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Cayman Parent | Articles | Uncategorised | Life After Loss | Part II

Life After Loss | Part II

Coping with Loss

Whilst the grief will never disappear, for many people the first six months after a loss will be particularly difficult. Feelings of grief, anger, guilt, loneliness, depression and disbelief can create a rollercoaster of emotions that can change day-to-day or even minute-to-minute.

Nebraska-based Pyschotherapist Hannah Mirmiran, writing on www.whatsyourgrief.com, offers 13 suggestions on how to approach the grieving process:

  • Acknowledge that this is a big loss. It’s important to acknowledge that regardless of how far along the pregnancy was, or what type of loss you’ve endured, this is a significant loss and you can give yourself permission to grieve.
  • Allow yourself to feel all of your feelings. Be sad, be angry, be in shock. Just allow yourself to be where you are. Feel your feelings deeply and know that they won’t last forever.
  • Try not to compare your grief. It’s so easy to compare your grief with the grief of others. This goes both ways. You might try to convince yourself that because your loss was early, you don’t deserve to feel as sad as a woman who has experienced a later loss. Or maybe you have experienced the death of an infant and can’t fathom why mothers who have had miscarriages would even feel sad. No two losses are the same. Your loss was traumatic and you are sad and that is what matters.
  • Take care of your physical needs. While the emotional impact of a loss is clearly painful, the physical and hormonal impact can also be significant. You may find it helpful to take some time off from work (your employer may allow you to take maternity or parental leave). Drink lots of fluid, rest as much as possible and follow-up with your medical provider for after-care.
  • Know you are not alone. Unfortunately, there are many other people who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy or child and there is a whole community of women who self-identify as “baby loss mums”. Seek out local support groups and online communities who might help you share your grief.
  • Know that everyone grieves differently. Each of us needs support in different ways. Some people need privacy and others need to talk through the experience with many people. Some people find it helpful to journal or even start a blog of their own, and others don’t have the patience to write anything. There isn’t a right or wrong way; the important part is knowing what feels best to you and then doing it.
  • Reach out to friends and family for support. If you share the loss with others, chances are that they will ask you what you need or how they can help. It’s good to have a few suggestions for letting others know exactly what they can do that will be supportive. Perhaps they could help with grocery shopping, cooking or looking after existing children; or maybe you just need them to sit with you whilst you cry.
  • Try and let go of guilt. Guilt is not productive and it’s often a dangerous spiral. It’s very common to try to figure out why the loss has occurred. It’s also common to blame yourself, maybe for drinking that glass of wine before you knew you were pregnant, or for taking an Advil or working out too strenuously. Most likely, there is nothing you did to contribute to the loss. Know that you did all that you could.
  • Expect some bumps in the road. “Train wreck moments” may happen when you find out that a friend or relative is pregnant soon after your loss, or when someone who knew you were pregnant asks how many weeks are left in the pregnancy without knowing about the loss. Sometimes just expecting that there will be some bumps helps to make them a little easier to endure when they do happen.
  • Expect some people to say the wrong things. Unfortunately, in their attempts to make you feel better or to alleviate their own anxiety, some people might say things that don’t feel great to you. You may hear things like “you can always try again”, or “at least you know you can get pregnant”. Although these comments can sting, it’s usually easiest to accept clumsy comments at the time, then decide whether or not to address them at a later point.
  • Limit your exposure to Facebook. After you’ve experienced a loss, a glance at Facebook can be like looking at an airbrushed album of the picture-perfect lives of others and a glaring reminder that others have exactly what you don’t have and desperately want. Some people find it helpful to take a social media sabbatical for a period of time until the painful feelings begin to decrease in intensity.
  • Say goodbye. There isn’t really an official protocol on how to appropriately recognise the loss of a baby. And yet, at some point in your grieving process, it may be helpful to do something to recognise the loss. Some parents choose to hold a funeral or memorial service. For parents who experience an earlier miscarriage, they may find it helpful to recognise the loss in a more personal way, perhaps purchasing an ornament or piece of jewellery, or planting a tree. Many people also find it helpful to create a memory box filled with memories from the pregnancy (such as pictures, ultrasound images, a list of potential names, perhaps a letter from each parent to the baby).
  • Get emotional help. I know that as a therapist, I’m biased, but I truly believe that everyone can benefit from counselling and support from a third party. Especially if you are struggling with sadness, guilt, and anger and these feelings aren’t seeming to decrease with time. Depression is common after pregnancy loss and it’s important to address it early.

 

If you feel you need support during your grieving process, there are number of places you can go for help.

On-Island:

Online:

Podcasts:

Books:

 

 


How to Help Those who have Experienced Loss

Whilst it’s easy to want to shy away from potentially awkward or emotionally-charged conversations, there are lots of positive ways you can help people during their grieving. Try not to sidestep the subject, whilst being mindful of the following advice:

 


For Part I click here.

 
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