Book explores trauma of infant, fetus loss

By Stacy Goldman

An NIU professor has published a book on the way in which families deal with the loss of a fetus or infant.

Laura Smart, an associate professor in the Human and Family Resources department, coauthored a recently published book titled “Coping with Infant or Fetal Loss—The Couple’s Healing Process.”

She said the purpose of the book is to study the way in which intact couples cope with the loss of an infant or fetus.

“It was a great experience writing this book,” Smart said. “I feel that this is a good device for physicians and nurses, who often are among the first persons a grieving couple encounter when a new life ends.”

She said each parent will experience a unique loss upon losing a child.

“Men and women need to handle the loss of a child differently,” Smart said.

Smart designed the questionnaire and was in charge of the collection of data used for the book.

She specifically focused on social support and gender roles that are involved in these instances. “Contrary to conventional wisdom, most marriages don’t break up after the loss of a child,” she said.

Smart said she and her coauthor, Kathleen Gilbert from Indiana University, have worked on this project since 1986.

Looking at the finished product was “very gratifying” to her, she said.

Smart, who has a Ph.D. in family studies, teaches family and child studies and courses dealing with the atypical family dealing with family stresses. This book is the second she has written.