If you’ve experienced a miscarriage, we want to start out by saying that you have every right to feel profound grief. It doesn’t matter if you were only a couple of weeks along, no one else knew about your pregnancy, or you didn’t have a name picked out yet. Your pain is valid, even if you feel no one else understands the depth of your loss.
For many people, pregnancy loss can seem like a taboo topic. You may feel like the world is crashing down around you while everyone else expects you to pick yourself up and continue moving forward. Friends and loved ones may offer sympathetic words, and while they might mean well, sometimes their “words of advice” can do more harm than good. And when you feel you can’t talk about or process your grief, it can be difficult to find closure.
While we know that feeling heartache is a valid, normal response to miscarriage, our compassionate therapists at Thriving Lane are here to help you process your feelings. Life after a pregnancy loss can feel isolating, but we are here to support you and let you know you’re not alone with online counseling for women.
Everyone’s method of grieving is different, and there’s no one right way to cope with your loss. Here are some of our recommendations on how to take care of yourself after a miscarriage.
Do you need help processing your grief? Give us a call.
Processing Guilt and Shame: Understand It’s Not Your Fault
When we experience immense disappointment or sudden loss, our first instinct is often to try and understand. After a miscarriage, your thoughts may follow a trail of questions with no clear answer. Why did this happen? What could I have done differently? Will this happen again?
Many women feel guilt and shame after a miscarriage. It can be hard to drown out the “what ifs,” and you may wonder if you could have done anything at all to prevent what happened to you. It’s normal to feel guilt or shame and wonder if you could be the one to blame for your loss.
The reality is that there was likely nothing you or anyone else could have done to stop the situation from happening. Even in a medically advanced world, it is often not possible to predict or prevent a miscarriage — despite how common it is. Miscarriage occurs in about one to five pregnancies where the mother knew she was pregnant.
Despite this knowledge, you may still have lingering feelings of guilt. It can be difficult to accept that you were powerless in preventing the loss. Healing can be a long process, but it can help to acknowledge and validate your feelings, recognize when you have negative thoughts that cause shame, and ultimately remind yourself that the miscarriage was not your fault.
Healing With Others: Find the Right Support
In the days, weeks, months, and even years after a miscarriage, you may not know who to turn to when you want to process your grief. As we briefly touched on earlier, people don’t always have the right words to say. The last thing you want to hear are comments minimizing your pain — especially the ones that start with “at least”.
It’s also possible that the miscarriage happened before you shared the news of your pregnancy with anyone. If you’ve chosen not to share your loss publicly with others, you may not know who you can safely confide in.
You may have a family member or friend who can provide you support during this time, but it’s okay if you don’t. There are other resources available that offer a safe, confidential place to process your feelings, such as therapy or online support groups. If you are part of a church or other religious institution, you may be able to access other support and resources through them.
Talking About Miscarriage With Your Partner
Your partner, if you have one, can be another source of support while you attempt to heal from your miscarriage. However, the pain and grief a miscarriage may cause can sometimes drive a wedge between couples. Here are a few things to remember when processing a miscarriage with your partner:
- You and your partner have unique reactions: You and your partner may react to the miscarriage very differently. You may both feel grief at different intensities or process that grief very differently. For example, one partner may become more withdrawn while the other longs to talk about their loss.
- Your partner may feel the need to “fix” things: While you may need time to process your grief, your partner may want to “fix” your grief. This places more stress and unneeded urgency on you to move on. But there is no cure for healing from child loss, and your emotions do not adhere to anyone’s timeline.
- You both may have different feelings on trying to conceive again: After having a miscarriage, you may want to wait a while before you even consider trying to get pregnant again, or you may want to try having a baby sooner. Your partner may feel the opposite.
While some couples draw closer together after a miscarriage, others may fall apart. You and your partner may not know how to talk about the miscarriage in a way that is healthy for both parties. Therapy can help you and your partner learn to talk about feelings surrounding the miscarriage. This opens the door for dealing with any pent-up shame, blame, or resentment.
Finding Closure: Honor Your Pregnancy Loss
It can be difficult to find closure for pregnancy loss as there is no real cultural norm for how people grieve for miscarriage. When our loved ones die, we typically hold a funeral for them. This gives us a chance to acknowledge our loss, mourn with others, and say our last symbolic goodbye. While the grieving process doesn’t end with the ceremony, these rituals allow us the chance to reflect.
It’s not very common for people to hold funerals after a miscarriage. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t hold a small ceremony for your baby or find some other means to honor their loss, including:
- Naming your baby
- Making or buying a piece of memorial jewelry
- Displaying a plaque, crystal, or urn
- Planting a memorial tree
- Placing a personalized memorial stone in your garden
- Getting a tattoo
- Lighting a candle on a specific date
There isn’t one right or normal way to memorialize your baby. You can choose whatever way is most comfortable and special to you, or you can opt to simply remember and reflect on your loss without needing to do anything.
The Journey Forward From Miscarriage
Research suggests that as many as 1 in 6 women who experience a miscarriage have symptoms of PTSD a year later. Additionally, experiencing a pregnancy loss can make women more susceptible to birth trauma, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and other postnatal conditions down the road.
Pregnancy loss can make you feel like your entire world is ending. You likely had visions and dreams of a future with your baby, and the process of learning about and undergoing a miscarriage can be traumatic. The emotional consequences of miscarriage can be profound, but therapy can help. If you’re struggling to cope, we encourage you to seek help.
Not sure where to go from here? Start with online counseling at Thriving Lane.
Thriving Lane services are available in Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Connect with us in Tampa, Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Atlanta, Athens, Macon, Alpharet-ta, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka, Minneapolis, Nebraska, Omaha, Lincoln, Bellevue.