Response #
Past experience of grief
Respondent details
55-64 | Female | Dutch
Q1: What was the nature of your relationship with the person who died?
It was my unborn child.
Q2: How has the person’s death affected you during the hours, days, and weeks that followed?
From my 40th to my 50th there was a heavy mourning period that was accompanied by depression and anxiety complaints.
Q3: How, if at all, have your relationships with other people (particular individuals and other people in general) been affected by the bereavement?
There is a great ignorance about being childless not by choice. People don't understand. So I've been very lonely. I also notice that this study is not aimed at loss processing in involuntary childlessness. So I participate to draw attention to this as well.
Q4: Does the surrounding world seem any different to you while grieving? If so, how?
The world seemed closed and unattainable. As if I was no longer part of it.
Q5: Has your experience of time changed in any way?
I don't understand this question. I do know that during the mourning it seemed as if time stood still and passed very slowly.
Q6: Has your body felt any different during grief?
I did not feel connected to my body. It seemed like my lower body didn't belong to me and I didn't feel it either.
Q7: Has grief interfered in any way with your ability and motivation to perform various tasks, including paid work?
In the period from my 40th to 50th year there are times when I functioned at a low level. I have always been able to do my job, but this took a lot of effort.
Q8: Is your experience of grief changing over time? If so, how?
The loss has taken hold slowly and with a number of forms of therapies. But the loss will demand attention, especially at different stages of life. For example, now I am faced with the fact that I will never have grandchildren and that I also cannot get help or support from children in getting older.
Q9: Have you ever found yourself looking for the person who died or expecting that person to appear?
I have often thought about what my child would look like, how it would treat his or her nieces or nephews. I have dreamed about children's parties, the boyfriends or girlfriends. Graduation. The son or daughter-in-law, the marriage of my child and now the grandchildren.
Q10: Are there times, places, and occasions that have made you especially aware of the person’s absence?
The world is centered on motherhood and children. In any situation wherever you are there are always conversations about children or you are confronted with motherhood. There is no way around it.
Q11: People who are grieving often report experiencing the presence of the person who died. Have you had any experiences that you would describe in those terms?
I have had very bad dreams of losing my child. That it was taken away.
Q12: Do you still feel a sense of connection with the person? If so, could you say something about when you feel this and what the experience is like?
My unborn child has been given a place in my heart. He or she is always connected with my love. When I feel the most sadness, I try to connect with my body and my belly to stay connected.
Q13: Since the person died, is there anything that you have been doing in order to feel close to them?
In one of my therapy sessions I put an empty photo frame as a symbol between the photo frames of my other loved ones. This to give a place to the loss. Later I painted a beautiful heart and it is now in the frame.
Q14: Is there anything that you do in order to avoid being reminded of the person or of their death?
See also above.
I have been a member of the Gateway Women for a month. A community of involuntary childless women. Here I can share experiences and stay connected.
Q15: Has anything in particular helped you to cope with grief? Has anything made you feel better or worse?
See above.
Q16: How understanding have other people been? Have others said or done anything that you've found especially helpful or unhelpful?
Overall, there is no understanding or imagination for the grief of involuntarily being childless. Fortunately there are people around me who have been loving and attentive to me as a person.
Q17: How, if at all, has your experience of bereavement changed you as a person?
I have become a more mature person but there is a wound that never closes and always needs to be cared for.
Q18: How, if at all, does grief over the death of a person differ from other forms of loss that you have experienced?
There is no difference in the expression and experience of grief. At most that duration and intensity differs.
Q19: Are there any aspects of grief that you find particularly puzzling or difficult to put into words?
Fear and anger are difficult emotions to articulate and express.
Shame is also very hindering.
Does my grief and my unborn child have a place?
This is also the case in this study. Actually, the unborn child has no place. After all, it has never been an existing person to the outside world.
Q20: Are there any important aspects of your experience that we have not addressed?
See above