Empty Cradle, Broken Heart Book Review

This is one of the best books out there on pregnancy/infant loss. It covers the spectrum of issues including difficult decisions and subsequent pregnancy. Dr. Davis is a bereaved parent herself with extensive experience working with grieving families. Her heart and her expertise is in this book. It’s definitely worth your time and your money.

For me reading this book was a big comfort. Knowing I wasn’t alone on how I was feeling, let me know that I was normal. That there was no one way to grieve the death of your child.

The book is well organized in a way that you do not have to read the whole thing from beginning to end.  It is very easy to find a chapter or sub-section that deals with whatever issue you may be struggling with at the time.

Deborah validated my feelings of guilt, responsibility, being deprived of a future with our baby, social isolation, jealousy, depression, resentment, anger and on and on. Something that 3 years later I still struggle with.

“Your friends’ silence may lead you to believe that they don’t want to be burdened with your sorrow.  Instead, they may avoid talking about your baby because they think that will protect you from your despair and help you forget.”

It helped me realize that just because friends aren’t beating down my door to talk about Leia doesn’t mean they don’t actually care. That it might just be the opposite in fact.  That they are afraid that I will get upset remembering.  That for me, if the furthest thing from the truth. I want/need to talk about her.

Quotes from many parents are interspersed throughout the chapters. Even though each person’s experience and grief is of course unique, I found validation and support in their words.

It also includes chapters on physical recovery, trying again, parenting subsequent children, support networks and resolution of grief. I found this last to be reassuring.

“Resolution does not signal an end to grief. You will always feel longing and sadness.”

Although I am blessed with supportive family and friends, I always felt after a certain amount of time had passed, that I ought to be “over” my loss. This chapter helped me to understand that I won’t ever “get over” it. Part of my heart will always ache for our first born. Still, I have now reached a point where I was no longer,“obsessive” about the why’s. The chapter emphasizes that this is not a process with set parameters of time or rules of how you must feel.

There is a special chapter especially for fathers. It talks about the social expectations that are placed on fathers and their grief. This chapter touches on many key points that could be helpful in a father coping with grief and his emotions.

Not only is this book great for parents, but doctors and nurses could also benefit from reading it. Many hospitals do not give input or advice as to making decisions. This is so important as I know too many parents who have walked away from the hospital without photos or memories of their baby. Even if a friend or family member wants to read this book, let them. The more insight they have the more they will understand your grief.

Most importantly, parents facing the death of a baby will find necessary support in this gentle guide. If reading this book moves you to cry, try to accept this reaction. Your tears merge with those of other grieving parents.

By: Angie Williams