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Parents experiencing a perinatal death found that their interactions with social institutions devalued their loss

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QUESTION: How do parents of infants who die in the perinatal period experience interactions with social institutions related to the death?


Qualitative analysis of narratives from interviews.


Interviews were conducted in 2 large cities, a small town, and several rural communities in 2 provinces in Canada.


Parents (16 women and 6 men) who had lost an infant at ≥20 weeks gestational age were recruited through a newspaper advertisement and from 2 bereavement support groups. 16 infants were stillborn, 5 lived for a few hours, and 1 lived for 7.5 days.


Semistructured interviews were usually held in the participants' homes. Parents described their interactions with healthcare providers, social workers, funeral directors, insurance agents, clergy, family, and friends. Analysis was both inductive and deductive; data were coded using Rando's model of complicated mourning.

Main findings

Findings revealed an informal social …

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  • Source of funding: no external funding.

  • For correspondence: Dr C Malacrida, University of Alberta, Department of Sociology, 5–21 H M Tory Building, Edmonton, AB T6G 2H4, Canada. Fax +1 780 492 7196.