Differences in coping with perinatal grief in the couple: a clinical vignette

Differences in coping with perinatal grief in the couple: a clinical vignette

Díaz de Neira Hernando, Mónica (1), Forti Buratti, M. Azul (2), Sánchez Cuadra, Ana (3)

(1) Psicóloga Clínica Hospital Puerta de Hierro Majadahonda, (2) Psiquiatra Hospital Puerta de Hierro Majadahonda, (3) Psicóloga General Sanitaria, Universidad Internacional de la Rioja.

The birth of a child that will not live is an emotionally intense experience for the parents. However, both parents do not always experience it the same way. We present a clinical vignette in order to analyse causes and effects of this differential approach within the couple.

We had a referral of a couple whose child died after premature birth (23 weeks + 2 days). Initially, they both showed an avoidant pattern towards the loss. However, the mother slowly experienced changes in her way of coping with bereavement, showing a more active attitude. She connected with her pain, sadness and guilt. His partner though, maintained an avoidant pattern, making an effort in avoiding his sorrow. However, when he started to show anxiety symptoms (anxiety attacks) he did not connect them to the grief. These symptoms increased the couple stress. Psychological support was focused in increasing mentalizing abilities in the couple through this experience. When looking for factors that may affect this gender differences we found: personal and life variables; differences in mother-to-child and father-to-child bond during pregnancy; and cultural variables in relation to gender attributions.

In this case we illustrate how the conflict the couple is experiencing when coping with the baby loss in different ways affect the normal process of bereavement in perinatal loss.

Ethics statement:
Consent was given by patient to present this postrer. Steps were taken to ensure the patient cannot be recognized

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