This post was originally written on November 21, 2008.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past lately, remembering some of the hard times we have been through in our journey to conceive a child. After each loss, I would scour books and internet sites looking for advice on how to cope, but I just didn’t find very much out there. I ended up joining an online support group that helped a lot. There were instant connections with tons of other women like me going through the same things; it felt soothing to hear the kind of words I really needed at those times. I highly recommend joining an online support group if you ever have to face miscarriage or any other sort of problem you may need help with. I’m no expert, but I do have a few thoughts on the issue that I feel were paramount in my moving forward through each day with a little less pain. These were discoveries that worked for me, and I share them in hopes that they may very well help you.
1. You will need to grieve. Don’t expect to just “get over it.” You won’t. I don’t know if you ever do. The pain will start to dull (like any wound), but you will carry the event with you forever (like a scar). I don’t know how long it takes. I would burst into sudden tears over my first loss even over a year later. It still bothers me to think about it. This is the death of a most precious loved one. It is the loss of the hopes and dreams you had started to formulate for this little life. The loss of what might have been. Don’t be shy about being upset about it or needing to cry. And don’t let anyone tell you not to feel upset.
2. While it is important to grieve, do not allow yourself to lose touch with life and become entrenched in depression. There is a difference between feeling sadness from loss, and feeling unable to get out of bed every day. I slipped into a depression myself and it was a dark place to be. I just didn’t know how to feel better. I was dwelling on all negative things… feeding the beast. When I made a conscious decision to focus on only positive things, my life completely shifted and I felt light again. If you need to consult a grief counselor then do so! They are trained to help you move forward, and this is a good time to be proactive in your mental healing.
3. While grieving, please remember that your partner/husband, family, and friends are not all trained counselors. Most people have no idea of what to say to you to make you feel better. Frankly, there’s nothing to be said that can make it better. But it is easy to try and always turn to family and friends for a listening ear when you are feeling upset. After several months, they may throw up their hands in dismay and say “snap out of it!” Try and remember that while everyone cares, they simply aren’t trained to know what to say to you. You will likely hear a lot of sound-bites in attempts to make you feel better: “God works in strange and mysterious ways” is an example I heard a lot (not quite sure what this even means), or even better “at least you lost it early and you know you’ll appreciate your next pregnancy even more!” Yes, that was a gem. I guess my point is, don’t let it get to you if nobody knows what to say anymore… they do care. Again, consider an online or in-person support group or grief counselor to help you. And also, remember that for many of you: your partner is hurting too. My husband was a rock for me, showing me so much love, attention, and concern. But after several months, I hadn’t really seen him shedding tears and asking why. It took a long time before I saw him start to show those sorts of emotions; he’d just been such a strong force for me to lean on, it was harder for him to “let go” his feelings in light of that. It’s not like he could call up his buddies and just bring up the topic. I wish he’d had more of an outlet for his sad feelings. Women seem to have a much easier time talking to each other about these issues. Remember to be sensitive to your partner’s feelings as well. It’s a loss for you both! Communication makes a big difference.
4. Avoid the internet. This, for me, is the biggest piece of advice I could give. After my losses, I scoured the net looking for comfort. I looked for reasons and explanations and statistics. I read other people’s sad stories. In a nutshell: I made things so much worse for myself. I read so many horror stories that I worked myself up to tears nearly every day. I’d convinced myself that I would never have a healthy child… that I would never get pregnant and keep it. I read horrible statistics and warnings. The truth is, most people aren’t out there to write about how “everything went great.” Usually they are out there sharing their terrible stories in hopes to find kindred spirits. So, in your quest to find comfort and success stories, you will really mostly find tales of woe and heartache. The medical sites focus on clinical data and leave you feeling hopeless. Let me tell you this: You are unique. Nobody has your exact medical history and DNA. Your issues are your own. That same rule applies to everyone else. So if you read a horror story, remember that it is their story, not yours. You don’t know the full medical history of these people or what they are leaving out. In the end, surfing the net for answers and comfort only leads to tears, fear, and hopelessness (in general). I’m all for using it here or there if you want to look up basic information. But don’t spend hours and hours scouring and falling into the “web of horrors.” It took me a year and a half to turn away from the computer. Remember that negative brings more negative. I’d decided to focus on the positive in my life and that meant turning away from my beloved internet every time I felt sad and wanting “answers.” It was the best decision I’ve ever made. Avoid the seductive call of the internet! Find peace and comfort amongst humans and through your own doctor. It’s all you truly need.
5. Try to find a sense of acceptance. I know this is virtually impossible. But in life, bad things happen to us all the time. It’s all part of the cycle of living. I asked WHY!? every single day and I’ll never know the answer. It just is. Why do birds sing? Why is the earth round? There are some things that just are. And this, I feel, is one of them. I had a much easier time moving forward when I accepted my losses as a part of life, and that I will never know the reasons. Whether it is one loss or 20 losses, each one is painful and horrible. Nothing takes that away. But we move to a place of acceptance that this is what we’ve been dealt, and we must choose the path of love and peace (don’t we owe it to the little ones we lost?). In love and peace we will always find happiness.
These are just thoughts of my own on the topic… they were specific to the feelings I dealt with. Everyone is different and has different circumstances. There is no cookie cutter way of handling our feelings. But, I wanted to share my own experiences in hopes that maybe someone out there can pull something out of this entry that is useful in their own journey. My thoughts and best wishes are with you all!
How did you deal emotionally after a miscarriage?
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