Speaker: Jade Qiong Zheng
Facilitator: Jane Houston
Stillbirth is a unique phenomenon with various manifestations influenced by culture and spirituality. Different cultural and religious beliefs may influence the emotional response to perinatal grief as well as the demand for bereavement care. The majority existing research on perinatal grief comes from Western society. Under Chinese cultural context, post-stillbirth grief healing for bereaved mothers is not applicable.
Objective: This study investigated the role of culture and spirituality in the grief healing of mothers with stillbirth in China.
Methods: The study was grounded in an interpretivist constructionist epistemology. In-depth interviews with mothers suffering stillbirth within the previous year were used in a qualitative study. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data.
Findings: 28 women were interviewed by trained interviewers. Three key themes were identified: 1. The impact of culture on grief expression with four sub-themes: Restrained expressions of grief, Unattainable mourning ceremony, Hospital policy as a barrier, and Others-oriented grief; 2. Cultural characteristics of post-stillbirth experiences with four sub-themes: The paternalistic medical culture, “KongYuezi”, The embarrassment of postpartum visiting， and Cultural taboos on dealing with deceased babies remains; 3.Significance in cultural and spiritual healing behaviour with four sub-themes: Finding the meaning of the event, Accepting and Reconciling with the event, Reshaping beliefs and worldviews of life and death, and Gaining and self-growth.
Conclusion: Culture and spirituality play an important role in bereaved mothers’ post-stillbirth grief healing. Caregivers should avoid preconceived notions about grief. A bereavement care guideline that is culturally and spiritually appropriate for China is required.