experiencing miscarriage and early baby loss, and those who are supporting them. It calls for greater recognition of the feelings that people may experience at the time and afterwards. The book includes some beautiful visualisation exercises which can help to provide comfort and ease grief. I hope it will be widely read so that this often traumatic experience can be treated with greater sensitivity" RP Reviews


"...really good, sensitive, very helpful for anyone going through the process now, or at any time. A much needed resource" A Reader


"Its honesty and emotional and spiritual depth will help many people..." A Reader



This book can be borrowed from the FLM library, contact me at breda.theakston@dioceseofleeds.org.uk or purchased (£4.95 each) from Redemptorist Publications 


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