Stillbirth: The forgotten grief

Meir Nadav, Yael Besor, Asher Shiber

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    Dead-birth or stillbirth is a recognized medical phenomenon. Unfortunately, the psychological aspects of stillbirth received scant and minor attention from researchers and practitioners alike. In contrast with the mentalistic perspective on mourning, propagated by Freud and his followers, we present an alternative socio-semiotic approach to mourning. This approach may help us to understand the unique difficulty, which is associated with stillbirth mourning. In this paper, we highlight the major difficulties facing the mourning process of parents who experienced stillbirth. Our main argument is that the lost fetus is conceived by the society as a non-person and as such does not receive the legitimacy to be mourned. This situation creates strong tension between the personal grief of the parents and their wish to mourn the lost fetus and the lack of legitimate social practices for mourning. This gap might result in a psychopathological response. This article concludes by providing suggestions and guidelines for improving treatment provided for stillbirth parents.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)870-874
    Number of pages5
    Issue number12
    StatePublished - 1 Dec 2005

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine (all)


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