Understanding and addressing pregnancy loss and grief for parents

No matter how your pregnancy comes to an end, losing your baby can be incredibly difficult. This is a unique sort of grief, too, which makes it hard for some parents to know how to deal with their emotions. But, whatever your experience, grieving infant loss is a journey that requires care, reflection, and support.

If you’ve experienced a pregnancy loss or know someone who is currently grieving for a lost baby, we’ve put together some information to help. 

pregnant woman with male partner kissing the tummy

Checking Your Physical Health

Before looking into the grief of pregnancy loss, it’s vital that you first check in with your physical health.

If you’ve recently suffered a miscarriage, you’ll need to be seen by a medical professional. Gynaedoctors describe your options as either taking “2 kinds of medication over a course of 2 days” or having “surgical management of a miscarriage, which is a short procedure performed under sedation”. 

Please make sure you’re seen by a medical professional if you haven’t been already. Though it can be emotionally painful, it’s incredibly important you have a safe termination of your pregnancy. 

Your doctor can also give you guidance on how to seek further support, and check in with you down the line to ensure you’re okay.

 

Give Yourself Room to Grieve

Grief is a normal, natural response to a loss and can manifest itself in many forms. After your loss, let these emotions in and sit with them. You may find yourself swinging from deep sadness to intense anger, and all of the emotions in between. This is okay. Let yourself feel whatever you need to feel. 

Remember, too, that nobody has the exact same experience of grief. Don’t expect that just because a friend told you she felt better after two weeks, you will. Take your time, let your emotions guide you, and be kind to yourself during this process

You might need to take time off from work or reduce existing responsibilities at this time, and that’s all okay. You’ve been through a traumatic experience and you need to give yourself time and space to recover.

 

Understand Those Around You Grieve Differently

Whether you have a partner or somebody else close to you who is also grieving, it’s important to remember you’ll go through this process differently. There’s no standard journey for how to get over a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, and you both need to respect each other’s natural response.

Be kind to one another, give each other space when it’s asked for, but also make room for time to grieve together. 

Remember, too, that just because someone close to you doesn’t show grief in the same way, doesn’t mean that they’re not hurting, too.

 

Commemorate Your Loss

Grieving infant loss can feel impossible, and facing up to the fact that you’ve lost your baby is incredibly difficult. That being said, it is important to do. 

Commemorating your loss can help you work through your emotions, share the experience with your support circle, and come to terms with your loss. It can also help you feel closer to the baby, providing a sense of comfort.

Some parents chose to have a small funeral for their baby. Others might light a candle and say some words with their partner, write a poem in their baby’s memory, or create a memory box. Follow what feels natural to you, finding a way to remember and grieve with or without your partner.

 

Speak to Your Support Network

When it comes to how to cope with a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other pregnancy loss, it’s crucial you don’t shut down. It’s well-known that having a shoulder to lean on and someone to talk to is one of the best ways to work through grief.

If you’re struggling to look to others for support, here are some tips that might help.

 

Talking With Your Partner

Focusing on your relationship after a pregnancy loss can be incredibly helpful. Remember to communicate openly and honestly about how you’re both feeling, and share your different ways of grieving.

Find understanding with each other’s process and discuss what you need from one another, be it space to sometimes be alone with your thoughts, meaningful conversations, or simply some more hugs throughout the day.

 

Talking With Your Family and Friends

If you have friends or family you can trust and rely on for support, lean on them. Let them know if you could use some extra help while you grieve, be it through food shopping, cooking, or just being there for a phone call.

Try to be as open with your feelings as you can. The people who love you will want to know how you’re doing in order to be there for you.

Remember, too, that what to say to someone who lost a child suddenly isn’t always obvious. If some people stutter or don’t quite know how to respond, give them time. Better yet, just let them know what you need from them.

 

Joining Support Groups 

Support groups are a wonderful way to feel less alone with your experience. Speak with others who can relate to what you’re going through and seek comfort in each other. This can be done in-person or online, depending on what you’re most comfortable with.

 

Speaking to a Professional

When grief becomes overwhelming, seek out support from a professional. You can find therapists who specialise in loss – including pregnancy loss – to guide you through your experience and develop coping mechanisms for emotions that are difficult to manage.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to those around you, a therapist is also a great outlet. Speak freely and in a safe space without concerns of judgement.

 

Look After Your Mental Health

Mental health is frequently put on the back burner in the face of grief. It’s vital, though, that you don’t forget to look after your mind while you go through such an emotionally draining experience. Take a look at our mental health tips to find more advice. 

 

Can Grief Make You Sick?

The stress of grief is known to make your body more vulnerable to sickness. From colds to infections, you might become ill more frequently while you mourn your pregnancy loss, so be sure to take good care of yourself.

Eating healthily, getting plenty of rest, and taking a vitamin supplement can all help keep illness at bay while you’re grieving. Some simple meals that don’t take long to make include:

  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Pesto pasta with vegetables and chicken/tofu
  • Stir fries with pre-mix vegetables

Don’t forget self-care, either. Learning to love yourself through your grief is crucial for cultivating self-compassion. 

 

How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving

What do you say to someone going through a pregnancy loss? When looking for comforting words for a mother who lost her daughter or son, or a father dealing with the loss of a child, some helpful phrases include:

  • I’m so sorry for what you’re going through
  • I’m here for whatever you need
  • Take your time to grieve 
  • Is there anything I can do to help you?

It’s also important you check in on their health. Make sure they’re looking after themselves and, if they’re struggling, drop off some healthy food or home-cooked meals to show your love and support.

 

Final Thoughts

Grieving infant loss is always a difficult experience and one that’s likely to be full of sadness, anger, and questioning. But, your pain won’t feel this strong forever. By working with these tips, you’ll be setting yourself up for a healthy grieving process that will make way for happiness again.

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