Objective: To describe the experience of parents surrounding the death of a newborn weighing less than 500 g at birth.
Design: Descriptive, using an eidetic phenomenologic approach.
Setting: Interviews were conducted in the parents' homes or by telephone between 4 and 15 weeks after the loss.
Participants: Eight parents (five mothers and three of their husbands) who had experienced the death of a newborn weighing less than 500 g at birth.
Main outcome measures: The lived parental experience of the death of a newborn consists of a number of parental processes, responses, and activities that occur over time.
Results: Five themes were generated from the data: (a) realization that the loss is occurring; (b) initial response to the loss; (c) decision making at the time of the loss; (d) components of supportive relationships with others; and (e) the adjustment at home.
Conclusions: The findings demonstrate the unique experience of having a newborn who is born at the margin of viability and support the need for individualized, caring-based interventions for parents.