Volume 6 (1) 2014 – Article
Shadow Grief: Exploring Bereaved Mothers’ Receptivity to Music Therapy Following Miscarriage or Stillbirth
Bereavement following miscarriage or stillbirth can be a traumatic experience. Each day in the United Kingdom seventeen babies die as a result of stillbirth or neonatal death while approximately one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. This particular type of loss differs from other forms of bereavement in that grief is for a life unlived. There are no shared experiences or memories. Shadow grief may linger for many years, yet despite recent improvements in health policy, bereaved parents are not always adequately supported in their grief. A literature review has revealed a dearth of music therapy in this area.
As a precursor to the implementation of clinical work, the main objectives of this qualitative feasibility study was to investigate the bereavement experiences of mothers who have suffered loss through stillbirth or miscarriage, and to consider their receptivity towards music therapy as a potential bereavement intervention. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with befrienders from an organisation supporting bereaved parents. Findings suggest there is scope for music therapy to support newly bereaved parents, those undergoing a subsequent pregnancy, for shadow grief with the long-ago bereaved, to interact with current support services and to facilitate the support and supervision needs of befrienders.
music therapy; miscarriage; stillbirth; bereavement; grief; parent; remembrance; support; qualitative
Margaret Broad joined the staff of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy in Scotland in 2010, on completion of her post-graduate training in music therapy at Queen Margaret University. Also a graduate of the former Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, she has extensive experience as a church musician and private teacher. Based in Tayside, her music therapy caseload encompasses work in palliative care and with children and adults with a range of learning difficulties, communication disorders, social and emotional behavioural difficulties.