Easing the pain of death before birth

Led by Dr Danielle Fuller, of the Department of English Literature, this interdisciplinary project, combining aspects of socio-legal studies, cultural studies, and linguistics, is focusing on people in England who have experienced miscarriage, termination for fetal anomaly, and stillbirth.

It is examining how they reach decisions concerning what happens to their baby after death, how their perceptions of the law impact on their decision-making, and how they communicate their experiences and choices to those there to support them. 

The project is also examining existing guidance on what happens to babies after they have died, investigating how professionals interpret it in practice and the extent to which it takes account of the views, experiences and needs of the bereaved.

From a linguistic standpoint, this project is paying careful attention not just to what the bereaved and those who support them say, but how they use words and actions, particularly the use of figurative language, to express complex and difficult emotions.

The reports and articles that arise from the project will contribute to the training of support workers and will inform and improve government policy, including revisions to the Human Tissue Authority’s guidelines, and pave the way to improved care pathways for people who have faced pregnancy and baby loss.

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