After a Miscarriage: Understanding the Feelings of Those Around You
So often, when a loss feels devastating, it’s hard to imagine that others don’t experience it in the same way. But the simple truth is, even those closest to you may see things differently. You and your husband, for example, may have your own unique ways to express your grief over a miscarriage. In general, men are more action-oriented, like to focus on facts, solve problems. Because of this, you may notice that even though you might need to talk about your feelings, he may benefit from knowing specific ways he can help you, or he might be anxious to get back to work as a way of moving forward. Also consider that, if the miscarriage happened early on, the pregnancy may have been more intangible to him; he may not have shared the same emotional bond, although his grief can be just as real. Differences in intimacy needs may also need to be addressed as one of you may see it as a bridge to reconnection, while the other may recoil at its mere suggestion. Talking allows you to understand each other, and in acknowledging your differences, opens the possibility of growing closer through this shared loss.
If you have other children, take the time to tell them about what has happened in a language they can understand. Children naturally express their feelings in a variety of ways, such as drawing pictures or telling stories. Encourage this, and let them know that all their feelings are okay. If they blame themselves or express any concerns about their own mortality, reassure them. Give them the extra attention they need to feel safe.
As for others in your world, be prepared that even the most well-intentioned may unwittingly say insensitive things after a miscarriage. You may hear cliches like, “it’s for the best,“ or “you’re lucky it happened early in your pregnancy.” People may share their own loss stories or suggest you have another baby “so you can get over it.” Then there are those who will try and avoid the entire situation for fear that they are intruding, or out of concern that they may say the wrong thing. And, of course, there may be those who, without a reference of their own, don’t consider this a loss at all, and may try to diminish your sadness. Whatever the situation, remember to keep your expectations in check. Let those close to you know that this pregnancy, and its loss, was important, and perhaps ask them just to listen.
When you feel ready, consider what would be a meaningful way to honor this chapter in your life. A private ritual of some kind can be a way to say goodbye and help you to take the next step in your life. One couple I worked with planted a special tree as part of a ceremony, while they each shared the dreams they had for this child. Another woman I know wears a special piece of jewelry she purchased after her miscarriage, bearing the birthstone of the month when the child was due to be born. Remember also that this due date may be particularly difficult, and even if you’ve been feeling better, grief may return. Anticipate what might help you though the day, perhaps spending special time with your partner, or acknowledging this memory in some way.
The Circle Continues: The Courage to Try Getting Pregnant Again
The decision of when to try getting pregnant again is a deeply personal one that–aside from your doctor’s clearance–only you and your partner can make. There are some women who, shortly after a miscarriage, have a strong desire to get pregnant again; for them, this desire is healing. It is critical, however, that you do not rush headlong into another pregnancy or fertility treatment cycle while you are still actively grieving, hoping that this will erase the pain of this loss.
Instead, acknowledge that the choice to try again is a courageous one, as there may well be some challenges. It is likely that you’ll feel more vulnerable this time around, more sensitized from your past experience. You may even hesitate at first to bond with this new pregnancy for fear that you'll have another miscarriage. These are all normal reactions. In addition to monitoring this pregnancy carefully, you may find it helpful to remind yourself that the overwhelming majority of women who have a miscarriage go on to have successful pregnancies. Listen to yourself, and respect your needs and limits.
And remember, every ending carries within it the seeds of a new beginning.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2005 issue of Conceive Magazine.