Our culture doesn’t “do grief” very well in general, and it’s especially challenging for anyone who hasn’t had a miscarriage to understand that deep level of sorrow, rage, and emotional dysregulation for someone who “never really knew their child.”
Get the Support You Need After a Miscarriage or Stillbirth
To complicate matters, amid the overwhelming sadness and ache you feel for your loss, your body is going through postpartum hormonal and physical reshuffling that makes it even more challenging.
Consider these support steps as a soft, cozy, homemade quilt you can wrap around you whenever you need them.
You are not alone
It feels like you are treading water solo in a vast ocean of your own tears. In fact, you have the unconditional love and support of millions of women in the United States and even more around the globe. According to WHO:
- Worldwide, 10-15% of women who know they are pregnant will miscarry.
A baby who dies before 28 weeks of pregnancy is referred to as a miscarriage, and babies who die at or after 28 weeks are stillbirths.
- Every year, nearly 2 million babies are stillborn.
- More than 80% of miscarriages happen within the first three months of pregnancy.
There are so many women who understand what you are going through and have walked the road you’re traveling. When you feel ready, finding a miscarriage or pregnancy loss support group in your area can be extremely helpful.
Provide go-to resources for others to educate themselves
It’s not your job to explain to others why you are hurting so much or help them understand what you are going through. There are plenty of resources out there they can use to educate themselves. Examples include this post and The American Pregnancy Association’s, What to Say to Someone Who Had a Miscarriage.
Allow yourself permission to feel the full-emotional spectrum
While people often speak about the “five stages of grief” (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), the actual experience of grief is far more complicated than that. Those five stages can happen any time of day, any day, and in any order – and they can last for months and years.
An article on miscarriageassociateion.org explains that after a miscarriage, “…whatever your circumstances, it is completely normal to feel any of the following:
- sad and tearful– perhaps suddenly bursting into tears without any obvious trigger
- shocked and confused– especially if there were no signs that anything was wrong
- numb– you don’t seem to have any feelings at all
- angry– at fate, at hospital staff, or at others’ pregnancy announcements
- jealous– especially when seeing other pregnant women and babies
- guilty – perhaps wondering if you might have caused the miscarriage (that’s very unlikely)
- empty– a physical sense of loss
- lonely– especially if others don’t understand
- panicky and out of control– feeling unable to cope with everyday life.”
You are also at high risk for depression and because your body experienced all of the hormonal and physical changes related to pregnancy, including postpartum depression.
Give yourself permission and lots of space and time to express all of those emotions fully. The more you let that energy out, the more you will experience acceptance in whatever way that is for you.
Work with a therapist specializing in grief (preferably miscarriage)
We highly recommend looking for a licensed therapist who specializes in grief. Even better is finding one that has experience with pregnancy loss. You can set up appointments as often or infrequently as you like. For example, you may start once per week or every other week and then make appointments on an “as needed” basis. Either way, you’ll be working with someone who can give you tools, resources, and the space to help with whatever feelings are present for you.
Rewrite your reproductive story
Your original reproductives story probably looked something like, “Meet life partner, decide when to get pregnant, get pregnant, have baby.” Now, it doesn’t look like that anymore. That contributes to scary feelings of being out of control or that your plans and story aren’t something you can trust anymore.
When you rewrite your reproductive story on paper – or your computer – you become the narrator again. With the experience(s) you’ve been through, you have the empowered ability to create a new narrative that has a bigger-picture ending – that may include trying again for your Rainbow Baby or opting to adopt. Perhaps it’s time to begin working with a fertility specialist or to take a break from trying to get pregnant altogether. In any case, it helps you work through your feelings and reclaim a sense of control over your day-to-day experience again.
The hearts of the Overlake team go out to you. We have supported thousands of patients through their miscarriage and beyond, and some of us have our own experiences with pregnancy loss. Please feel free to contact us if you need additional support. (425) 454-3366.