Congenital loss: Loss of an immediate family member prior to or during one’s birth

Michal Mahat Shamir, Shani Pitcho-Prelorentzos, Ronit D. Leichtentritt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The loss of a family member is often conceptualized as a disruption in one’s life story. However, when a loss occurs prior to, or during, one’s birth, the bereaved life stories are not interrupted by the loss, but rather begin with loss. The paper offers a new conceptualization of these losses as “congenital losses” and captures the core aspects of this phenomenon. A qualitative phenomenological analysis of 34 in-depth semi-structured interviews with offspring and siblings whose family members died before/during their birth revealed four main challenges presented by congenital loss: incoherency and fragmentation; story-ownership; bond-establishment, and; identity challenges.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDeath Studies
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology


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