What do you call a parent whose child has died? There are many kinds of grief that don't earn a title. In English, we really only have words for someone whose spouse has died--widow or widower--or a child whose parents have died--orphan. There is nothing to call a person who has lost a sibling, or who has had multiple pregnancy losses without live children.
There are several wonderful essays and articles on the Internet considering just this topic. Just recently, the New York Times rounded up a few on their parenting blog. Notably, writer Lisa Belkin referred to an essay written by Karla FC Holloway for the Hospice Foundation of America. Holloway is a professor of english and law at Duke University.
In her beautiful essay, Holloway describes the unnatural feeling of being a parent whose child has died. She turns to Sanskrit, the language which gave us the word "widow" (meaning "empty") in the hopes of finding another word that might work as a name. Holloway suggests "vilomah" which means "against natural order" as a term for a grieving parent.
Have you found a word or phrase that describes your own role as the mother or father of a baby who has died? Do you have any suggested words for other kinds of grief? What are some types of loss that go without a name?
What do you think of the word "vilomah"?
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