perinatal grief

The perinatal grief in the case of Juna: “It seems that they are less important deaths”

When a child dies during the perinatal period, it is not recorded as a baby in any official register: “These deaths are being treated as abortions,” says Juna’s mother

Juna was the first daughter of Raquel and Ivan. She died after 38 weeks and five days of gestation but is not recorded as a death in any official register.

The Olot couple, together with twenty organizations from all over the state, are fighting to change the law so that it recognizes the death of children in the perinatal period, that is, between 22 weeks of gestation and the first week of life.

“They deny the existence of our daughter”, say, Raquel and Ivan, who felt abandoned by the administration. According to Juna’s mother:

“These deaths are being treated as abortions. The first time you take it, you can’t even give it a name.”

No right to leave of absence to mourn

But it’s not just bureaucratic procedures, she had to go through the whole process alone because her father didn’t have the right to leave work. These cases are still not recognized and, therefore, there are no measures to favor the families who suffer from it. 

Grief in these situations is still a taboo subject and little recognized in society. Each year approximately 2,500 babies die during the perinatal period in Spain and, in half of the cases, the causes of death are unknown. “They seem to be less important deaths,” says Juna’s mother.

Judith claims that there is a social stigma that makes it even more difficult to go through mourning :

 “Society is not educated or prepared to accompany these deaths because these are babies they have not seen or touched.”

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They have presented rectifications to the new Family Law 

Together with the association Bressols Girona,  they have presented amendments to the draft of the new Family Law, approved in December. According to Natàlia Artigas, neonatal psychologist and member of the Bressols Girona association:

“Today, there are still families who, depending on the hospital where they are born, receive more or less support, due to ignorance, lack of protocols or fear, because a death situation is always scary.”

Around twenty perinatal bereavement organizations have been developed throughout the State and some parties have contacted parents to provide support.

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