The loss of a pregnancy is different from any other loss in that you have not really even met the person that you are grieving over. Yet this loss can also be devastating no matter when it happens or what the circumstances were. Loss of a pregnancy means disappointment and loss of a set of dreams. It is combined with worry about whether you will be able to fall pregnant again and whether you will ever be able to fulfil the dream of carrying a child to term and becoming a parent.
One of the most important points to remember in coping with a miscarriage is that this loss is no less than any other and that your grief is as real as anyone else’s, albeit a little different in nature.
Many women feel as though they are not justified to mourn the loss of a pregnancy and that they should “get over it” quickly.
While everyone needs to move forward and onward after the loss of a loved one, you do need time to heal and move through the mourning process naturally, and this is a personal journey. Coping with a miscarriage means validating the loss and allowing yourself to grieve over the miscarriage.
You may notice that you move through the 5 stages of grief. You may experience denial where you find it nearly impossible to fully grasp what has happened. You are unable to accept that the pregnancy has terminated and you may find yourself in a state of shock. You might also experience anger – at yourself, at your partner and even at your doctor. You will find yourself angry at anyone who can shoulder the brunt of your anger. After all, this isn’t fair and it shouldn’t have happened to you. You may find yourself struggling with depression, a lack of motivation and feeling tearful a lot of the time and you may even experience envy over other mums who are carrying to term and giving birth to healthy babies. Don’t be surprised to experience resentment, bitterness and helplessness as well. Although you may find yourself dealing with all these emotions and feelings, recognise that you will also heal and at some point you will accept what has happened and move forward.
Allow yourself the time to move through the grief process at your own pace and to find acceptance and peace at the end.
Coping with a miscarriage means realising that your partner may not be grieving in the same way or intensity as you. Allow your partner the space and time to grieve in their own way and try to remain connected through this difficult period. While envy and resentment are common emotions after a miscarriage, especially repeated miscarriages, try not to close yourself off from other people. You need the support and you need to carry on living your life. Perhaps the guilt of self-blame is standing in the way of your healing – make sure that you are able to realise that this is not your fault. Neither you nor your body are to blame for the loss. If you have some unresolved issues regarding the miscarriage then it is strongly recommended that you find a psychologist to help you work through these difficulties.
Delaney is a senior registered psychologist working with people of all backgrounds and with a special interest in LGBTI+ people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and Indigenous people.