Mothers, on the other hand, often feel that in order to understand what they were suffering they need to talk about it, to anyone willing to lend a listening ear. In a very powerful way it helps to order the jumble of thoughts that each bereaved parents has to juggle. It is impossible to think a million thoughts at once, but by only being able to say one thing at a time the grief becomes easier to rationalise. (I'm certainly not saying this is the case with all families, I should add, nor am I saying that there is a 'correct' way to grieve.)
For those who are being spoken to, the question of how to react is a difficult one. Some may feel so uncomfortable - even guilty - about a parent's loss that they gloss over it, or do not mention it at all. Others try to find the right words, but inadvertently say something helpful - or, at the very worst, foolish. Perhaps the answer is to say nothing at all, but instead just listen. And, if you do say something, your bravery in acknowledging such a terrible situation will be appreciated. The Guardian recently published a moving piece entitled 'Stillbirth: a pain left unspoken', which told the story of Emma Johnston's loss. In it, Emma talks about how the honest reactions of some proved very helpful:
Kitty Hagenbach, psychotherapist and co-founder of Babiesknow.com, echoes the importance of a support network: "Those around can help with sensitive, individualised support for as long as it takes to come to terms with the baby's death."
In Emma's experience, the first step for friends, family and colleagues is "to be brave; make the call, send a card". If you don't know what to say, Stewart suggests honesty is best. "Saying: 'I don't know what to say,' is enough. Parents can handle that."