Normally, following the death of a family member, we would expect support to come from those closest to us. Miscarriage is unusual in that we often find the most comfort comes from other women who we are not necessarily close to. If they have experienced miscarriage, hopefully they will have dealt with it in a healthy way, even if it took some time. Their empathy and reassurance can be invaluable.
Sometimes there can also be a “gradient of grief” to be aware of if their recovery wasn’t later followed by a healthy child or for some other reason. Especially if their loss occurred toward the end of 20 weeks, nearer a stillbirth timeframe, they then may feel they have more entitlement to their depth of grief than others who had miscarried earlier. The individual suffering of anyone’s grief however cannot be measured by others, as each is unique with its own set of circumstances and previous history of loss.
‘You don’t have to be grateful that it isn’t worse. Somebody, somewhere has always had it worse than you and that person is not the only one who is allowed to be unhappy with their lot. If things are bad for you, they are bad for you. There is no ranking system for which traumas are better or worse. That is minimizing or diminishing a situation, creating a hierarchy of trauma. Your trauma is valid. Believe it.’ Important Truths.
You may not be thinking with your usual clarity, especially with a body flooded with extra hormones, the trauma of grief, plus the feeling that your whole world has just shockingly shattered. Your normal voice of reason may be on holiday, so please consider the following when telling family, friends and co-workers, what has happened:
- Choose the timing. The head space someone is in is important as they may be too busy, be having a rough time themselves or the timing is totally inappropriate. Probably it is best to do it in person when possible, otherwise you risk not getting the support and comfort you hope for. Your news needs to be heard in a sacred space. Remember they will be in shock too.
- Choose carefully who you tell. Your friends etc. may not have had an experience close to what you are going through and don’t understand it is the most important thing in your life. Unfortunately, they will probably still feel the need to say something even when they know there is nothing that can be said that will make you feel any better, however well-intentioned. They will probably be trying to fill the void of silence or even make themselves feel better. See ‘a letter to my friend who has never lost a baby‘.
- Choose to assume the best intent, especially when it comes out wrong or you take it badly. Even from partners. Otherwise you will hurt yourself further and the grief process will take longer.
- When you can reasonably manage it, forgive them as best you can which will free yourself too. We often have friends for different reasons. To make it easier for you, think about the areas you best appreciate them for.
- For the practical ones, tell them what you need, whether it is just for silence or time away to grieve, to be heard, the washing or shopping done or the odd meal prepared.
- Even though medical professionals have training, they don’t always say the right things either and their levels of compassion can wane over the years for any number of reasons. Do not take this personally. It will slow down your healing time and remember – everybody grieves in their own time and way and you do not need theirs or anyone’s permission to grieve.
Ultimately, it is each individual person’s experience with stress and loss, or lack of it, that will dictate their healthy recovery period from the shock and consequences of a miscarriage. So only you will know what your needs may be around grief and what steps you feel are appropriate to take to heal.
The following counselling guidelines are to help you make that decision along with a combined conclusion from our group. After experiencing miscarriage ourselves, we expected a time-frame of up to 6 months of diminishing pain before we made a healthy recovery on our own, and felt reasonably normal enough to laugh again. And try again.
“Don’t think you have failed because you decide to see a counsellor. Recognising you need help in certain situations is good judgement.”
Please see miscarriage counselling.
Support on the internet
(also see other websites, video, articles and recommended books)
Miscarriage Support’s facebook page – a closed group that you can join
Honored Babies – online Memorial, a support email list and a comprehensive list of resources grouped by several categories.
SPALS – (Support for pregnancy after loss)
Google newsgroup – soc.support.pregnancy.loss is a Moderated forum for discussing all aspects of pregnancy loss. Its objective is to provide support and information for everyone experiencing or concerned about the trauma of miscarriage, (including blighted ovum), ectopic pregnancy, therapeutic terminations, still birth or neo-natal death. Postings should be supportive and non-judgemental.
The following are examples of topics appropriate to this newsgroup:
- Causes of pregnancy loss.
- Monitoring pregnancy and preventing miscarriage (where possible).
- Risks for subsequent pregnancies.
- Coping with fear in subsequent pregnancies.
- Grieving for our lost babies.
- What to say (and not to say) about pregnancy loss.
- Deciding to terminate a pregnancy when an abnormality is detected.
- Funerals and remembrance.
- Deciding to continue a pregnancy when an abnormality is detected.
- Deciding what to do when the baby has died but the pregnancy continues.
- Organisations that can help. Most importantly, this newsgroup functions as an on-line support group, a place to tell our stories and receive support from people who have been through similar experiences.
All criticism about choices made when faced with pregnancy loss are unwelcome. Unsupportive posts concerning therapeutic terminations, as well as posts debating the moral, ethical and political implications of abortion, will not be approved by the moderators under any circumstances. Flames, all pyramid selling and “get rich quick” schemes, and postings of a commercial nature (although posters will be free to recommend or criticise commercial products on a personal basis), are also unwelcome and will not be approved for posting.