Emotional Healing and Miscarriage Grief Support
Emotional support for the one in four women who have undergone this devastating loss 

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month. Parents around the globe use this occasion to honor the pregnancies and babies they lost during miscarriage, pregnancy loss, and stillbirth. On October 15, many will light a candle and release a balloon into the skies in memory of their lost dreams and babies.

President Ronald Reagan established this commemorative month in October 1988, declaring its designation with these moving words: “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their children, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world.” 

The spectrum of pregnancy and infant loss

Experts estimate that 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, with more than 80 percent of these losses occurring before 12 weeks. One percent of pregnancies will result in stillbirths.

A miscarriage refers to a fetal loss in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and a stillbirth means a loss 20 or more weeks after a pregnancy begins. Stillbirth further can be classified by when it occurs: early, late, term, or during childbirth.

To prospective parents who have yearned for children of their own and who have been in infertility treatment, pregnancy loss at any stage is overwhelming. Pregnancy loss or failure can include when treatment cycles fail or anytime after a confirmed pregnancy, even in its earliest days as a chemical pregnancy.

How to Cope with Miscarriage Grief

One of the goals of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month is to give a voice and direction to the one in four women who may not know how to manage their grief. Though everyone must process tragedy at their own pace, we have compiled 9  suggestions for coping with miscarriages, including:

1. Understand the stages of miscarriage grief

Chances are you will feel many different emotions after your loss, including denial, guilt, anger, depression, envy, and yearning. Guilt is a particularly hurtful stage of grief that may take time to disappear. Many women think they did something wrong to cause their pregnancies to fail, but chromosomal abnormalities are the most common cause of miscarriages and are not preventable.

You might feel a range of emotions, including being bereft, inconsolable, tired, or apathetic. These feelings all are normal. Don’t be hard on yourself.

2. Acknowledge your right to mourn

When someone you love dies, your family members and friends will send sympathy cards, organize meals, attend the funeral or wake, and provide other means of support.

But the routine rituals of grief often do not apply for pregnancy losses and miscarriages. These tragedies often are hidden from view because the parents-to-be never revealed the pregnancies since many were planning to wait until they were further along. But their hopes and dreams were shattered, nonetheless.

In addition to not receiving the type of sympathy afforded other devastating events, many women don’t feel they have the ‘right’ to mourn their losses, especially if the pregnancy was in its early stages or never occurred because of a failed treatment cycle.

But you have the right to feel sad, angry, and depressed and to take as long as you need to move past these emotions. Grief has no timeline. You are a mother, even if you have no baby in your arms.

3. Protect yourself

During the delicate time after your miscarriage, may not be the time to attend baby showers, interact on social media, or participate in events that will remind you of your baby-to-be. Try to make taking care of yourself your top priority.

4. Seek professional miscarriage help

You may need the assistance of a mental health professional who can teach you techniques to help you deal with your sorrow and process your feelings. Our team at HRC Fertility can recommend licensed therapists who are experienced in specifically helping women who are pregnancy loss survivors.

5. Connect with other women who have experienced loss

As well as getting help from a counselor, you may also benefit from connecting with women who have undergone similar experiences through miscarriage support groups. You can find support groups through infertility support organizations like RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, on Facebook and Instagram, at local hospitals, or through your infertility therapist.

Meeting face to face to share your feelings can be very cathartic and empowering, an important part of emotional healing after miscarraige. On October 15, thousands of families will be lighting candles to commemorate the little lives lost, which can be an opportunity for you to meet miscarriage survivors in your community.

6. Don’t forget the emotional needs of your partner

Though you went through the physical trauma of infertility treatment, pregnancy failure, or miscarriage, your partner probably is also hurting during this tumultuous time. While he or she may be attending to your needs, don’t forget to talk to him or her about how they are feeling and see how they can be supported with you.

7. Memorialize your baby

Did you already have a name chosen for your baby or envision the day he or she would be born? Many women find comfort in collecting mementos like first ultrasound pictures or gifts they bought their babies-to-be when they learned they were pregnant. Create a special ceremony, like releasing balloons, to remember your baby’s passing or the day they were to be born. Your baby was real to you and your loved ones, and celebrating them can become an important ritual.

8. Get involved and advocate

Helping other women who are part of this lonely sisterhood can help in the healing process. Make sure your local doctors have educational materials and support services for their patients. Ask your city or town to designate October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

9. Find the rainbow in your life

Healing takes time, but it is something to look forward to as you envision the future and what the possibilities may be. Many women go on to have their ‘rainbow’ babies after suffering these horrible losses.

Have questions about miscarriage support? The clinical team at HRC Fertility is available to help you learn your next steps to heal and have hope.  Contact HRC Fertility today to speak with a fertility specialist.

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