I felt like I was being carried over the threshold of a sisterhood of loss. I knew I was not walking alone, and that eventually I would bob back up to the surface of the deep, because the women around me showed me what healing looks like.Anna White, author
Experiencing a miscarriage is a unique type of loss. Unlike other significant losses, it is often experienced in secrecy and isolation. Many couples might not have even shared that they were pregnant, and then feel uncomfortable mentioning that they lost a child, since most couples now wait until twelve weeks before sharing with families and friends, just to make sure that the baby is okay.
This practice is not only common with couples who have had a previous miscarriage, but with those who are pregnant for the first time, or even have had successful births.
The recent sharing by Mark Zuckerburg, founder of Facebook, about his wife Priscilla’s current pregnancy and also their previous miscarriages, has hopefully opened the door for couples to share their fears and their grief.
Unlike Other Kinds Of Grief
The grief is often misunderstood by others. For instance, the message that grieving couples might hear or perceive from others is that having a miscarriage could not possibly be as painful as losing a baby. But this could not be further from the truth.
- A miscarriage can be every bit as emotionally devastating. Moms and dads will have had plans, dreams, and a special connection with a future baby.
- Because of some of the misconceptions about how miscarriages are emotionally experienced, the couple may choose to grieve quietly and alone.
- Some couples even avoid talking with each other about their shared pain.
- Often, anxiety, depression, bursts of anger and all-pervasive fear may develop. This then may be further exacerbated if the couple is not experiencing support from others.
- The grief of a miscarriage may mirror “traditional” grief, in that overwhelming sadness, feelings of loss, and anger are experienced, however this type of grief is often compounded by guilt.
- Parents, and especially mothers, feel as if they have “done something wrong”, and they could have somehow prevented the death – possibly by not exercising as strenuously, or not eating cheese, or any number of reasons.
However, most miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities, as many as 70%, according to Charles Lockwood, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida. It seems to be nature’s way of correcting for either an extra chromosome or chromosomal defects.
As you move through the grieving process, and start to feel comfortable with the idea of having another child, it is important to know that this doesn’t mean that the other baby has been or will be forgotten. You deserve to be well, and moving past grief doesn’t mean forgetting. A memorial or ceremony of some kind may help to serve as a reminder that your baby has not been forgotten.
It’s important to reach out to at least one person in your life that is emotionally safe. Emotionally safe means someone who can hold the space for your feelings, really hear your experience, and empathize. Setting boundaries with people who you do tell is also vitally important.
Find more information and coping mechanisms here.
My wish for you today is that you allow yourself to truly feel whatever may be coming up for you.
---- Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD, Director.