Losing a child, suffering a miscarriage or having a stillborn baby is undoubtedly one of the most difficult things a person can go through in life. The stigma that surrounds discussing death and grief can also add to feelings of loneliness – which is why it makes such a difference to bereaved parents when celebrities and public figures speak out, says baby loss charity, Tommy's.
Equally, they're keen to stress, if you would prefer to grieve in private that is totally fine too; there's no right or wrong way to mourn. Each parent is unique and processes trauma differently. Tommy's midwifery manager, Kate Marsh, said, "Baby loss at any stage in pregnancy is one of the most devastating experiences that any family can go through – and it really can happen to any family, but persistent stigma means it’s rarely discussed despite affecting so many."
She adds, "It’s vital that we break the silence so that anyone who loses a baby knows: this may feel incredibly lonely, but you are not alone. Friends and family, doctors and midwives, all of us at support organisations like Tommy’s, we’re here."
Here are 17 well known names who've very sadly lost a baby and opened up about the experience publicly. If you're looking for support or more information about premature births, stillbirths or miscarriage, Tommy's have a free helpline 0800 0147 800 (open 9 - 5, Monday to Friday) and can be reached via email (email@example.com). There's also a Facebook group.
1) Chrissy Teigen
Mother-of-two Chrissy shared personal photos after losing her baby boy, Jack, due to pregnancy complications. She candidly spoke about her grief on social media, writing in an Instagram post, "We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn’t enough."
She continued, "We never decide on our babies’ names until the last possible moment after they’re born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever.
"We are so grateful for the life we have, for our wonderful babies Luna and Miles, for all the amazing things we’ve been able to experience. But everyday can’t be full of sunshine. On this darkest of days, we will grieve, we will cry our eyes out. But we will hug and love each other harder and get through it."
2) John Legend
Chrissy's husband, singer John Legend also spoke about his grief following the loss of little Jack. He shared his wife's post with the caption "We love you, Jack" followed by several heart emojis. Tommy's say, "More needs to be done to support fathers and partners [too]. It's important to remember that the physical aspect of miscarriage can be distressing for men as well – while they won't personally suffer the physical pain, many fathers feel frustrated, angry and powerless to help their partner."
3) Michelle Obama
In her memoir, Becoming, Michelle wrote about her experience of miscarriage: "I felt lost and alone, and I felt like I failed because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were, because we don’t talk about them. We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken. I think it’s the worst thing that we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work, and how they don’t work." The former First Lady went on to conceive two daughters, Sasha and Malia, with the help of IVF.
4) Malin Andersson
Love Island contestant Malin has been vocal about the loss of her daughter, Consy, on multiple occasions and is passionate about ending the stigma that surrounds grief. Her baby girl passed away at just four weeks old, having been born seven weeks prematurely and with a rare heart condition. "I’d carried a baby for seven months and then nothing," Malin told OK!. "I felt empty, I have a scar where my baby has been taken out of me but there is no baby. I am a mum without a baby. I couldn’t stop thinking, why me?"
She later wrote an open letter to Consy on Mother's Day: "Like me, I know there are other mothers facing darkness on Mothering Sunday. Women are out there feeling alone. I salute anyone that has lost their mother, or daughter. Just remember that you are never alone, someone else out there is going through exactly the same thing."
5) Lily Allen
Lily's son, George, was stillborn after six months of pregnancy. The talented singer emphasised the importance of good support during a conversation with Jonathan Ross. "I think it's difficult for anybody, actually what I took home from that experience was… Even though it was the most unfortunate thing that can ever happen to a person, I was very fortunate in the sense that I have a loving partner to go home to and share that experience with."
She added, "There are many women – 17 stillbirths happen in the UK everyday – that go home and they don't have that support, they have to go home and deal with that on their own."
6) Amanda Holden
The actress and talent show judge spoke candidly about losing her son Theo, when his heart stopped beating seven months into pregnancy. During an appearance on BBC's Dear NHS Superstars, Amanda said when she heard the news there was no heartbeat, she omitted a 'guttural scream'. "I had no control over myself, I thought it was another person making the noise." She continued, "All these women were holding me, calming me down. I forgot entirely that I'd have to get the baby out and I'd have to give birth for our son."
Amanda also shared that she decided to have a C-section, feeling unable to go through with labour. "I kept saying, 'I can't hold a dead baby', I was terrified... my husband Chris had to leave the room, he couldn't bear it. Jackie [my friend and midwife] wrapped him up and said, 'He's absolutely gorgeous, you need to see him.' That's when I held [Theo] even though he was fast asleep. The one thing I remember is his perfectly formed eyebrows, which all my children have." She later launched Theo's Hope, to raise money that'll go towards supporting other bereaved parents. "I had so many people to talk to, talking to somebody is absolutely paramount."
Opening up about the experience in her documentary, Life Is but a Dream, Beyoncé recalled how music helped with her grief. "About two years ago, I was pregnant for the first time. And I heard the heartbeat, which was the most beautiful music I ever heard in my life," she said, adding that at a later appointment the heartbeat could no longer traced. "I went into the studio and wrote the saddest song I’ve ever written in my life... It was the best form of therapy for me, because it was the saddest thing I’ve ever been through." She has since had three healthy children with husband Jay-Z – Blue Ivy, Rumi and Sir.
