Coping With Grief After A Miscarriage
Despite how common miscarriages are, they are still a devastating loss to the person or couple experiencing them. Everyone will respond to them differently. Some people will feel the grief more acutely than others. People around you might offer platitudes like “You can always try for a baby again” without realizing that brushing the miscarriage aside might not be possible for you.
Still, it’s becoming more common and destigmatized to take time to grieve the loss of a pregnancy, even if the miscarriage happens only a few weeks in. Understand that there is no right or wrong reaction to your miscarriage. Everyone grieves in their own way, and their bodies respond differently as well.
Some emotional and physical reactions you might experience are:
Feelings of anger, shock, shame, and/or guilt
Fatigue and extreme tiredness
Loss of appetite
You’ll likely go through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. For some, these stages will pass by quickly. Others might linger in some stages for a long time. Keep in mind your hormones are also wildly fluctuating as a result of the pregnancy and its loss, so they’re also affecting your emotional state.
Recognize that you and your partner will experience this grief differently. Be sure to keep your lines of communication open and honest during this difficult time. Consider couples counseling to help you mediate conflicts that might come up. Try to face this loss as a team. Here are some tips for coping with your grief.
Don’t blame yourself (for the miscarriage or for your feelings)
Understand that you did nothing wrong. Miscarriages happen for many reasons, usually genetic abnormalities. Don’t try to rationalize it or tell yourself that if you had taken more prenatal vitamins or you hadn’t eaten a particular food, then you wouldn’t have miscarried.
Also, don’t try to push down your feelings. Allow yourself the space to feel grief, and don’t worry about whether what you’re feeling is right or wrong. Feeling devastated after a miscarriage, even for a long time, is normal and not shameful.
Recognize your triggers
In the weeks and months after a miscarriage, you may find situations with pregnancy, birth, and babies triggering anxiety in you. Pay attention to your reaction to a friend’s pregnancy announcement or to seeing baby pictures on social media. If these things distress you, do your best to avoid these situations. Practice mindfulness and focus on your emotional and sensory states.
Work on your emotional responses so you can be prepared for when your due date passes. That time might return you to your original feelings after the miscarriage, so it’s best to anticipate how you’ll be emotionally affected.
Give your loss closure
You might find that you and your partner would benefit from memorializing this loss in a physical way. If you were far enough along, you might want to have a burial. Other ways of memorializing are to plant a tree, engrave a piece of jewelry, hold a memorial ceremony with loved ones, or make a scrapbook. This kind of ritual can give your grief a physical finality that can help you move on.
Thinking about trying again? Know what’s right for you
Some couples will want to try for another baby right away, but some might feel triggered by the thought of experiencing another miscarriage. Know that many people have healthy pregnancies even after miscarriages. Talk with your doctor about when trying again would be right for you.
When to seek help
If you feel yourself sinking deeper into depression and struggling to move on, it’s best to speak to a professional. You may also find that your grief arrives much later, after you think you’re past the emotions. A therapist can help guide you through the stages of grief and work with you on developing positive coping skills.
To find out more about postpartum counseling and working through loss, please reach out to us.