INDIANAPOLIS — Oct. 15 has been designated as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Even though 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, the associated social taboo makes it extremely difficult for couples to express their grief to friends and family.
In comprehensive interviews with 20 couples who had recently experienced a miscarriage, two researchers explored in depth how the couples handled the difficulties they faced when talking to friends and family about their loss.
Jennifer J. Bute and Maria Brann, both associate professors in the Department of Communication Studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, are available to discuss their findings and share practical recommendations for couples grieving the loss of a pregnancy.
Their findings include:
Although miscarriage is often framed as a women’s issue, both partners were deeply affected by the loss of a pregnancy.
Spouses sometimes had different preferences for how widely they wanted to share information about the miscarriage.
All couples described difficult conversations in which people responded to their revelation of the miscarriage with awkward silences, insensitive responses or even hurtful comments.
Bute and Brann say couples coping with the aftermath of a miscarriage might find it helpful to:
Talk to each other not only about their shared loss but also about their preferences for disclosing the loss to friends and family.
Seek support from others who have suffered miscarriage. Couples might find support groups designed for those coping with miscarriage to be a safe space to talk.
Acknowledge that men, too, suffer when a pregnancy is lost, as a means for changing societal views on the topic of miscarriage as taboo.
The study, “Co-Ownership of Private Information in the Miscarriage Context,” is scheduled for publication later this year in Journal of Applied Communication Research and won a Top Four Paper Award from the Interpersonal Communication Division of the National Communication Association.