Personal Views

There is now a place to grieve

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 21 October 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1098
  1. Helene Armstrong

    One October many years ago I gave birth to a stillborn baby boy. It was a profound, wild grief which too quickly had to be restrained, contained, eventually smothered. I had left the hospital emptyhanded, in a daze, and simply gone back to my empty flat.

    Although I was single and my relationship with the father was bad, there were promises of another baby. Being the only one to cry, I could allow myself only as much mourning as I could bear. I had to be positive. Indeed, I quickly had a second child, a girl. But despite my delight I was not well. Stomach cramps and pains often incapacitated me, but laparoscopic and ultrasound examinations showed nothing abnormal.

    I went to see a therapist who encouraged me to describe and visualise my pains. They felt like contractions and working on that theme I finally screamed out, “A baby. It's a baby crying, he is in pain because he can't breathe.” When I finally calmed down I could say for the first time, “and his name is Thomas.”

    From then on it all went very quickly. I rang the hospital where he was born, wanting to …

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