I’m so sorry for your loss. With the loss of a pregnancy, the possibility of what could have been can seem to slip away. This is incredibly painful and hard to grapple with. Your baby is present to you from the moment you find out you are expecting, though he or she may seem “invisible” to the rest of the world. This can make the grieving process that much harder. You may feel like no one understands what you are going through, and you may be told “just get over it.” Everyone experiences grief differently; your journey is your own and may not look like anyone else’s.
As a certified bereavement doula through Stillbirthday, I have helped friends and clients through pregnancy and infant loss. I have also grieved my own first-trimester loss. Nothing can take away the pain of losing a child, but here are five things that may help you heal after losing a pregnancy:
Give yourself time.
If your pregnancy was planned or unplanned, if you are struggling through infertility or if you have living children, your experience and emotions are valid. You may feel angry; you may feel overwhelming sadness; you may feel both. It may be hard to be around others who are expecting. Remember, you don’t have to “just get over it.” You may never stop missing your baby, and that is okay. Do not let anyone or anything make you feel that you need to rush through the grieving process. Give yourself grace and time to heal.
Know that it’s not your fault.
You may feel that you have done something to cause the loss of your baby. You may feel as though your body has failed you. It can be difficult not to fall into the cycle of wondering what you could have done differently, but remember that a pregnancy loss is not your fault. It doesn’t make the loss any less painful, but remember that one in four women will experience miscarriage, and about half of those are caused by fetal chromosomal abnormalities. In many cases, there is no known cause and nothing that you could do to prevent it.
If you have a partner, accept that he or she may not grieve in the same way.
While you may have bonded with your baby very early on, your partner may not have experienced the same level of bonding. Try to understand that while your partner may grieve differently from you, he or she still deserves a grief process that is treated with sensitivity and respect. Lean on each other during this difficult time, and give each other grace.
Surround yourself with support.
You may want to shut out the world, and giving yourself space is okay. However, you may find that sharing your story helps you grieve and allows you to heal. It is okay to seek help from a professional, and that may be an important part of your grief journey. Surround yourself with people who support you. You may find people in your life who have also walked this path, and talking with them may help you feel less alone. Joining a support group for women who have experienced this kind of loss can provide you with a safe place to talk about your feelings with others who understand what you are going through. Do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Remember to take care of yourself.
This may be the last thing on your mind, but taking time to honor your experience and care for yourself can be very healing. Start journaling, grab coffee with a friend, treat yourself to a massage or pedicure. It is okay to focus on yourself and lean into what will help you navigate your grief and find healing. There is no one way to do this; do whatever feels right for you.
The loss of a pregnancy is devastating, and the emotions you experience can be difficult to navigate. Give yourself time to grieve. A loss in any trimester is still a loss. It is important to let yourself mourn that loss in a way that will help you heal. Trying to heal does not mean that you are forgetting your baby or negating your experience.
Many women find it helpful to name their baby or remember them in a tangible way. You can plant a tree, light a candle in remembrance, or have a special piece of jewelry made. If you need it, seek out support from a trained health care professional. Surround yourself with people who validate your grief and help you walk through this very difficult time. Nothing can take away the pain, but remember that you are strong, and you will survive this. Take it one day at a time.
Join us tonight, Monday, October 15, at 6:30 pm PDT, for a Facebook Live where we will be honoring Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month as one mama shares her own story of loss. We will be hosting a Wave of Light to remember the babies gone too soon. If you can’t make it, we’ll post the video so you can watch it at your convenience.