The sudden, unexpected loss of a baby can be overwhelming and can leave you physically, emotionally and spiritually drained. Your feelings during this time are influenced by past experiences, personality traits, support systems and how one expresses emotion.
Grieving can be a painful and lonely process leading to common emotional upheavals including:
- Feelings of sadness, shock, guilt, anger, depression, agitation, irritability and fear.
- Blaming yourself for something you did or neglected to do. "If only," "what if" and "why" become familiar phrases.
- Feelings of anger, rage, envy and resentment toward yourself, your partner, your physician or your baby.
- Mood changes and crying over the slightest thing.
- Feeling out of place with others. Grieving parents often feel that they are "going crazy."
Grief can manifest itself in physical symptoms including:
- Tightness in the throat
- Sensations of dizziness, headaches or heaviness in the chest
- Physical emptiness inside
- Difficulty concentrating, reading, writing or making decisions
- Wandering aimlessly, being forgetful or unable to finish projects or accomplish ordinary activities
- Difficulty sleeping, resulting in fatigue or feelings of exhaustion
Fathers or partners may be experiencing the same emotions as the baby’s mother. At the same time you may feel a sense of detachment from her. This may lead to a lack of understanding of her feelings.
Be careful not to suppress your grief as it may arise later. Your feelings of grief may not receive the same attention as that of your partner. Know your feelings are normal even though you and your partner may be grieving differently. Be open to receiving support from sources such as family, friends or from somewhere you least expect it.
There are many activities that can help the grieving process:
- When you feel lonely or sad, share your feelings and thoughts about your baby with your partner, friends and family.
- Reading can be a good source of education, understanding and comfort.
- Some parents feel comforted by writing letters to their baby or by finding a way to memorialize their baby.
- Keeping a journal can be a healing technique.
- Be gentle with yourself as you heal.
Family and Friends
Family members and friends may have difficulty understanding the intensity of a bereaved parent’s grief, leaving you to experience your loss alone. Family and friends expect you to go through some stage of "normal grief," but most are eager for your rapid return to being yourself, perhaps dismissing the depth of your pain. This, in turn, can leave you feeling misunderstood and isolated even further.
Tell your family and friends how you are feeling and how they can help you. Feeling supported and finding meaningful ways to remember your baby may further the healing process and help you feel hopeful once again. Creating an environment of support where emotions, however painful, are openly shared can be helpful.
Give yourself permission to heal without time limits or expectations of what is "normal." As you heal, some days you will experience nothing but grief and other days you will feel more like your former self. Many parents who have suffered pregnancy loss say the heartache of losing a baby never goes away, but the intensity of the anguish and the pain diminishes over time.
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