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Fathers’ relational experiences of stillbirth: Pre-natal attachment, loss and continuing bonds through use of objects

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>16/03/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date16/03/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This study aimed to investigate fathers’ lived experiences of stillbirth through the lens of continuing bonds and use of objects. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six fathers who had experienced stillbirth from 20 weeks gestation. Interpretative phenomenological analysis revealed five themes: loss and continued bonds in a mother-mediated dynamic, objects as manifestations of relational and meaningful memories, exerting existence and continued connection to others, continued bond through physical presence and evolving expressions of love and fatherhood. Findings offer a novel understanding of the relationship between objects and continued bonds, where objects are seen to facilitate this bond through varying means, including physical manifestation of the deceased and representation of the father-infant relationship. The study places importance on fathers’ involvement in creating objects permeated with meaning and memories, and of validating fathers’ experiences of loss rather than considering these men merely as partners of a mother who lost their own baby.