Miscarriage is often a very lonely and confusing emotional experience. You may not have told others that you were pregnant and you may not want to explain the details of your miscarriage. This will limit the emotional support you would otherwise receive at a difficult time of your life.
If you have already shared with some people about your miscarriage, you may have found that many do not grasp the full extent of your loss. Some people downplay the significance of what happened. Most people will not realize that, along with your baby, you have lost your dreams and hopes of what this baby would have brought to you.
People do not recognize that their usual, well-meaning comments of “You’ll get pregnant again” or “It was only a miscarriage” or “It was probably for the best” will just increase your disappointment and sense of isolation.
You will find that some people will not approach the question at all or quickly change the topic if you bring it up. These people usually do not know what to say, and because they are afraid to say the wrong thing they would rather not say anything. Others feel uncomfortable around emotional pain and, therefore, may even distance themselves from you.
If you are having a particularly difficult time, seek counseling from a psychotherapist who specializes in working with parents who have experienced a perinatal loss. Talking to someone who fully understands your loss and is also familiar with the medical aspects of your miscarriage will bring you much relief.
Stillbirth, Neonatal And Infant Death
The death of a child is one of life’s most unfair and tragic experiences. The excruciating pain you are carrying is unspeakable.
Everybody deals with such a loss in his or her own unique way. Lives and circumstances are different, but everyone will go through a process of deep grieving. Most people find it helpful to understand about the symptoms of grief and the grieving process.
The experience of losing a child has changed you forever. You will not see the world the same way you did before your loss. But, after traveling a long road of hurt and healing, you will feel normalcy again, even if it does not seem possible at this time. It will be a different “normal”.
The road you have started on will lead you back to your sense of self again. Drive slowly, there is no timetable. Sharing this journey with others may bring you great comfort and a strong feeling of connectedness.
Many families who have lost a pregnancy or infant find solace by joining a support group where they can talk to others who have had similar losses. Others prefer to seek the help of a psychotherapist for professional counseling. Some couples choose to see a therapist together.
When mourning after a perinatal loss, it is important to seek help from a professional who has experience in grief counseling related to perinatal losses. This is a highly unique situation that requires a deep understanding of the childbearing cycle, as well, as knowledge of the specific medical interventions or illnesses that surround the loss.
Symptoms of Grief
Your grief reaction will be unique and different from that of others. The following are the most common reactions following the loss of a pregnancy or baby:
Feelings of loneliness and isolation
Guilt, blaming yourself
Difficulty concentrating or focusing your attention
Difficulty remembering information
Feelings of emotional numbness and emptiness
A sense of chaos, disorderliness
A sense of despair about your future
Difficulty formulating goals for the future
A frequent need to talk about the death and the details of what happened
The Grief Process
Each person goes through the grief process in a different way. You may take a longer or shorter period of time allowing yourself to feel the emotions of each stage. You might not experience all the feelings that others do.
Shock and Denial
At first it may be difficult for you to accept your miscarriage or the death of your baby. You may even deny it to yourself. This denial will gradually subside as you allow yourself to express your feelings.
During this stage you are angry at the unfairness of what happened and you may displace this anger onto others, such as your partner. If you turn the anger inward you will blame yourself and feel guilty. Be gentle and forgiving to yourself and you will be able to move away from these feelings.
You will feel intense sadness and a great sense of loss. You may not have the energy or feel like doing much, which can increase your feelings of loneliness. The more you are able to reach out and connect with others the easier it will be to endure the pain.
Acceptance and Hope
Acceptance does not mean forgetting. It means that you can deal with the reality of your situation. Slowly you will be able to look into the future with hope again.
Difficult Situations During Your Grieving
Seeing babies or young children
New babies in the family or among your acquaintances
Seeing or knowing pregnant and nursing mothers
Thoughtless comments, even if the person means well
(“So when are you going to have a baby?” or “You just
need to get pregnant again!”)
Family get-togethers, holidays
Doctors appointments with your ObGyn
Working through the grief process after your perinatal loss will help you face these situations more easily as time goes on.
Here are 11 suggestions to ease some of your feelings
Choose carefully whom you share with. Do not go to those for comfort who you know will not be able to give it to you.
If you are not ready to go to baby showers or to visit new babies, don’t. Tell them the truth if you think they can handle it. If you don’t think they can handle it tell them you have the flu.
Be straight forward with friends or family members whose style of consoling does not work for you. Thank them and tell them that it is too hard for you to hear what they have to say.
Remember that you and your partner will probably have different styles of grieving. Men, in general, are often more action oriented, while women tend to take more time to talk about their feelings. The two of you will work through your grief at a different pace. Be patient with each other.
Try to find sources of support other than your partner. The two of you may not always be emotionally available to each other.
Take extra good care of your body. Eat well, get plenty of rest and get exercise that is appropriate to your physical state.
Take time together with your partner. Make a point to schedule dates or outings.
Try to avoid making major decisions during your intense grieving time. Your mind is too clouded.
Keeping a box of mementos of your baby or your pregnancy can be very helpful in your healing process. Most parents find it comforting to keep photos, hospital records, ultrasound pictures and other memories.
Consider attending a support group. Sharing with and hearing from other couples who miscarried can make a big difference.
Seek professional counseling if your despair significantly affects your daily coping.
Grief is hard work and can be exhausting. Just be patient and good to yourself and healing will occur in time.
Your healing will not mean that you will forget. How could you? Healing means that you will incorporate this experience into your life and who you are.
Csilla Andor, MSW, LCSW, is a psychotherapist in Oregon who specializes in treating emotional difficulties related to the baby blues, pregnancy, the postpartum period, miscarriage, pregnancy loss, infant loss, infertility and adoption.
Csilla offers individual, couples, and family therapy in Corvallis and Eugene, Oregon. She provides phone sessions to clients living in the states of Oregon and California. She offers counseling/ psychotherapy sessions in clients’ home in Corvallis, Eugene, and in nearby communities, such as Albany, Sweet Home, Lebanon, Salem, Newport, etc.
Csilla is currently the Oregon Co-Coordinator of Postpartum Support International (PSI), a non-profit organization that provides support, education and advocacy related to prenatal or postpartum mood disorders. Through her volunteer work with PSI, Csilla provides free phone and email support to pregnant and postpartum mothers and their family members. She runs the free WellMama Pregnancy-Postpartum Stress Support Group in Eugene, OR, www.WellMama.net.
Csilla is a member of the Lane County Perinatal Mood Disorders Consortium in Eugene, and works with numerous healthcare professionals and agencies in Oregon to help improve mental health services to perinatal women and their families.