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Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  294 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Reassurance for parents who struggle with anger, guilt, and despair after a miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death.
ebook, 288 pages
Published February 13th 1996 by Fulcrum Publishing (first published 1991)
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Margaret Houston
This is the first book I read since my son died that really got it.

A few small bits are somewhat dated - for example, there are now online support groups and forums that weren't around in the early 90's, and, thankfully, people are more aware of the real losses that occur in miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death, and so are more sensitive. Doctors, family members, etc., are less likely these days to dismiss the loss, and hospitals are better at giving parents choices on whether to hold their
If Deborah Davis asked me, 'Am I right, or am I right?' I'd say, 'You're right, Ms. Davis'. A lot of what you'll encounter with a dead baby is in here, from the way your parents might take it to hating your body after delivery to what pregnancy following a loss is like. It's in there. The thing is, it's so DRY. It was hard to derive any emotional comfort this, which could've been swapped with my Toyota maintenance manual in tone. The quotes from loss parents pushed it in the right direction, but ...more
Shannon Wyss
One of the dearest people to me in all the world had her newborn die over the summer. I wanted to read “Empty Cradle, Broken Heart” to get a better idea of the hell that she’s going through.

It is an insightful, easy-to-read book. Deborah Davis includes heartbreaking, poignant, honest quotes from many mothers (and a few fathers) whose babies have died. And it encompasses everything from miscarriage up to those babies who die months after birth, as well as singletons and multiples. Davis takes the
Feb 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was given to me after the unexpected stillbirth of our third child. The friend who passed it on to me also experienced the stillbirth of a child. I was very devastated. I didn't think this book would offer me any advice or help. However, I read it because of my friend. I discovered how wrong I had been. This book brought back peace to my everyday life. It helped me look forward and have hope. I especially enjoyed reading the personal experiences from other couples who had lost children ...more
Jan 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this book however I wish it felt more with the emotional ups and downs and how to move on or become whole again. The why things happen and other informations about "what actually happened" was not what i wanted to read or expected to read at all. It lacked compassion and empathy. I would say read this years later if it has happened to you. If not your going to get pissed and irritated.
May 17, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Geared towards couples and discusses multiples and surviving twins. Wouldn't recommend for single mothers. Not sure if I'd recommend it for someone who didn't have multiples.
Great quotes from mothers and fathers with losses.
Leah K
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby by Deborah Davis


It is with a heavy heart that I had to read such a book to begin with and I can only hope that it is something that you will never have to read yourself.

I received this book at the hospital from a wonderful non-profit foundation that serves part of Colorado called A Walk to Remember. It took me some time to look at the book, let alone read it – but I am glad I did. The loss of my son at nearly 23 weeks of pregnancy
Jan 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
I hate that this book even needs to be read. This is a club that no one ever wants to be a part of. I had a stillborn son at 39 weeks with no pregnancy complications whatsoever. This book was gifted to me by a local organization called Books from Bennett.

It is the first grief book that I have ever read. I agree with a previous reviewer that the book is very dry. I found myself having to re-read parts because my mind would wander off. Obviously, my mind is still reeling from our loss, but I still
Kelly Shrady
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was given this book by my obgyn after our son was stillborn at 20 weeks. It has helped me in my grieving process.

There is a section for women who aborted their babies after receiving a diagnosis of certain conditions such as Down Syndrome. I found this to be offensive as those women CHOSE to abort their baby by inducing a miscarriage, rather than it happening by chance, where a mother has no choice in the matter.
Erin Jones
Mar 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents who've lost a child
Shelves: non-fiction
this book was recommended to me by a few people. It is a good book - for someone who has lost a baby later in pregnancy or in infanthood.

I do not think this book was helpful to women suffering from a devastating, but early (< 12 wk), miscarriage. There wasn't a whole chapter on miscarriage, everything came back to actual babies. This isn't where we're at. I wish they had gone over more about miscarriages, instead of glazing over it.

What I did think was helpful: The chapter on uterine healing
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all the books I've read on the subject of baby loss, this is the best. I lost my son at 5 months pregnant on November 5, 2012. I really struggled (and still do) with all the emotions that come with grief. No one I knew had lost a baby, so I really felt alone. I wondered if my feelings were normal or if I was going insane. This book was recommended to me by a woman in a non-profit organization who's sole purpose is to help grieving families.

Everything I read in this book was basically describ
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better books I've read since the stillbirth of my son. I particularly appreciated the quotes from other parents. The words I'm thinking but am too afraid to say out loud ... or I have actually said them out loud and been brutally reprimanded by women who have never lost a child and have no idea what it is like.

