Forever Mama: a bereavement journal for mothers of stillborn babies
Sophie Verhoeven, PhD
We lost our son after 23 weeks of pregnancy. In the following grieving process, I was looking for ways to get a grip on the rollercoaster of emotions. Professionals helped me by listening and reflecting. But no one could give me an answer on how to mourn. ‘Do what you think is best for you,’ that is what I heard a lot.
I kept on searching for something to hold on too. Something to make sense of my feelings and to help me remember. What helped me most was keeping a diary. I continued writing in my pregnancy diary. In between the happy pictures of the diary I wrote about the hospital visits, the DNA-test, my sadness and my struggles with every domain in life. I wrote letters to my son and phrases of my daughter about my son. It was my way to hold on to memories and the love for my son.
After a while I decided to develop a diary that is especially for bereaved mothers of stillborn babies. It aims at giving mothers some grip and direction in their grieving process in a way that doesn’t prescribe them what to do or feel. The diary contains of twelve chapters. Six chapters about the months of being pregnant up until the funeral and six chapters about different domains in life (taking care of yourself, your relationship, other children, family, friends and getting back to work). Every chapter consists of a short introduction on the theme and my personal experiences, blank pages for their own stories, reflective questions and creative exercises. All meant to help a mother remember their child and the love they feel for ever.
I’m certain a bereavement diary would have helped me in my process. But will it help other mothers? In my session I would like to start a dialogue about ways to contribute to the grieving process of bereaved mothers. What instruments do you have? In what way do they help and how might a diary contribute to your practice?
No ethics approval required.