Chapter 2: Grief after pregnancy or infant loss
We have a close, amazing family, who live nearby, and I also have wonderful friends. But they haven’t been through this... It's so isolating. I feel like the odd one out.
I saw how much pain they were in, and I really wanted to help but I didn’t know what to do or say. So I said nothing, but I think that may have been worse. They must have been heartbroken.
If your family or friends do not recognize or understand the extent of your grief, you are likely to feel very alone. You may even wonder if there is something wrong with you for feeling the way that you do. When you feel conflicted about your experience and what you are hearing from others, you may have thoughts such as, “If everyone thinks I should feel better, why don’t I?” Click on the arrows to see some examples of additional thoughts.
Am I “going crazy” because my emotions are still so intense?
Why would I talk to someone who will tell me I “shouldn’t feel this way”?
Why would I tell my friends how I really feel if they are going to make me feel worse?
If people don’t know about your lossYour sense of social isolation may be increased if others don’t know that you were pregnant or that your baby has died. Or you may struggle with how to respond to certain questions. Click the arrows to see examples.
When did you have your baby?
How is your baby?
If people do knowFriends and family members, especially those who are pregnant or have young children, may find it hard to say the right thing. Although not intended to be hurtful, their statements can leave you feeling that the loss of your baby is somehow less important than other kinds of loss, and that your grief is out of proportion. Click the arrows to see some examples of these types of comments.
At least you found out about the genetic problems now.
At least the baby didn’t die after they were born.
At least you’re healthy and can have another baby.
Everything happens for a reason.
This was God’s plan.
God only gives us what we can handle.
What may help
Acknowledge that your grief is a normal and healthy response to this very difficult thing that has happened to you, regardless of spiritual beliefs; the age of your baby who has died; whether or not you have other children; or whether the pregnancy was planned or unplanned.
Reach out for help from support groups or professional counsellors if you’re not getting the support that you need, or if you are dealing with difficult or conflicting feelings.
Keep in mind that some people may not understand your grief or be able to support you. Consider which people to ask for support and which to “take a break from,” even for a short while.
Remember that just because someone else doesn’t understand your grief, it doesn’t make it less real.