15 Things Doctors Don’t Tell You About Grief After Pregnancy Loss But Should
1) No matter what stage of loss during pregnancy it hurts – It doesn’t matter if your loss was in the first trimester or happened after birth. The death of your baby burns a hole through your soul that can never be fully forgotten. Research shows this to be true too. An early loss can devastate a woman just as much as a later term loss can.
2) Some will not acknowledge your loss – It’s called disenfranchised grief, when your loss is not recognized by friends and loved ones. Loss makes those who haven’t experienced it uncomfortable. People often think it’s something that happens to others. For those who have not experienced a pregnancy loss it may be easier for them to ignore your pain than it is to offer words of condolence. Its not fair but it’s the reality of what might happen, I’m sorry to say.
3) It hurts like hell psychically and emotionally – I’m not just talking about the pain from the actual experience of giving birth to a loss. Though, that’s difficult too. The grief that accompanies the loss is full of anguish. So much so that it can drain your body physically. You might be more tired, have muscle aches or at times feel like you can’t breathe. Grief hurts.
4) You blame yourself – You have thoughts of maybe if I wouldn’t have, or I should have. Please, please put those thoughts away. Know they are normal. Lots of loss moms have them but please push them away if you can. Say it with me, “This is not your fault.”
5) You lose trust in your body – This baby lived in your body. If you had a pregnancy loss it means the baby probably died in your body too. It’s hard to trust your body again in any way when it was supposed to produce and protect life and instead it was where death occurred. Please know that your body wanted this for you too. She was rooting for you, hoping with you and doing everything she knew how to do to protect this baby with you. She grieves too.
6) You feel isolated – This doesn’t happen! There is a silence around pregnancy loss that needs to be broken. So that we know longer believe statements and thoughts of “this happens to others,” because the truth is it happened to us. Which means it happens. But now we feel alone and isolated in our grief because others don’t talk about their losses. We feel isolated because if no one is talking we can’t find others out there that understand this grief. They are there. Keep looking, keep talking and you will find a tribe of beautiful mamas waiting to embrace you with love and warmth so you no longer feel alone.
7) You will grieve for what would have been – The loss of a pregnancy is not only the loss of a baby, a person that died – it’s also the loss of what could have been. Dreams and hopes for the future with your child taken away. You are allowed to grieve those things too.
8) It happens more than you think – 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in a loss, while 1 in 160 pregnancies in the US will result in a stillbirth. That means that babies are dying everyday. It’s just not talked about. We need to change that.
9) Some will be mean – Maybe not on purpose, but people are clumsy when it comes to providing empathy and compassion during hard times. It’s something we need more practice at in our society but fail to recognize this need. People will say and do stupid things, even out of the kindness of their hearts. Ignore them. You don’t have time for that right now. Focus on taking care of you and spending time with others that also focus on taking care of you.
10) You will grieve differently than your partner – Your partner is missing and grieving baby too. You were both expecting to start a new life with a baby and now the plans have been tragically changed. Know that people are different in how they love and in how the grieve. Men and women often express emotions differently and this is true for grief as well. Keep this in mind as you walk this difficult journey together and be gentle with each other.
11) It’s traumatic – Usually a pregnancy loss happens suddenly, unexpectedly and physically occurs within your body. All these things can lead to experiencing the loss as a trauma and that is okay and a normal reaction for some. Know that there are resources and professionals out there who can help if you need added support.
12) There is support – You are not alone! There are other loss moms out there waiting to open their arms up to you. Search for them, find them, they will be your life line during this difficult and heartbreaking time. When you do find them and you will, they will help hold you up as you walk this dark road of grief. They are out there waiting for you!
13) A ritual goodbye can help no matter what stage of loss – One thing that might help you grieve is to actual one your loss. This means that you acknowledge the baby and loss in some way to help initiate the grieving process. It could be a funeral, a small gathering of friends and loved ones or just a ritual you do in private. Whatever it is, just make sure it feels right for you.
14) You are still at risk for PMADs but don’t confuse that with normal grief – Feelings of sadness, grief and even some anxiety are normal after a pregnancy loss. Grief is a normal reaction to losing a loved one. Also keep in mind that you are still postpartum no matter what trimester you lost your baby in, so you are still at risk for experiencing postpartum anxiety and depression. Know the signs so that if you need to you can get help.
15) You will always remember – A mother always remembers what age her baby would have been. It could be one year or twenty but you will remember that there was supposed to be a baby. It’s okay to remember. It’s a way to still love.