Memorial objects, memorial creating actions and the parental identiy - a study in sociology of religion of parents whose children died perinatally

Project: Research

Layman's description

To lose a newborn baby, is to lose someone whose life you never shared. The mourning rites parents are performing become various ways to create memories and to maintain a relationship with the child. This project studies memorialization at home, at the cemetery and other locations, and memorial sites on the Internet. Memorial rites are also studied in relation to parental identity.

To memorialize a stillborn child or an infant who died close to birth is to memorialize someone you never shared life with. In addition to the memories that the parents received at the delivery, many memories are rather expectations for the future. This means that memories can be created continuously. The situation is adressing not only existential questions about the child's life, but also issues of parental identity. Are you a parent when your child never lived? In recent years the term angel parent is used by these parents to mark the parental identity.

Ritualisering after a death is both official and private. This study focuses on informal and unofficial rites in the home, the cemetery and other memorial sites. Do parents have a memorial table at home, what have they have on it and what do they do there? How do parents mark the anniversary? Do parents have any contact with the child?

In recent years the memorial pages on the Internet have become more common. What is on them, and what kind of function do they have for the parents?

In addition to interviews and studies of websites, a survey has been carried out together with Professor Ingela Rådestad and Spädbarnsfonden. More than 1,000 mothers and 160 fathers answered questions about their child's birth and how they memorialize their children today.
Effective start/end date2007/01/012011/12/31