The stories of women who had to go through the experience of a miscarriage, or lost a baby, are too little heard. It so often happens that a woman experiencing the grieving process after such an experience is surprised to hear that there are so many other women who have walked the same path as her, and have experienced similar questions and emotions.
Experiences of miscarriage
Each woman and what she experiences are unique, but there are similarities between different people's experiences. It is important that she knows she is not alone.
Regardless of the circumstances of the pregnancy, hearing that there is no longer a heartbeat is a huge shock to a pregnant woman and the baby's father. Many things may have happened, pleasant and unpleasant, before or during pregnancy - the pregnancy may have been unplanned, or may have faced many challenges. However, this news usually comes unexpectedly. When something like this happens, there are usually many who go through the mind of a mother (and a father). Powerlessness, a sense of unreality and possibly reproach are usually part of the initial experience. Huge feelings of guilt because she "let the baby die" can also occur.
There are physical (physical) consequences that follow a miscarriage, but usually the emotional process is the most difficult. Someone who has already experienced it will tell that the pain never really goes away, but that it does get "softer". Some days you will be able to live with reality more easily than other days.
Sometimes it is only necessary to “get away” from reality for a day or so and e.g. to focus on work or something else, so that one can regain strength to move on. It is important that the people close to you also understand the situation and understand that you do not always want to talk about your loss.
Feelings of guilt
As mentioned, part of the grieving process is experiencing times of intense anger, during which one blames yourself or someone else for what happened. The woman may also feel guilty because her body couldn't keep the baby safe; she has deprived her husband of the child; she did something that caused the miscarriage or stillbirth, etc. The man may feel guilty for not being able to protect the woman, for doing something to cause the miscarriage, or for not being able to do something to make it better for her.
Confrontation with the outside world
Few things can make one feel as defenseless as the loss of a baby / pregnancy. Women who have experienced it say that sometimes they did not even want to leave the hospital, because then they had to face the world out there.
There are people who need to be informed immediately of what happened, and people who only need to know later. It can be very difficult for the relationship couple or partners to see these people in the months following the miscarriage. Those who know what happened sometimes go through their own grieving process and may struggle to provide support to the mother and father. Repeating the news repeatedly can be demanding and emotional. It can also be a trigger that reminds relationships of painful events and can turn a good day into a difficult one.
Miscarriages usually, though not always, happen unexpectedly or suddenly. It can cause one to develop a type of trauma response, where one is aware of threat and almost constantly wondering where the next disaster or crisis will come from (hypervigilance). The world is becoming a terrifying place where a horrible thing can happen anytime - unexpectedly. This fear and anxiety can make it difficult to work through the grieving process, especially if there is more than one loss involved.
Difficult and better days
Like any difficult process, there are days when you feel you can handle things and possibly other days you don't even want to get out of bed. This struggle can take its toll on one's mental health. Relationships often struggle with symptoms of anxiety and depression as they experience this experience. Be mindful of any signs of this. Read more by following these links: Depression symptoms en Complete the HADS
A strain on the relationship
No one handles the grieving process the same. One's unique style of dealing with this type of process has a lot to do with your personality, coping mechanisms and social relationships. One person may prefer to keep his / her process as private as possible, while another may want to share as much of their experience as possible and even share it on social media. One may have a need not to talk about the loss on a daily basis, while the other gets frustrated if he / she cannot talk about the experience as much as possible.
Each one may also have his / her good and bad days, when they want to be cherished or left alone, and have their own triggers that may relive the grief. It is therefore important to keep the communication channels open, so that one can be aware of the other person's needs and stay in touch with one another. While there should be enough space for each individual process, it is also necessary that the relationship partners find a way to cope with this difficult experience together.
Losing a baby and / or ending a pregnancy is a sad experience. This is often accompanied by trauma, e.g. an emergency operation, a maternity process (knowing the baby is no longer alive) and / or holding a baby who is already dead. As already mentioned, it can leave one with an awareness that horrible things can happen unexpectedly. Certain associations can also provoke emotional reaction. For example, it may be difficult for a relationship couple to hear or see that a friend / family member is pregnant. It can also cause stress to see someone hold a baby or child who reminds you of your loss. Even seeing the people who were together in the prenatal class can be difficult.
Advice to the loved ones of a relationship couple who has lost a baby
Advice to relationship partners
- Make and break
Every marriage / relationship has its good times, bad times and challenges. Dealing with the loss of a baby is a major challenge for sure. It can make and break a relationship. If the individuals within the relationship face each other and allow the loss to cause an emotional separation between them, it can seriously harm the relationship. If they rather understand each other and work through it together, it can strengthen their relationship.
It is crucial that relationship partners talk to each other about what they are feeling and experiencing. A relationship can deepen a lot by dealing with such a crisis together. Open communication and respect for each other's needs is important.
- Each one his space
Each partner should have their own “space” to handle the situation in their own unique way. They do not have to share everything or be in each other's company permanently to keep in touch. Allows everyone to also spend time with him / herself and his / her emotions. Find more practical advice by clicking the following link: Dealing with the loss
Advice to someone out of the relationship
- What should I do?
You can't take away or fix the problem. However, you may be "present" and available to create a "safe space" for your friend or family member.
- Emotions are important, just listen
Allow him / her enough time to feel and express sadness, anger (or any other emotion). Don't try to say something that will "make it better". Be available, but also be honest about what you can offer.
- Arrange a "outing for the soul"
Sometimes the person may need someone to take him / her out of their situation for a moment to appreciate something more beautiful, e.g. to walk by the sea, or drink tea in a quiet garden or park. Please ask if she / he will go along if you arrange something like this. You can offer it, but also accept if the answer is "no".
- Offer a safe place
Sometimes someone just needs to know they are welcome somewhere. For example, the person may spend time with you / in your home, but they do not need to talk. They can only "be".
- Ask if you don't know
If you do not know how to provide support, ask the person what their need is and how you can help. Even if the person cannot answer the question, it means a lot that you are interested and want to help.
- Offer practical help
Loss-affected people, especially in the beginning, do not have the energy to think about simple tasks, even if they have the time to do so. It can mean a lot if someone can look after a basic need. Again, one must always ask first and have respect for one's wishes. You can't just assume they want help.
So, for example, ask if you:
- can bring a meal;
- take the other children (if any) to school;
- fetch the maid or take them to public transport;
- wash a few bundles of laundry;
- washing the dishes;
- can make a few calls to make arrangements;
- buy groceries or pick up something from the pharmacy;
- if there are other children, you may be welcome if you can pick them up for a play date.