Miscarriages aren’t often talked about, even though they are more common than you might expect. Between 10-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, meaning a vast number of women suffer from the emotional and heartbreaking effects of miscarriage.
While there used to be an attitude of encouraging mothers to move on and try again, this insensitive train of thought has received much criticism in the wake of the mothers’ experiences. For many, miscarriage can be a traumatic situation causing both husband and wife to go through the stages of grief as they mourn the loss of their little one.
The emotional response to miscarriage
For a mother who has experienced a miscarriage, it’s common that a number of emotions will arise. She may blame herself for the loss of her baby, even if it was entirely out of her control. She may feel guilt, believing that there was something more she could have done.
Feelings of shock, anger and depression, as well as anxiety in regards to future pregnancies, are all highly common and can leave a mother feeling incredibly overwhelmed from the surge of emotions. Additionally, the hormones the body produces as it readjusts to not being pregnant can further intensify and aggravate one’s emotional state.
Coping with a miscarriage
There’s no one-size-fits-all method of recovering from a miscarriage. The stages of grief take time to manifest, meaning the healing process takes time for the couple to go through. However, to ease the process, certain healthy coping mechanisms can be implemented.
Men and women respond differently to crisis situations, with women often becoming more emotional and men often trying to fix the problem. With a miscarriage, however, there is little “fixing” to be done.
Men have the unique opportunity to talk with their wives, allowing her to feel and work through the full scope of her emotions, and support her by taking the initiative in other ways like keeping up with household chores or helping with the other kids.
Understand your grief
The stages of grief are not linear, nor are they often talked about in regard to miscarriage. The grief felt in regards to a miscarriage is different than other forms of grief as you are grieving the loss of what could have been – you grieve the chance to be a mother, the chance to meet your baby.
Knowing the stages of grief and understanding how and why you’re experiencing them can help you through and give you the courage to keep persevering. This knowledge won’t take away the pain, but it can at least provide some answers to the question of “Why am I feeling this way?” and “Is this a normal response?”
Let go of other’s opinions
A miscarriage is personal and traumatic, and something others will have a hard time comprehending if they have never gone through it themselves. There’s nothing inherently wrong with their lack of understanding, but it is important that you do not let it get to you.
The opinions of other people matter little when you’re suffering. They might project how they think the best way to grieve is, or how soon you should try again – while these comments are hard to take, know that they don’t matter. All that matters during this time is that you’re taking the steps you need to take to heal and recover in whatever timeline or manner that looks like for you.
Don’t keep it a secret
This does not mean go post about what happened on every social media platform or telling everyone from your co-workers to the gas station clerk.
This means that you should tell the people close to you what happened. You could go into detail if that’s helpful for your grieving process, or you could simply say, “I don’t want to talk much about it, I just wanted you to understand why I don’t feel like myself right now.” You never know: opening up could motivate unexpected (and needed) support from others.
Seek out a counselor
Counseling can definitely help anyone handling a miscarriage – husband, wife or other children. Counselors can offer healthy coping mechanisms, a safe space in which to talk and process what happened and self-discovered motivation to continue on and embrace the grieving process.
A counselor isn’t going to reverse the past or heal the wounds, but they can put you back on a path toward mental health and recovery following the trauma of a miscarriage.
If you are suffering from the effects of a miscarriage and are seeking additional support as you grieve, consider The Light Program. Our staff of therapists can offer recovery strategies and support to both yourself and your family during this challenging time. To learn more, give us a call at (610)-644-6464 or contact us anytime via our website.