7 Tips To Help Mothers Cope With Pregnancy Loss And Move Through Their Grief
The loss of any loved one is devastating. But, the loss of an unborn child is even more so. In an instant, a future’s worth of hopes and plans is gone and immediately everything an expectant mother has longed for has changed.
We talk openly about losing loved ones, but surprisingly we become silent, almost uncomfortable when discussing the loss of an unborn child. No matter how it occurs, when you experience pregnancy loss, you are consumed by intense feelings.
Many people who experience pregnancy loss don’t want to talk about it. They may feel uncomfortable with their grief, believing that it’s not valid, because they “didn’t know their baby” in the physical world. Another thing that happens is loved ones become awkward as they aren’t sure whether to ask questions or talk about the baby. When this happens, it can feel more comfortable for everyone if you act as if you are no longer grieving the loss.
Unfortunately, when you try to shut down your grief for fear of upsetting others, it can make you feel more anxious and sad. Which then causes you to become increasingly isolated and disconnected from others. Not only does this isolation and fear harm your relationships but it also leaves you feeling like you have no one to reach out to when you need comfort.
It is true that the loss of a child, no matter how old, is devastating. And this grief, if not dealt with, may lead to loss of relationships and increased isolation. However, by recognizing that there is no right way to move past a loss, you can begin the healing process and start to feel better. When you accept the pain that comes with your loss, it is entirely possible to start to embrace your circumstances, feel more positive, and connect again with others.
Trying to Bury Your Grief
As you move through your grief, your sadness may lead you to avoid people and social situations you once enjoyed. You may find yourself fearing what others will say to you with regards to your pregnancy loss. But by not addressing your grief, you will feel even more isolated.
This is also true if you are pregnant again or you’re trying to conceive after your recent loss. You may feel anxious about the new pregnancy or what people will think about you since you are already trying for another child. Yet, all this does is take away your joy and excitement about being pregnant.
Ditch The Sad And Anxious Feelings
Although you struggle with feeling sad and anxious, you have the potential to find a sense of healing and connection. Grief is not about overcoming the sadness, per-say, but more of embracing it and incorporating it as part of your truth.
When you begin the healing process, you will see improvements across all aspects of your life. You’ll have more confidence when it comes to who you are and your place in the world. And you’ll become better at asking for what you need and want. In the end, you’ll feel more hopeful about your future. You will have the ability to feel more connected to others and more like your old self.
7 Tips For Healing Grief Due To Pregnancy Loss
It’s true that you may be feeling sad and alone, but there is hope that you can move through this difficult time and feel more like yourself. The key to feeling more connected and more confident is to take the pressure off of quickly resolving your grief and embracing the healing process.
Here are seven things to keep in mind as you journey through your grief…
#1 Grief is Messy and Unpredictable.
The process of healing is not linear. You will have some ok days and some days when the grief knocks you over. Here at Postpartum Health & Harmony, we teach that there is no right way to grieve. We support you while you go through the steps in no particular order, and help you not feel alone as you do things that may seem out of character for you. We challenge you to give yourself permission to be human, as you are hurting. When you do this, you will be able to accept that you are doing the best that you can right now, and this is good enough.
#2 Grief is Something You Move Through.
One of the reasons you’re struggling with your sadness and fear is that you are uncomfortable with the changes grieving brings to your life. This makes sense, as grief has no timeline for when you should be “done” feeling broken hearted, especially with pregnancy loss.
Rather than trying to force yourself to feel better, try to remember that grief is a process. It is completely normal that you bonded with your pregnancy and with your baby. These are things you won’t forget, nor should anyone expect you to.
One thing we help clients with as they come to terms with this reality is that in healing, this loss becomes part of your story rather than feeling as if your life revolves around it. After clients remove the pressure off of “getting better” and are able to talk openly about their feelings, they often feel freer and more connected to the good things in their life.
#3 Pregnancy Loss is a Unique Type of Grief.
One of the reasons losing a baby is so unique and why the process of grief feels different is that you don’t have the memories of good times you shared or a long history like you would with a loved one who was here physically. You also have very few things, if any at all, that are tangible to remember your baby by. It makes complete sense that you are feeling distressed. And because pregnancy loss is so rarely talked about, you can end up feeling isolated and alone.
When clients seek therapy at Postpartum Health & Harmony they will begin to see their grief as real and legitimate. They also find a sense of normalcy and feel more understood and less alone.
#4 Your Loved Ones Want to Help
People don’t know what to do with this type of grief. And you might find that your loved ones often say awkward, cliché, or insensitive things to you in an effort to support you through your loss. What’s more, they may not handle grief well or only be able to tolerate so much emotion for a brief time. This can make you feel pressured to get through it or to put on the mask that you’re not grieving just to make others feel more at ease.
When couples come to PHH, we make it a point to help them understand the uniqueness of pregnancy loss grief so they can release the pressure to appear fine and move through the healing process at their own pace.
#5 You Will Be Triggered
There are many everyday things that can trigger your grief. These might include friends you were pregnant with giving birth, seeing other babies, or even pregnancy announcements. Though these are happy occurrences, it is acceptable for them to make you feel sad.
In session, clients of PHH work to understand their triggers and what to do when they come up. A typical response is to attempt to avoid them. However, together we strive to help clients accept them as part of their life story and to stop them from controlling their lives. Much of the work is to feel the feelings and then release the energy and move on. Just like any other part of grieving, the process happens at your own pace and with regard to what feels right to you at the time.
#6 Cope However You Need To
After you’ve suffered a loss, you may sleep more. Your body, mind, and heart are exhausted. Extra sleep can be exactly what you need, and detaching temporarily is normal. You might find it difficult to handle too many people/conversations/opinions all at once, and even one person might be too much right now. That’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up about moving at your own pace.
When clients schedule with Postpartum Health and Harmony, they learn to honor their feelings and needs in the now. Again, this is part of the healing process.
#7 Grief is Different for Everybody
You and your partner may grieve differently and that’s OK. It’s important to talk about it together and honor that you may both be in different places and experiencing the loss in other ways.
When you and your partner schedule a session with PHH, you will find yourselves in a safe and supportive place to discuss your loss and grieve in any way that is appropriate to you.
Your Next Steps
Pregnancy loss is incredibly devastating, and you may feel like you will be in pain forever. The truth is that the grief you experience is very unique, and your healing process is not linear. By honoring where you and your partner are, and not pressuring yourself to get over it quickly, you will find that over time the grief will be part of your story, not something that consumes you.
If you have any questions about pregnancy loss and grief, please reach out to Postpartum Health and Harmony and schedule your free initial phone consultation.
Click here to learn more about Postpartum Health & Harmony and how we can help you.