Imagine the flutter in one’s stomach when a positive pregnancy test appears for the first time. The mind instantly rushes in a million directions, palms begin to sweat, and tears or squeals may immediately follow.
The mind is overwhelmed with thoughts and questions:
Will it be a boy or a girl?
Will it be a butterfly nursery or a train nursery?
Will we use cloth diapers or disposable diapers?
Will the baby have any medical conditions?
Will he or she make it full term safely?
The moment one finds out a new life is growing and preparing to enter the world, everything changes.Imagine a woman feeling her body respond to the pregnancy; feeling a sudden shift as her body prepares to grow and house a precious life. Perhaps she has been flooded with bouts of morning sickness and is only comforted by crackers and thoughts of a healthy growing baby. Now, imagine she has had an ultrasound and already fallen in love with the little peanut, only to find out days, weeks, or months later that her body has terminated the unhealthy pregnancy.
She is overcome with emotions, physical ailments, and constant reminders that this precious little life will never:
- Feel the warmth of a mother
- Be dedicated and raised in the church
- Display a toothless grin to their parents for the very first time
- Attend Kindergarten and take first day of school pictures on the infamous black chalkboards
- Play soccer and score their first goal as family members excitedly fill the stands and clap even if the child scores on the wrong goal
- Fall in love with a high school sweetheart
- Graduate from college
- Land a dream job
Perhaps the pregnancy was thoughtfully and creatively announced to parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and the entire circle of family and friends, only to have to break the news that future hopes, plans, and dreams are lost and broken.
On the other hand, maybe the mother is keeping the news to herself and someone unknowingly asks, “When are you planning to have a baby?”, only to feel the floodgates of her heart open and grief suddenly succumb an already tired, weepy, and shattered soul.
The emotional roller coaster is different for everyone experiencing a miscarriage; however, those who are grieving need to be supported and allow the shattered parts of their heart to be pieced back together. It is as if pieces of glass are wedged intricately into different parts of one’s emotions. One quick tug or push in the wrong direction can increase the pain and shatter the progress that has been made.
Steps for Coping with Miscarriage
First, don’t downplay the emotional turmoil that is occurring.
It is important for the person experiencing loss to be heard, seen, and validated. It is important to realize that heartache cannot be given a timeline as to when the healing is complete, or to assume that grief should be less based on circumstance.
For example, someone experiencing miscarriage at only 8 weeks of pregnancy does not mean that the heart aches less than for one who carried closer to term. Loss at 8 weeks, 13 weeks, or 20 weeks is life-altering and can be earth-shattering for the person experiencing it.
When trying to cope with miscarriage, it is important to realize that the griever cannot always articulate what they are feeling and may feel guilty about their emotions. For many, it is the first time experiencing this form of loss.
Some hibernate, fall into pits of despair, bottle up their emotions, and feel as if they cannot find a way to crawl out of their inner turmoil or sense of hopelessness. They isolate themselves because they don’t want to bother anyone. They blame themselves. They want the silent cries to cease.Grievers may fear judgment because this form of loss is often made to be a “normal” thing. It may happen frequently, but it is not something a woman can just forget or quickly move on from. When a woman finds out she is with child, she is a mother, regardless of what happens.
Others may find it easier to express what they are feeling. They may become sad, angry, quiet, or blame themselves. They may socially or emotionally withdrawal, cry, or uncontrollably sob often. They may become frustrated as they picture what life would have been. Grievers may experience triggers when they enter the hospital where the doctor conducted a D & C to remove the deceased baby’s remains.
They may be reminded when they enter the bathroom where they first realized what was happening. Their legs may become limp and their heart begin to palpitate as they replay lying on the floor crying, trying to process the loss that was occurring. Women also etch into their minds the expected due dates of their children, so regardless of whether that child is physically on this earth, that date will forever be imprinted on their heart.
Second, know that healing takes time and the pieces might not fit perfectly back together again.
Healing can occur for those experiencing loss, but life alters. Views change, priorities may shift, but memories remain. Imagine spending hours upon hours putting together a puzzle but having one piece missing. The picture is intact and can be visualized, but that one missing piece leaves the puzzle incomplete. The same can be said of grief and loss. The heart can be fully functioning and pieced back together again, but something inside is forever changed.
Third, stay connected and don’t let emotions or comments fester.
It is important to stay connected when experiencing loss. It is imperative to have a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on more than once, a tongue to speak truth and encouragement, and hearts that are receptive to the good times and the bad.
It is vital for one experiencing or harboring emotional turmoil to stay connected with others who can tag along for the grief journey – being supportive through the highs and the lows, without judgment of progress or the length of the mourning process.
It is important not to compare one grief journey with another, but to take it one step at a time. A major stepping stone to healing involves letting one’s story be unique; don’t compare tragedies with someone else. Let the story be told and written in its own way.
It is healthy to accept the loss and talk openly about the inner turmoil. Don’t let the negative comments of others fester. Not all people understand miscarriage grief; to some, it is just a number, while to others who have walked it, it is a chapter that completely rewrote their personal narrative.
Miscarriage is a difficult journey that opens the heart in new and unexpected ways. It is vital to seek the necessary help, to be unafraid to share one’s story, and to realize that one cannot let their emotions stay bottled up.
It is important not to live in a place of blame, denial, or to make oneself feel responsible for the loss. It is also necessary to not let such a loss come between partners. A couple must learn to cope together. Celebrate the child as a couple and honor the life that was lost in order to acknowledge and cope with the loss. Seek professional help as a couple.
Cry as a couple. Hold one another. Do not let the walls of grief separate or tear apart the marriage and pathways of communication. Seek God together and realize that He offers hope amidst turmoil. He offers beauty beyond the pain.
Christian Counseling for Miscarriage Grief
If you have suffered a miscarriage, help is available. Visit our online counselor directory or call our office to schedule an appointment with a Christian counselor. Having someone to talk to and help you walk through your grief will help you in your healing journey. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.
“Alone,” courtesy of Ravi Roshan, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sad”, Courtesy of _Mxsh_, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Comfort”, Courtesy of Kaitlyn Baker, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Melancholy”, Courtesy of Danielle Macinnes, Unsplash.com, CC0 License