Chapter 3: Other circumstances that may impact your grief

Medical termination for a life-limiting condition

The grief expert says
Carol speaks about making difficult decisions with love and compassion.(3:22)Video transcript

Ending my pregnancy was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I don’t feel bad because I made the wrong decision; I feel bad because I was forced to decide between “awful” and “horrible.”

There have been a lot of those “what-ifs” – and then breaking the cycle of the sadness, the guilt, and the “what-ifs.” You can “what-if” yourself to death.

While pregnant, you may have been told that your baby had a medical condition that would significantly limit life expectancy or quality of life if your baby survived pregnancy. As a result, you may have been left to make a decision to terminate a much-wanted pregnancy. 

These decisions are complex and can cause significant distress among parents. They are often made with the utmost care, love, and concern for your child. In this situation, you may have begun to experience feelings of grief before the loss of your baby. This is a normal response; and it does not mean that you will not continue to grieve afterwards.

This type of pregnancy loss usually adds layers of feelings and thoughts, which may include increased shock, sadness, guilt, anger, and loneliness. Click the arrows for some additional thoughts you might be experiencing.


Remember that grief is individual and includes all losses. Your grief is real and normal as you cope with the loss of your baby and the future you’d imagined.

What may help

  • It may also be helpful to remember that this very difficult situation does not change how much your pregnancy was wanted or how much you love your baby.
  • Allow your grief to include all of your thoughts and feelings, including “what-if” questions, no matter how painful. Keep in mind that these are normal.
  • Try to resist becoming more isolated; reach out to people who will support you.