Search graduate:

Helen Susan Selirand

  • Faculty of Design
  • Design and Technology Futures
  • msc
  • Societally Invisible Loss: Designing for Inclusiveness and Individual Experience in Stillbirth
  • Tutor(s): Ruth-Helene Melioranski

2.6 million babies are stillborn worldwide every year.

Stillbirth is a loss of which the impact is misjudged as influencing only the bereaved parents and mostly the mother. Consequentially the experience has received insufficient attention in society and by the state.

While stillbirth is often seen and dealt with as the mother’s loss, both of the parents, along with the social support network, are strongly influenced by the experience. The negative emotions deriving from the loss can lead to long-term mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Emotional resilience and the availability of strong social support are key to minimising the long-term outcomes for the families.

The proposed concept aims to lessen the unnecessary bureaucracy families need to endure, enable structure in proceedings and clear information, support individual grief and empower the social support network and the society at large to lessen the isolation of the bereaved family.

The design concept I offer is a multilevel interconnected platform integrated into the state service system. It allows the bereaved families to manage the loss and their experience in a manner that is most suited for them choosing their own points of interaction with the platform that support them in the ways they most require.

In state proceedings, the bereaved parents are supported by structured, personalised information about the event customised to their preferred tone of voice, and proactive support in managing proceedings. The bereaved parents can give and control the level of access to the platform to their social circle to keep them informed and with that announce their needs in support to them without extra burden. The bereaved family can have support from a trusted person in the proceedings by giving them a mandate to act on their behalf.

The lack of memories complicates grief for a stillbirth, only the parents have their dreams and hopes from the period of pregnancy and the brief moments spent with the child. The Memento layer of the concept enables support in grief for relating to the loss and strengthening the connection with the memories allowing for each individual to build their own unique experience.

The community level of the platform, Stories, enables the bereaved families to feel understood and less alone but also supported through a variety of shared experiences among the community. It also gives the community a voice outwards, supporting the broader audience with information on how to best support the families who have gone through stillbirth.

See the case study at