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‘Sunshine’, ‘angels’ and ‘rainbows’: Language developed by mothers bereaved by perinatal loss

Wheeler, Lucie; Fragkiadaki, Eva; Clarke, Victoria; DiCaccavo, Antonietta

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Lucie Wheeler

Eva Fragkiadaki
Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology

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Dr Victoria Clarke
Associate Professor in Qualitative & Critical Psychology

Toni Dicaccavo
Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology


Background A perinatal loss is a life-changing event that can have psychological consequences for a mother both after the loss and in a subsequent pregnancy. Aims This qualitative study aimed to examine mothers' lived experiences of the holistic journey of perinatal loss and subsequent pregnancy. Methods Qualitative data were collected via online surveys (n=40) and face-to-face semi-structured interviews (n=5), then analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Results Under the overarching theme ‘finding the words: language, labels and legitimate distress', three themes were developed that captured the ways in which participants used language to challenge societal silence and legitimise the personhood of their loss, while creating a community of support. Conclusions Midwives play a key role in women's experiences during the perinatal journey after a loss. The language used can either validate or be dismissive of distress. The researchers recommend midwives adopt labels developed by rather than for bereaved parents in order to provide empathic care.


Wheeler, L., Fragkiadaki, E., Clarke, V., & DiCaccavo, A. (2022). ‘Sunshine’, ‘angels’ and ‘rainbows’: Language developed by mothers bereaved by perinatal loss. British Journal of Midwifery, 30(7), 368-374.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 12, 2022
Online Publication Date Jun 28, 2022
Publication Date Jul 2, 2022
Deposit Date Jul 14, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 29, 2022
Journal British Journal of Midwifery
Print ISSN 0969-4900
Electronic ISSN 2052-4307
Publisher MA Healthcare
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 7
Pages 368-374
Keywords Maternity and Midwifery; Maternity; Midwifery; Miscarriage; Stillbirth; Grief; Midwives; Bereavement; Qualitative
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