Finding Healing and Improving Mental Health

Following Miscarriage, Pregnancy Loss, Termination, Stillbirth & Infant Death




  • Women who find meaning in their loss report decreased mental distress, increased marital satisfaction, ongoing bonds with their deceased child, and better physical health (Caccitore, 2013; Jaffe, 2014).

  • It is not uncommon for mothers to remain connected to their baby and continue the relationship through ritual for many years after the death of their baby (Caccitore, 2013; Cote_Arsenault & Mahlangu, 1999; Jaffe, 2014; Uren & Wastell, 2002).

  • Parents feel empowered when they create their own rituals to maintain this connection (Brin, 2004).

  • It may take many years to come to a sense of meaning and experience healing (Caccitore & Bushfield, 2007).




  • Social support plays a role in buffering the effects of trauma and in mediating stress after bereavement (Caccitore, 2013; Caccitore, Schnebly, & Froen, 2008; Kersting & Wagner, 2012).

  • Women are searching for an environment where they have permission to talk about their child’s death and meet other mothers in a similar situation (Caccitore, Schnebly, & Froen, 2008; Jaffe, 2014).

  • An intervention that allows mothers to express their emotions and retell their stories helps to decrease depression, self-blame, and trauma (Caccitore, 2013).

  • Women find bereavement support groups and talking with other parents helpful because they validate their experience, provide comfort and connection, and reverse isolation (Caccitore & Bushfield, 2007).

  • Resilience is a character trait that has been observed to be a counterweight to mitigate mental distress. Support networks are a major ingredient of resilience and are significantly associated with decreases in both depression and PTSD (Caccitore, Schnebly, & Froen, 2008; Gold, Leon, Boggs, & Sen, 2016), as well as with improvements in health outcomes and prevention of disease (Hutti, 2004).


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Cacciatore, J. (2007). Effects of support groups on post traumatic stress responses in women experiencing stillbirth. Omega, 55(1), 71-90.

Caccitore, J. (2013). Psychological effects of stillbirth. Seminars in Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 18(2), 76-82. doi: 10.1016/j.siny.2012.09.001

Caccitore, J. & Bushfield, S. (2007). Stillbirth: The mother’s experience and implications for improving care. Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life & Palliative Care, 3(3), 59-79.

Caccitore, J., Froen, J. F., & Killian, M. (2013). Condemning self, condemning other: Blame and mental health in women suffering stillbirth. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 35(4), 342-359.

Caccitore, J., Schnebly, S., & Froen, J. F. (2008). The effects of social support on maternal anxiety and depression after stillbirth. Health and Social Care in the Community. doi : 10.1111/j.1365-2524.2008.00814.x

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Kersting, A. & Wagner. B. (2012). Complicated grief after perinatal loss. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 14(2), 197-194.

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