Dilemmas experienced by couples who have miscarried and strategies to enhance resilience

Rebekah G Pastor, Purdue University


For many, the thought of pregnancy evokes happiness and eager anticipation. However, for others, the excitement of pregnancy is eclipsed by the painful reminder of irreplaceable loss. This loss is due to miscarriage. It is reported that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, or the natural and spontaneous loss of the fetus before it is considered viable. Despite the fact that this is a common occurrence, societal misconceptions hinder couples from receiving the support they want or need. Social networks sometimes fail to acknowledge miscarriage as a form of bereavement or do not know how to provide comfort. Couples are left with complicated uncertainty and a lack of closure surrounding their ambiguous loss. The ambiguity, uncertainty, and lack of perceived support can lead to questions about identity and salient identity differences. While much is known about effective and comforting forms of supportive communication, couples often do not receive this type of support after their miscarriage. In hopes of better understanding why this occurs, this study examines the experience of miscarriage from the perspective of intergroup literature and the normative theory of social support. Specifically, the study analyzes interviews with 25 individuals (16 women and 9 men) to gain deeper comprehension of social identities, intrapersonal and interpersonal dilemmas, and strategies used to manage dilemmas in this context. Findings from the study contribute theoretically by drawing a connection between intergroup theories and the normative theory of social support. Furthermore the study points to future directions for connecting these frameworks to literature on resilience as a way to better understand the miscarriage experience, increase social support for couples who have miscarried, and enhance coping. Such work would have theoretical and practical benefits for society.




Wilson, Purdue University.

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