If you have followed the entire series then you know all the stages of grief I experienced when I had my stillborn and miscarriages. Pregnancy loss is one of the most devasting of losses. The hours, days, weeks, months after a loss can be one of the most difficult times. Its normal to feel shock, depression, anger, denial, and even guilt.
One of the hardest things was having to tell our friends or family if it was a miscarriage or the looks of sorrow I saw when they offered condolences on our stillborn. Even the most concerned responses were hard for me to handle.
It was an almost vital thing that I constantly had to and sometimes still remind myself that however I am feeling it is ok. Many well-meaning people would offer me their input. I know they meant well but sometimes I just did not want to feel happy. Whatever feeling you are feeling it is ok and it is your own grief process. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or like you should be healing faster or slower.
The important thing to do is acknowledge those feelings and take steps toward processing your loss and healing your pain. It will never be ok or something that you will forget but it will become easier to accept. It’s been years since I went thru my devastations and I can go weeks and months without thinking about it but then something will hit and I’m back at the sad moment. But I have noticed it is easier for me to remember the good times and move past the moment.
How to Function Initially
- Remember it is not your fault: I blamed myself and the guilt almost destroyed me. I was able to process and understand later it was not my fault. Try talking to your partner or someone you trust and understand it is not your fault.
- Give yourself time to grieve: Losing a child is devastating. Take all the time you need to process your feelings. Do not pressure yourself to heal faster. Remember feelings will hit you at different times and in different circumstances. Accept this and take the time you need to be able to handle it. It will never be ok in the sense that its no big deal but you will learn to adjust and accept.
- Accept that everyone grieves differently: I remember being angry and thinking my husband did not care because I never saw him cry. He did not sit and stare like I was. He stayed home for a few days and then went back to work like life just went on. I felt myself starting to hate him. I actually got papers for divorce even tho I don’t believe in divorce I felt like how could I be married to someone who didn’t care our child was dead. Then one day I went in the bathroom as he was taking a shower. I heard noises and looked in the shower to find him curled in the shower in the fetal position crying this heartbreaking sobs. When he saw me he stopped immediately and told me how sorry he was that I had seen him like that. I didn’t understand why would he not want to share his pain with me. I ended up calling my mom and she told me to look at him really look and so I did. What I saw broke me. He had bags under his eyes and I could see his ribs. In my pain, I didn’t realize he had stopped eating. He was barely functioning. I was so concerned he wasn’t grieving like me I didn’t see he was broken. It hit me we were both hurting but we reacted to that hurt differently. If your partner is not responding how you feel they should remember they are hurting too but you will both respond to that pain in your own manner.
- Do not isolate yourself: Although your initial response may be to close yourself off I can tell you from personal experience don’t do this. This is the time you need your family and friends the most. You would be surprised how many people may have gone through the same thing. If you don’t talk you may miss out on help from the most unexpected sources. Keep in mind if someone has not gone thru this they may not know how to respond so try not to take it personally if they do or say the wrong thing.
How I helped myself heal
- Take a bath or a shower: When I was at my lowest I did not really care about my hygiene. One of the first steps to taking back myself was to take a bath or shower. It was symbolic of washing the sadness away.
- Start a Journal: Writing helped me immensely. I could express my feelings and if I didn’t want anyone to see them they didn’t have to. I also kept an art journal and would draw what I was thinking
- Scrapbooking: I lost my child but did not want to forget. I created a small memory scrapbook that helped me to hold those memories
- Therapy: Sometimes you can not get past a loss without professional help. It is ok to need help. Find a grief counselor that can help you process your feelings
- Talk to a trusted person: If professional help is not your desire a trusted friend or mentor can be helpful. While they don’t have academic insight they do know you. They can connect to you and be there for you. It helps to have that person you can talk to and share with. I know for me I love my husband but we were both grieving the same thing. I ended up reaching out to an older friend because while she was not grieving what I was grieving she had the wisdom to help me. She had lived a full life and experienced loss so was able to connect with how I felt.
- Get out: This doesn’t mean go out every day. It can be as simple as walking to check the mail or sitting outside in the backyard in the sun. My first step to getting out was to go next door to my friends. I wasn’t out out but I was out of my room and bed so that was good enough for a first step. Then I started taking bigger steps. I began going to the library or to grab a cup of coffee.
- Get a new look: This doesn’t mean reinvent yourself. My new look was I cut an inch of my hair and I got a manicure. It was mainly the point of getting out and taking care of myself
- Spend time with your significant other: My husband and I both started to heal more completely when we talked and spent time together. If you do not have a significant other spend time with a close friend. Someone who loves you.
- Talk about it: Don’t bottle your feelings in and don’t pretend the pregnancy did not exist. This doesn’t mean let it be the focus of all conversation but don’t be afraid to talk about it.
When someone losses a child or a loved one it takes time to heal. Everyone does this in their one way and at their own pace. If you are hurting or have a loved one who is I hope this series of articles I made helps in some small way. Don’t be afraid to seek help. If you need someone to talk to I’m not a therapist but I’m available to chat.
Where to Seek Help
Contact your PCP or OB/GYN for recommendations for child loss specific grief counselors or support groups. If you are still in the hospital ask the hospital social worker.
There are alot of online support groups. I am personally in a few on Facebook
Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss Support Group
Pregnancy Loss and Miscarriage Support Group
Recurrent Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss Support Group
Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss
There are more out there. These are just the ones I am a part of.