Emotional Aftermath of Miscarriage
Coping with your feelings and with other people’s reactions.
From: American Baby
Having a miscarriage is a physically and emotionally difficult experience under any circumstance. But if you’ve been struggling with infertility or have had one or more miscarriages in the past, the loss can feel especially painful. Though time and comfort are often the best healers, it helps sometimes to understand the grief and mourning process that can accompany a miscarriage, and to know what you can do to start coping with your loss. Here’s how to begin.
Many women form an attachment to their baby early on in the pregnancy, particularly if they’ve been trying to conceive for some time. So after a miscarriage, they’re likely to go through a period of mourning and possibly experience the same stages of grief that can accompany the death of a loved one. The stages are:
- Denial (a refusal to believe what has happened).
- Anger (blaming yourself or others for the loss).
- Bargaining (striking a deal with yourself or God to have things return to the way they were).
- Depression (feeling listless, tired, despondent, guilty, punished, and/or as if there’s no pleasure or joy in life).
- Acceptance (realizing that life has to go on, and regaining your energy and goals for the future).
The Mourning Period
Grief and mourning can last anywhere from less than a month to a year or more, depending on the circumstances of the miscarriage. Initially, the feelings are intense and all-encompassing. But over time, they begin to ease up, giving way to periods of relative calm, well-being, and, eventually, acceptance.
During the mourning period, however, You may feel any or all of the following:
- Guilty: try to bear in mind that many miscarriages happen for no reason. It is very unlikely to have happened because of anything you did or didn’t do.
- Angry: sometimes with those close to you or with friends or other members of the family who are pregnant or who’ve had a baby.
- Overwhelming sorrow: it may seem that everything you had hoped for has been taken away at a stroke.
- Confused: you may be desperately searching for answers. Unfortunately, for most miscarriages, a cause can’t be found.
- Anxious and out of control: grief can feel like fear. You may have butterflies in your stomach, feel sick or have an upset stomach. You may go off eating.
- Shocked and numb: you find it hard to concentrate or become withdrawn.
- Exhausted: You may feel tired, but unable to sleep. Or you may want to sleep all the time.
The important thing to remember is that mourning is a process that takes time. While some people are able to put aside their feelings and move on, others find that they need weeks or even months to be able to fully function again. Eventually, though, the pain of a miscarriage will subside and the world will indeed look brighter. But until then, it’s important to honor your feelings and to take the time you need to grieve.
10 Ways to Cope with Loss
Though there’s nothing you can do to “rush” the mourning process, there are simple ways you can take care of yourself as you heal.
- Ask for help in breaking the news. If you’re feeling too fragile to talk about your miscarriage or to deal with other people’s reactions, ask a friend, relative, or coworker to tell others so you don’t have to discuss it.
- 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.
- 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 everyone grieves differently. Share your feelings and your needs with your partner but give each other the freedom to experience the loss in your own way.
If your partner is a man, know that men and women grieve differently. While women tend to express their feelings and look for support from others, men tend to hold their feelings inside and deal with loss on their own. Men often feel they need to take care of their partners by remaining strong. So don’t misread his stoicism as not caring about you or your loss, and don’t judge yourself for not coping as well as he does.
- Don’t apologize for your pain. During your healing process, friends and relatives may pressure you to “move on,” “get over things,” or “return to life as usual.” But don’t feel as though you need to comply until you’re ready. Your pain is a normal response to the profound loss you’ve suffered, and you needn’t blame yourself or apologize to anyone for how you feel.
- Seek support. After a miscarriage, it may help to talk with someone The pain of bereavement can leave you feeling isolated and alone. As well as talking to loved ones, you could try sharing your experience with other people, especially those who have been through the same experience. You may also try and find a support group in your area.
- Seek professional help. During pregnancy and after a miscarriage, a woman’s hormone levels change rapidly. As a result, many women experience mood swings and/or depression. If you’re having trouble dealing with these emotions, speak with your doctor, who can refer you to a counselor if necessary.
- Be mindful of your feelings. Immediately after a miscarriage, you may find it hard to be around friends and relatives who are pregnant or have babies. If it feels too painful to see them, give yourself permission not to visit. Tell them that you still hold them dear, but that this is a difficult time for you and it’s just too hard to see them now. Also, think about how you feel before accepting any invitations to a baby shower, baptism, or first birthday party.
- Think about anniversaries and holidays. Anniversaries, such as the date the pregnancy was lost or the due date, may also be painful, and you may feel sadder than usual at these times. If you need to, take the day off, attend a religious service, or mark the date in some special way. Holidays may be difficult after a miscarriage too. If you’re grieving, think about quietly observing the holiday at home or attending festivities only briefly.
- Consider the future. If you and your partner have been through more than one miscarriage, you might begin thinking about how much loss you can bear. At some point, you’ll need to discuss whether you want to continue trying or consider adopting a baby, or if you can feel comfortable living your life without children.