Grief Topic

Grief Reactions Associated with Miscarriage

A miscarriage is the unintended ending of a pregnancy. About 1 in every 5 recognised pregnancies end in miscarriage. Most miscarriages occur in the early months of pregnancy and some occur later on. Most are unexpected and come as a surprise and a shock to women and their partners. With the realisation that the pregnacy has really ended, the sense of grief and sadness can be overwhelming. However, for some women, the disappointment may not be so great.

Why does it happen?

Miscarriage can occur for medical reasons, which your doctor can talk to you about. Often there is no explanation because much is still unknown about the causes of miscarriage. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to explain anything you are uncertain about. It is important to remember that most miscarriages cannot be prevented, and that for most women a second miscarriage is unlikely.

Your loss

The loss of your pregnancy at any stage can have a big impact on you and your partner, and the family. One day you are pregnant and planning your future life with your child, and then within a short time your pregnancy ends, and all your dreams and plans are shattered.

Your grief may be even harder to bear as you have nothing to show for the pregnancy and you have no memories to grieve over. Friends and acquaintances may have been unaware of the pregnancy. With this lack of acknowledgment and the absence of memories, it may seem as if your baby never existed which can add another dimension to the feelings of loss and grief.

You may wish to find ways to remember the pregnancy eg. planting a bush or writing a poem. It is very normal to feel a range of emotions at this time.

These feelings can be very intense and may include:

  • sadness
  • anger
  • irritability
  • disbelief
  • guilt
  • confusion

You may have:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • dreams / nightmares
  • loss of appetite

It is important to remember you will recover, but you will do it in your own way and in your own time.

Male partners

Male partners as well as women also suffer the loss of dreams and plans for a future with their child. As their experience of the coming baby has been different from that of the woman, their feelings of loss and grief may also be different. Additionally, anxiety for the welfare of their partner can be of great importance.

Going home

If you need to go to hospital your stay will probably be very short. Talking to the hospital staff while in hospital may help mothers to understand what is happening physically and mentally at this time. Discussion may help to ease the feelings of the unknown. You will need time to recover both physically and emotionally. Although some women find it difficult to face everyday situations and talk to others, other women find talking about their loss can be beneficial.

Coping

  • Allow yourself time to grieve, to cry, and to talk about the emotions you feel.
  • Male partners can also experience a wide range of feelings and may be unsure how to comfort and help their partner. Remember males and females grieve differently. Talking to each other can help you to be aware of each other’s feelings.
  • Find someone you can talk to who will understand and listen.
  • You may benefit from contacting a support group (like SANDS) and talking to other parents who had had a similar experience.
  • Do not expect too much of yourself, and try to be with the people you feel most comfortable with.

Looking ahead

Future pregnancies may be anxious times although another miscarriage is generally unlikely. In a future pregnancy let others know your fears. Doctors, labour staff and family all need to know when support is needed. Remember, the grief will ease and meanwhile there are many people like doctors, social workers, SANDS members and extended family to care of they know about the pain.