Let’s Give Parents Time Off to Mourn Child Loss-Let’s Update the FMLA!
Barry David Kluger

I also experienced the loss of a child. My daughter, Fiona, however, was lost in stillbirth. The grief from the loss of a child you know is unimaginable, but the grief from losing a baby who looks so perfect but for the lack of a heartbeat is absolute torture. Both my wife and I had no idea how to pick up the pieces when that happened. FMLA doesn’t account for stillbirth so we were not able to rely on any legal assistance from the government. Both of us are fortunate enough to work for flexible, compassionate organizations, but we’ve met several people who were not so lucky. The worst story that was told to us by a grieving mother who lost her baby to stillbirth was that she had to make the hard choice to return to work after only a few days for bereavement or lose her job. Stillbirth is uniquely excluded from FMLA since there is no paperwork that proves a baby was born, i.e. no birth certificate. Legally our babies never existed, but all of us grieving parents will tell you that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Extending FMLA for bereavement is a fantastic idea and I applaud you for making it happen. But if I had one wish, it would be for all of our children lost to stillbirth to be acknowledged as having been alive for the 9 months or less while we so joyfully planned for the future they never got to live. If it is at all possible to add children lost to stillbirth to the bereavement extension, I for one, and I’m sure anyone else unfortunate enough to grieve the loss of their babies, would very much appreciate it because to us, our children were still born.

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