In the closing days of October 2019, I would like to honour this as Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, an initiative of the former US President, Ronald Reagan in 1988 in recognition of the grief sustained by bereaved parents. Among the most rewarding outcomes from my work are those where I can assist people in recovering from such loss and either fulfil their family aspirations or repair a relationship damaged by the loneliness of unshared grief.
While we are fortunate – at least in the developed world – to have access to improved health services, conception and birth are themselves, still a miracle. Throughout history, parents have suffered the loss of a child during pregnancy, childbirth or early childhood, and often with it, their dream of a family. With increasing options available today to conceive and carry a baby, as well as contraception alternatives, the impact of loss and the choices we make can weigh heavily on our hearts. And when mothers die while giving birth, leaving fathers and children bereft at a time when a mother is needed most, the pain has far-reaching effects. (There is more to be said about this, and for this article I will focus on the loss of the child.)
As human beings, we are already more resilient than we imagine ourselves to be, and have developed many ways to cope with these losses and ‘move on’ in life. However, when those strategies mask the depth of our grief and loss, the repercussions can be counterproductive.
Regardless of form, this loss is felt not only in the hearts and minds of those nearest but within the family soul itself. Coming to a place of acceptance, recognising that in many cases, it may well have been ‘nature’s way’, do help us to take the steps toward creating the family that wants to be given life. However – and this, fortunately, is more a thing of the past than it is today – when a child is not acknowledged, or there is no time or space for grieving by the mother, father and siblings, it creates disturbance in the family system.
Until the child is included in the family at a soul level, its absence will be felt as a form of discomfort in those who remain. Sometimes, without understanding why, the siblings will feel as if something is missing, that they do not have a right to their own life or find it impossible to carve out a place in the world that is uniquely their own. Frequently, the missing child is a miscarried twin. And when the parents are unable to grieve together or even acknowledge their own pain, the connection between them may suffer. The place meant for that child must be filled, and one way we can facilitate that is through a Family Constellation.
There were times when well-meaning, but misguided medical staff &/or family would ‘protect’ a mother from seeing her baby if they died at birth. Sometimes they were even drugged or left alone, never being able to hold their baby or close the circle through a funeral or burial service, as we do today. Even as I write this, imagining the pain of carrying a baby to term and experiencing such inhumane treatment is unbearable!
Because the love of family is so great, and our connection to one another more profound than our conscious awareness, we may, out of loyalty to the family system, find that we have associated with either a mother or child in the current or previous generation/s. This then shapes our beliefs of what is possible, and we may find ourselves repeating the patterns associated with it. Although it may have been the only way we could cope, in Family Constellations, we identify secrets, lies and exclusions as the primary disturbances in a family system. The child or mother never spoken of, the secrecy surrounding a loss, or the lingering grief of a father or mother, all impact the relationship between the couple themselves and the family as a whole. When we acknowledge this and restore the Orders of Love in a Constellation, peace and harmony can be returned to the family system.
If you or someone in your extended family have experienced any of the following, a Constellation in a Workshop, Private Session or online, coupled with Counselling, could help to bring the peace you seek.
· Loss through Assisted Reproductive Technology (IVF)
· Child loss at birth or during early childhood
· Death of a mother in childbirth