Grief After Miscarriage
Matthew Brennan, MD
Ofall the things a woman may go through, miscarriage may be one of the most poorly understood. You may feel terribly sad, yet alone, because some of the people closest to you simply don't grasp what you're going through.
They may want to empathize, but not know how to relate, especially if they haven’t experienced a miscarriage themselves. They may not comprehend how real your baby was to you, even though you didn't get to hold it.
Here is a brief look at the very real grief that can happen after miscarriage and suggestions for how to move through it.
Recognizing Grief After Miscarriage
Many women blame themselves for miscarriage. The truth is, most miscarriages are outside your control. Try not to add to your grief by blaming yourself.
You may need time to heal emotionally after you lose a baby to miscarriage. It is very normal to grieve, not just for your baby, but also for all of the dreams you had for you and your child.
Grief takes different forms for different people. You might feel:
- Unable to concentrate
You may find it difficult to be around families with healthy infants for a while. Even after you think you’ve moved on, grief can return without warning. The baby’s due date or Mother's Day can bring back old feelings of sorrow and longing. Some women have a resurgence of grief when they get pregnant again.
How long and deeply you grieve depends upon many different factors. For example, grief can be worse if you miscarry later in your pregnancy because you had more time to get attached to your baby. It’s possible your grief will be deeper and take longer to work through if you were quite far along in planning for your baby, for instance if you picked a name or decorated the nursery.
Getting Support After Miscarriage
Grief may make you feel like retreating, but try to get the support you need right now and in the future.
Support each other.Your spouse or partner may be grieving as well, even if it is hard to recognize. For instance, you may be angry and he may feel numb. Or you may need to talk, while he can’t find words for his feelings. If you're not connecting, seek the help of a counselor who can help you understand and support each other.
Consider a support group. You may find comfort and healing in a support group with others who have also lost a child to miscarriage. Your hospital or health care provider may be able to refer you to a nearby support group. The group, Share: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support (www.nationalshare.org) lists support groups in many states.
Find what works for you. Grief has a way of lasting longer than you think it will. You can give yourself time, you can talk to understanding friends and family, but you can’t rush the grief process. Consider planting a tree, giving to a charity, or finding some other way to memorialize your lost baby. Some women try to get pregnant again soon after they miscarry. Others lead support groups or talk to other women who have had the same experience. If you go easy on yourself and stay open, you will find something that works for you.