Love, Listen and Learn: Grandmothers’ Experiences of Grief Following Their Child's Pregnancy Loss

Jane Lockton, Clemence Due, Melissa Oxlad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: In Australia, 15-20% of pregnancies result in miscarriage, and 0.69% in stillbirth. Pregnancy loss is a distressing experience for parents, with many turning to their own parents for support. Pregnancy loss has been identified as an ambiguous loss, leading to disenfranchised grief. However little research has been conducted regarding grandparents’ experiences following pregnancy loss. Much of what is known comes indirectly from family studies of grief and loss. This study aimed to explore grandparents’ experiences of loss and grief, following a child's pregnancy loss. Design: A grounded theory approach using a qualitative inductive thematic analysis research design was employed. Individual participant interviews provided the data for analysis which was conducted using a six-step approach. Methods: Interviews were conducted with 14 grandmothers. Interviews were semi-structured, with open-ended questions. Thematic Analysis was applied using Braun and Clarkes’ (2013) approach to analysis. Results: Five themes were identified: Pregnancy loss is a grief like no other, Excited anticipation - then nothing, Ambiguity following pregnancy loss exacerbates grief, Grief is isolating, Multiple losses, changed family relationships, and Ceremonies and mementoes: Tangible, with lasting benefits for grandparents. Conclusions: Early access to information and guidance, ongoing peer support with flexible delivery options, and involvement in memory making activities could reduce ambiguity and disenfranchisement. Increasing community education and participation in raising awareness was identified as a way for grandparents to honour their loss and support others. Further research could explore grandfathers’ experiences, the longer-term outcomes for grandparents and families, and the impact of support strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-407
Number of pages7
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • ambiguous loss
  • bereavement
  • disenfranchised grief
  • grandparents
  • pregnancy loss


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