No one knows how they’re going to feel after a pregnancy loss, and even women who have had a previous pregnancy loss may grieve differently than they did the time before. The process of recovering from a miscarriage can be made even more difficult by the fact that certain experiences aren’t talked about as much as others. Here are five things you might experience after a pregnancy loss, and ways to handle them.
Seeing babies or other pregnant women might be really difficult for a while.
After experiencing a pregnancy loss of any kind, it can be difficult for women to see or hear anything related to pregnancy and babies. Things like seeing a baby bump or hearing women talk about their pregnancies might make you feel sad, angry, or might even make you start to cry. This might catch you off-guard, but it’s a completely normal reaction when you take into account the fact that you’ve been through a traumatic experience, and being reminded of babies can make you revisit that trauma.
Consider writing in a journal as a way to get these feelings out. If writing doesn’t appeal to you, find someone who you can talk to who has been through a similar situation, or who understands that these responses are an acceptable and natural part of the grieving process.
You and your partner may grieve in different ways.
Two people can react to the same situation in completely opposite ways, and this is especially true for something as intense and devastating as grief. Perhaps your partner needs to talk a lot, and you don’t. Or maybe it’s the opposite and your partner shuts down whenever they are sad. It’s possible that your partner feels as though they need to be strong for you so they push their grief aside completely.
No matter your grieving styles, you’ll be able to get through any pain you’re both feeling by communicating with one another. Ask each other questions. Be sensitive to the answers, and respect each other’s boundaries. Be gentle with yourselves and with one another. Remember that healing will take time for both of you.
People might say things that are hurtful or offensive to you.
Grief is an extremely difficult thing for people to deal with, and most people won’t know the right thing to say to you. You might hear things like, “at least you weren’t further along,” “at least you don’t have to buy maternity clothes!” “it was God’s will” or “everything happens for a reason.” Other people may tell you life goes on or that you’ll feel better soon. While they come from a well-intentioned place, these comments can be hurtful and cause you more pain when you least expect it.
No matter what anyone says, you should never feel wrong or foolish for caring as much as you do. Anyone who has been through this kind of experience could tell you that your feelings are entirely appropriate, and there is no wrong way to grieve. You don’t need to listen to or believe people who say things that make you feel bad, or even mildly annoyed. If you find yourself in a conversation with someone who is making you uncomfortable, let them know you appreciate their support but that you would rather talk about something else.
You might feel a need to memorialize the loss.
Some women mark their pregnancy loss with a special ritual that helps them celebrate and remember the babies that they loved, and will always love. After all, when our loved ones pass away, we have certain personal and familial traditions that we undergo. But in the United States at least, miscarriages have largely remained private and unceremonialized, which can contribute to women and their partners feeling restless, or like they have to move on faster.
Women who are searching for a way to memorialize their baby may want to look into the Buddhist tradition of mizuko kuyo. This is a ceremony offered by more and more American Zen Centers. Some women might also find comfort in writing letters to their babies, planting plants or trees in honor of their babies, or purchasing customized jewelry to remind them of their babies.
You might blame yourself or feel like you are a failure.
Many women feel as though the loss of a pregnancy was somehow their own fault. They may get mad at themselves or their own bodies. They may start to obsess over every little thing they did, ate, or felt – searching for the moment they could have prevented the events that unfolded. But the truth is, miscarriages can happen to anyone. They are more common than anyone talks about. You are not the failure, and you are not to blame.
- “Miscarriage.” PlannedParenthood. Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc, 2016. Web.
- OBOS Pregnancy and Birth Contributors. “Miscarriage in the First Trimester.” OurBodiesOurselves. Our Bodies Ourselves, Apr 9 2014. Web.
- “Miscarriage.” MarchofDimes. March of Dimes Foundation, Jul 2012. Web.
- “Pregnancy loss: How to cope.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Jun 25 2016. Web.
- Elizabeth Leis-Newman. “Miscarriage and loss.” APA. American Psychological Association Monitor on Psychology. 43(6)56. Web. June 2012.