It's sort of like a What to Expect book for loss. In fact, I wish much of this content were included in What to Expect When You're Expecting since many pregnancies do end in los
Lyndsey Heng
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was timely and helped me through the loss of our daughter (stillborn at 21 weeks). It has a good balance of stories from other parents and advice and allows you to be who you are and grieve how you need to without imposing a bunch of "should" and "should not"s. I would recommend this book to anyone who has lost a child later in pregnancy or early in infant-hood - if anything can help, this will.
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My friend recently lost a baby, and I really did not want to stick my foot in my mouth, so I picked this up from the library. Short version: grief is individualized, but the most painful part is not having it recognized as real and lingering pain, and support both family/friends and professional is vital. It was interesting. I thought the chapter on trying again was a little harrowing. All in all, I would recommend it.
Chrissy DeVore
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very helpful book on a very sad topic. As others have said, it could use a little updating but even with that taken in account, it was far more useful than others I have read. I was very relieved not to be pressured into believing that "everything happens for a reason." Even if you personally believe that, it can be detrimental to the grieving process. I hope I don't have to recommend this book to anyone in the future, but I would if they faced an infant loss.
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2013
This book was very well organized with bulleted lists of key points at the end of every chapter. Unlike "Empty Arms" by Ilse, this one didn't make me feel bad about things I did or didn't do for my 39-week stillborn daughter. The quotes from mothers were also very helpful; I saw my own thoughts echoed many times. It might've been nice to include more non-mother (dad, grandparent) quotes, but it was still an excellent book I wish no one had to read.
Deanna Roy
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Davis' clear-eyed and sympathetic book is my highest recommendation for parents facing this devastating loss. She will take you through the grieving process, provide encouragement, facts, and stories to make you feel less alone and capable of mucking through those first terrible weeks.

I was lucky that this was one of the first books I found after we lost our baby at 20 weeks gestation. And after reading dozens more titles to review over the years, it's still one of the best.

Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book for anyone who has lost a precious baby at any stage. It guides you through the whole process of loss, not only covers grieving, but also physical and emotional recovery, and the decisions you have to make under these so sad circumstances. You are not alone. Losing a baby is one of the most painful experiences in life, and grieving your angel is a long process that you have to live through intensely to be able to recover at some point in your life.
Michael Melilli
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're someone whose lost a baby ( be it your own or one belonging to someone close to you) I'd highly recommend reading this book. It covers almost all aspects of a tragedy like this and how to deal with. Even better, it includes quotes and thoughts from other parents who have lost babies that helps remind you you're not alone in this and that you're not crazy for what you're thinking.
Jolene Haack
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 125-2012
Confession: I didn't finish this book. But I am counting it as read. Here's why: It was an invaluable resource and genuinely helped me understand the tragedy of a loved one.

Here is why I didn't finish it: Too many people around me are experiencing the joy of pregnancy and I couldn't continue this because it filled me with terror. But it was brilliantly written and an amazing resource.
Jan 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be very helpful while dealing with a miscarriage. Parts of the book were more helpful than others but for the most part, very helpful in explaining the many emotions and feelings that come with losing a baby. This is a book to read if you've ever had a miscarriage or lost a baby or if you've known someone who's gone through such a devastating experience.
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is geared toward the perinatal loss community, however, had sections that were valuable to me. I was given this book by hospital staff when my 7 month old son was taken to the hospital and arrived unresponsive. There are sections that talk about reactions to infant loss that held true for me even though I did have the opportunity to get to briefly know my son.
Oct 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was helpful for affirming the importance of grieving and feeling one's emotions after loss.

Two disappointments, there seemed to be a strong emphasis on how to parent living children. Or maybe I'm just over sensitive to not having a living child...

And I hate the use of the phrase "pregnancy interruption." Guard your heart if you feel similarly.
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have to read this book then I am sorry for your loss.
This book was recommended to me after we lost our son. To be honest I didn't think anyone could understand the pain I was going through, but this book does and is quite helpful. The excerpts are from people who too have dealt with the pain I deal and will deal with.

Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Empty cradle broken heart is the perfect resource for anyone who has experienced a late pregnancy or early infancy loss. The book tells it like it is, often in the words of those who have lived through a loss, and offers some coping strategies. Most importantly, I felt reassured that the feelings I am/was experiencing are not only normal, but a healthy part of the grieving process.
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was essential in helping me cope after I lost my twin boys. I will probably read it a few times. One of the best books on child loss that I have read (and I have read many). After I had my boys, I grabbed every book I could find on the child loss to help me. I highly recommend this book if you are dealing with the loss of a child.
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book was my survival manual after my baby died. the tone is so genuine. i love how she includes the grieving of both parents and how she sensitively covers just about every way you can lose a baby. perfect for those who have lost a baby or people who want to help those who have lost a baby.
Ginna Rinkov
Aug 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book offers so much insight into what parents go through when they lose a child. When I read this book, I realized I wasn't alone in my feelings. It also was a guide as to what I might feel in the future and provided some really important thoughts on how to cope with the pain.
Lynette Myers
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am sad that I have to read this book, but recommend it for anyone facing any infant loss.

So far this book is helping me realize that I am not off on how I am feeling and that I just need to be careful to not suppress things or I can cause myself a lot more heartache. Jesus will help me.
One of the better books I read after losing our son. It has so many helpful suggestions for friends and family too to help someone who is grieving. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has lost a baby.
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