How to Give Yourself Space to Grieve a Miscarriage
Despite peoples’ and society’s’ expectations of how quickly you should move on from a miscarriage, it is not something that you can decide to just “get over” or “forget about.”
Having a miscarriage is emotionally devastating, and it is important to give yourself the space to grieve your baby and all of the dreams you had for them. While everyone experiences grief differently, there are five stages of grief people often go through. These include: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. For some, you may find yourself going through these stages in that exact order. First, denying the reality of the situation in order to protect yourself from the shock of your loss. Then, feeling angry, bitter, and searching for something or someone to blame. After that, you may find yourself bargaining or asking “what if…” Next, feelings of intense sadness that cause decreased sleep, loss of motivation, or a reduced appetite might occur. Finally, you may experience feelings of acceptance. It’s important to remember that acceptance does not mean that you are “fine” with your loss, it is just saying that you have accepted the reality of the loss and the fact that you cannot do anything to change this devastating reality.
Others of you may not walk through the five stages of grief in this exact order. For example, you may first experience depression, then anger, then denial, etc. However, to be in any of these stages right now, is completely normal and are not a sign of mental illness. It is the normal response to your huge loss.
You may be upset at yourself for feeling a certain way and feel like you are becoming someone you don’t want to. However, allow yourself to feel these ways – it is part of the process of grieving your lost baby and is really the only way to move forward. In fact, all of your different emotions serve a purpose whether you realize it or not. For example, you may be feeling angry all of the time now, but this is just a season of your life. In fact, it may be a way you are protecting yourself from the deep feelings of sadness that are underneath your anger. It might not be time to start processing your sadness, so for now – stay with that anger and be curious toward it. Process that anger with a safe person in your life or a therapist. Give it the attention it needs. Then, when it is safe to do so, you can begin to process your intense sadness over your loss.
One specific way I encourage clients to grieve a miscarriage is to create a grief ritual, in which you come up with a way to grieve and continue the bond with your baby that was lost. Some examples of grief rituals are to hold a memorial service, create a space in your house for your unborn baby (ex: a corner of a room with candles, a picture, etc.), planting a tree or plant in your backyard, writing a letter, etc. It is a way for you to acknowledge the loss and to keep that baby in your life.
If you take anything away from this blog post, it is this – giving yourself space to grieve your miscarriage and to acknowledge all of the feelings that come with the grief is the best thing you can do for yourself amidst this loss. I know it doesn’t feel good and I know it feels too hard to carry. However, allowing yourself to feel the way you do and not ignoring your feelings will lead to ultimate healing and acceptance.