Metaphors in communication about pregnancy loss

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  • Coventry University


Pregnancy loss, encompassing miscarriage, stillbirth and termination for foetal abnormality, can be considered a particularly intense and unique form of bereavement, which engenders difficult or painful emotions. When people are talking about such emotions, they have been found to make extensive use of metaphor (Semino, 2011). In this paper, we use metaphor analysis of a small corpus of interviews with individuals in England who have suffered such losses, and people who support them, to explore the nature of the bereavement. In particular, we focus on the ways in which metaphor is used to describe the experience of the loss, the effects that this loss has on people’s conceptions of themselves and their bodies, and the implications this has for recovery. We identify a number of characteristics can lead the bereaved to conceptualise their realities in different ways, which has implications for the grieving process, the ways in which people respond to their grief, and ultimately their recovery.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45–74
Number of pages30
JournalMetaphor and the Social World
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • metaphor, pregnancy loss, bereavement, emotion, the body