8) Kelly Brook
The model and radio show host went through the devastating loss of a baby girl, with rugby player Thom Evans, at five months pregnant. She later told Fabulous, "I tried to have a baby but it didn't work... You can feel quite a bit of failure if you go through miscarriage, but as much as it was a real loss and a difficult time, I got through it."
Kelly added, "I've sat down and asked myself: 'Do I really want to have children? Is this something I really want to do?' And I've realised it's not something I've always wanted and I'm fine with it. It's sad that it happened and obviously I wish it hadn't gone that way, but there is life after that."
9) Gary Barlow
Speaking about the time he spent with his stillborn daughter, Poppy, the Take That singer described the two hours as "amazing" and "incredible". Gary also shared something he wished others wouldn't say to bereaved parents, "People say things like, 'You've got three other kids' and people don't really understand your pain. It makes it more painful."
10) Keanu Reeves
The actor's former partner, Jennifer Syme, delivered their stillborn daughter Ava on Christmas Eve of 1999. A year later, after the couple had split, Jennifer was tragically killed in a car accident. Speaking to Parade magazine in 2006, Keanu said, "Grief changes shape, but it never ends. People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, 'It’s gone, and I’m better.' They’re wrong. When the people you love are gone, you're alone." He added, "I miss being a part of their lives and them being part of mine. I wonder what the present would be like if they were here – what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be."
11) Wendy Williams
American talk show host Wendy has sadly had multiple miscarriages, two at the five months mark. Speaking to ESSENCE, she said: "I fought tooth and nail to be a mother. I suffered several miscarriages including two at five months. That's when you have the clothes already picked out, the nursery is already painted. They ask you do you want a funeral or do you want the cremation. We went through that not once but twice, me and my husband. So our Kevin is a hard-won child."
12) Hilaria Baldwin
She and husband Alec lost their baby's heartbeat around the 16-week mark. "Some estimates say one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage. I had four babies and now a loss – I was the perfect statistic," Hilaria wrote in an essay for Glamour. "I felt like I was in shock. I went into this appointment excited to see her [my baby] and share pictures with my family and friends; I left needing to tell them all that she had died. It was a surreal turn of events. Even though I’d had a miscarriage before, I don’t think I could have fathomed how bad it could feel to have a miscarriage at 16 weeks."
After a mourning period, Hilaria writes that she found strength in her family and friends, "I knew that I needed to feel better. I needed to heal. I had to for my babies, my husband, my loved ones, and myself. When you feel so sad, you just want to crumble, and it is hard to be your own advocate – but you must be. I had to tell myself that I deserved to heal and to be happy again. This lesson became my mantra."
13) Gwyneth Paltrow
The actress, who shares two children, Moses and Apple, with Coldplay singer, Chris Martin, told the Daily Mail in 2013, "My children ask me to have a baby all the time... but I had a really bad experience when I was pregnant with my third. It didn’t work out, and I nearly died. So I am like, 'Are we good here or should we go back and try again?'"
14) Lacey Turner
Best known for playing Stacey Slater in Eastenders, Lacey was seven weeks pregnant when she had her first miscarriage. "In my gut I knew it wasn’t right," she said, during Channel 5 documentary Miscarriage: Our Story. "I went back to work the next day, carried on like nothing had happened, which actually makes me really sad now looking back. I was probably walking around feeling so heartbroken yet nobody would have had a clue."
15) James Van Der Beek
After his wife Kimberly Brook miscarried multiple times, Dawson's Creek star James spoke out on social media, "We need a new word for it. 'Mis-carriage' suggests fault for the mother— as if she dropped something, or failed to 'carry'. From what I’ve learned, in all but the most obvious, extreme cases, it has nothing to do with anything the mother did or didn’t do. So let’s wipe all blame off the table before we even start."
When Kimberly sadly lost another baby during pregnancy, James said on Instagram, "As many of you have said, 'There are no words...' and it’s true. Which is why in a time like this it’s enough to know that you’re there. Grieving and counting our blessings today."
16) Mariah Carey
She's since welcomed twins Moroccan and Monroe, with ex-husband Nick Cannon, but prior to that, Mariah experienced a miscarriage. Speaking about it, she said, "It kind of shook us both and took us into a place that was really dark and difficult. When that happened… I wasn’t able to even talk to anybody about it. That was not easy."
17) Nicole Kidman
During her marriage to Tom Cruise, Nicole lost a baby during the early stages of pregnancy. She and Tom then went on to adopt two children, Isabella and Connor, together. Nicole now has two other daughters, Sunday and Faith, with her second husband, Keith Urban. Speaking about her grief in Vanity Fair, Nicole said, "From the minute Tom and I were married, I wanted to have babies. And we lost a baby early on, so that was really very traumatic. And that’s when we would adopt Bella."
If you're looking for support or more information about premature births, stillbirths or miscarriage, Tommy's have a free helpline 0800 0147 800 (open 9 - 5, Monday to Friday). There's also a Facebook group.
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