It's normal to feel shock, grief, depression, guilt, anger, failure and helplessness when you lose a pregnancy. The days, weeks, and even months following a loss can be incredibly difficult and painful. If this wasn't your first pregnancy loss, or if you carefully planned this pregnancy and thought you'd done everything "right," you may feel more sad. Or you may simply feel withdrawn and moody and unable to focus or sleep. If you told people you were pregnant, you'll probably worry about announcing this news. You may find even the kindest expressions of sympathy difficult to take.
A few things to keep in mind as you work through this troubled time:
- Understand that it's not your fault. Pregnancy loss or complications can strike anyone. Talk openly and honestly with your partner about what's happened and how it's affecting you. Remember, there's no right or wrong way to deal with grief. Accept your feelings as they are and don't judge yourself or your partner for how you respond.
- Give yourself time to heal. Don't pressure yourself to get past the sadness quickly. Your healing will be more complete if you deal with your grief as it comes. You may find yourself reliving the pain, especially around your due date or other milestones. Over time, things will change and you'll feel better.
- Take time off from work. Even if you feel physically fine, taking some time away from your job may be helpful. You need a chance to process what's happened, and taking a break from your regular routine will help you acknowledge and accept all that you're going through.
- Don't expect your partner to grieve in the same way. If your partner doesn't seem to be affected by the loss as deeply as you are, understand that men and women grieve differently. While women tend to express their feelings and look for support from others, men tend to hold their feelings inside and deal with loss on their own. Likewise, men often feel they need to take care of their partners by remaining strong. So don't misread his stoicism as not caring about you or your loss and don't judge yourself for not coping as well as he does. Share your feelings and your needs with your partner but give each other the freedom to experience the loss in your own way.
- Don't close yourself off from others. Although it may seem painful to talk about, sharing your story will allow you to feel less alone and help you heal. You may be surprised by how many of your co-workers, cousins, neighbors, and friends have their own stories of loss and healing. And you may find understanding and support from unexpected people — which can help make up for the fact that some people you expected to understand don't seem to get how much you're hurting. Someone who hasn't gone through what you're going through really can't know what it's like. Most people want to say something comforting but don't know what to say. Try not to take it personally if they say the wrong thing or nothing at all.
- Get support. Ask your doctor or midwife about pregnancy-loss support groups in your community. It may take a while to find one that suits you, so don't get discouraged if you don't like the first one you try. Find out in advance about the people in the group to see if you'll fit in. (Have most of them had early or late miscarriages? Is it a group coping primarily with stillbirths?) You may also want to seek out a professional counselor to help you grapple with the difficult emotions you're experiencing right now and, ultimately, to come to terms with your grief.