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Keywords:

  • African Americans;
  • Parental grief;
  • Perinatal loss;
  • Phenomenological research

Objective: To examine the experience of low-income, African American parents surrounding perinatal loss and to describe how other life stressors influenced the parents’ responses and caring needs.

Design: Descriptive, using a phenomenologic approach.

Setting: All data were collected in person. Interviews were held in parents’ homes or, at the request of three parents, in an office in the university between 5 and 21 weeks after the loss.

Participants: A total of 23 parents (17 mothers and 6 of their partners) were interviewed after a perinatal loss (16 weeks gestation or later) or a neonatal death (first 28 days of life). Follow-up interviews were held with 21 of these parents.

Results: Four themes were revealed: (a) recognizing problems and responding to the loss, (b) dealing with stressful life events, (c) creating and cherishing memories of the baby, and (d) living with the loss.

Conclusions: The results of this study reveal experiences not previously reported and provide initial insight on the loss experience in this group of parents. Health care professionals should be aware of the presence of additional stressful events that parents may be experiencing and intervene appropriately to provide culturally competent care in a sensitive manner.