Pregnancy loss is devastating and sadly, very common. Those in fertility treatment may have experienced multiple losses. This is a difficult and painful experience and one should not try to cope on their own. In honor of Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month in October, I am offering help and guidance to those who are trying to heal.
It is common to feel sadness, anger, feelings of unfairness and resentment towards those that have children or are pregnant. These feelings can in turn create guilt and shame to women and couples who are hurting and don’t want to feel this way.
It is also common to feel sad and lack energy, and to have no interest in social gatherings, particularly if events involve children. If you are experiencing this, your feelings are completely normal.
Pregnancy loss can be particularly difficult because sometimes it is a hidden loss. Not many people knew about the pregnancy so the woman or the couple would not receive the comfort they otherwise would if people knew. Those who have never experienced a miscarriage often do not know how physically and emotionally painful a miscarriage can be.
- Understand that it’s not your fault. Pregnancy loss or complications can strike anyone. Talk openly and honestly with your partner about what’s happened and how it’s affecting you. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to deal with grief. Accept your feelings as they are and don’t judge yourself or your partner for how you respond.
- Give yourself time to heal. Don’t pressure yourself to get past the sadness quickly. Your healing will be more complete if you deal with your grief as it comes. You may find yourself reliving the pain, especially around your due date or other milestones. Over time, things will change and you’ll feel better.
- Take time off from work. Even if you feel physically fine, taking some time away from your job may be helpful. You need a chance to process what’s happened, and taking a break from your regular routine will help you acknowledge and accept all that you’re going through.
- Don’t expect your partner to grieve in the same way. If your partner doesn’t seem to be affected by the loss as deeply as you are, understand that men and women grieve differently.
- Don’t close yourself off from others. Although it may seem painful to talk about, sharing your story will allow you to feel less alone and help you heal. You may be surprised by how many of your co-workers, cousins, neighbors, and friends have their own stories of loss and healing. And you may find understanding and support from unexpected people — which can help make up for the fact that some people you expected to understand don’t seem to get how much you’re hurting.
- Take it slow. Some days will be better than others. If you’re overwhelmed thinking about the future, focus on getting through one day at a time. If you can, wait to make major decisions, such as buying a home or changing jobs.
- Take care of yourself. Get adequate rest, eat a healthy diet and include physical activity in your daily routine. Don’t turn to tobacco or alcohol to soothe your pain.
- Set some rules. It can be difficult for your friends and family to know whether you feel comfortable hearing about other women’s pregnancies and pregnancy losses. To help yourself and those around you feel better and more at ease, make it clear which topics, if any, are off limits with you.
- Remember. Sometimes it helps to memorialize your baby in a manner that is meaningful to you. Some women like to keep a pendant, others may plant a tree or special garden. Finding a special way to commemorate your baby can turn a negative situation into a positive one, helping you to let go of your grief. Sometimes a ritual to say good-bye can help as well.
- Write it Down. Journal writing is an excellent method for people to air out their emotions. Because a journal is private, you can be honest with yourself and your thought:
s, allowing yourself to reflect on just what it is that you are feeling. Furthermore, studies have found that writing in a journal can actually speed up the recovery period during sad times.
Want to support someone who has experienced a loss? Here are some helpful tips
- Ask them what they need. (A warm meal, some company or a walk can do wonders)
Tell them you are sorry for their loss.
Tell them you are there to support them however they need.
Don’t pressure them to feel better or differently about the situation.
Don’t tell them “it’s for the better..the baby would not have been normal.”
For anyone on their journey to parenthood, I hope that you are able to find the support you need as you move through this painful experience. I talk to many women and couples about this topic – don’t be afraid to get help if you are struggling. If you’d like to learn more about our support resources, click here to view our latest events.
“The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only “I’m sorry for your loss.” But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?” – Laura Bush
Dr. Ariadna Cymet Lanski is a clinical psychologist who she specializes in reproductive health issues at Fertility Centers of Illinois.