Pregnancy Loss Grief: Unveiling the Layers
Guest Post: Pregnancy Loss is a layered, complex grief.
Part of the struggle of coming to terms with Pregnancy Loss is the mismatch between common perceptions of pregnancy loss and the reality.
Common perceptions of those who haven't experienced it:
❌ Early pregnancy loss is just a bit of bleeding
❌ Early pregnancy loss only takes a day or 2 then it's over
❌ It was just a 'bunch of cells'
❌ You never knew the baby so it's not that big a deal
❌ Once you've had another baby, the previous losses don't matter any more
❌ It’ll be too painful for them to talk about, so I won’t ask...
I wonder what else you have heard, or perhaps thought yourself before experiencing it?
In reality, this is what some of the layers of grief look like – and you may have more:
💜 Deep grief for the life lost, however early in the pregnancy it was
💜 Loss of trust in your own body
💜 Dissociation from your body, your feelings
💜 Dissociation from your self: loss of your self-identity
💜 Grief for the destabilising nature of dealing with trauma - both physical, emotional and mental
💜 Loss of friends both from insensitive comments and from choosing to withdraw from those who are pregnant
💜 Grief when others invalidate your feelings and experience
💜Grieving loss of connection – often pregnancy & baby loss leaves people feeling incredibly isolated
💜 Loss of happiness and joy in others' pregnancy announcements
💜 Loss of innocence
💜 Loss of enjoyment of pregnancy - pregnancy after loss usually comes with high anxiety 😕
💜 Sadness at the school gates seeing other's families
💜 Sadness at the start of a school year when a child that was lost would have been starting Reception
💜 Grief for loss of health if the fertility journey has exposed a condition you didn't previously know of
💜 Grief for loss of certainty - that you thought you knew how the world worked
💜 Grief for loss of your dreams and that your life has not worked out the way you thought it would when younger
💜 Grief for the loss of peace - anxiety is often high after pregnancy loss, especially if pregnant again
💜 Grief for the loss of the parent you thought you would be - both to those children that are no longer here and to any you do have. So much of my emotional energy has been bound up in the losses that it does impact my ability to parent.
💜 Grief for the impact it has had on your relationship with your other half.
💜 For those who have had one child and hoped for more, grief at the fact your child is growing up without a sibling.
And of course, grief itself is a multi-layered emotion, encompassing a whole range of other emotions. Including many of the so-called ‘Ugly Feelings’ – it can be a shock to feel yourself experiencing these, although they are COMPLETELY normal and human.
The grief journey however, can also be powerfully transformative. While this can take work and does not happen overnight, there is a strange richness that grief can bring, including:
💛 Pride in having come through this far
💛 Wider understanding of the complexities of our emotional world
💛 Deeper self-development
💛 A closer connection to your authentic self through understanding and voicing your own vulnerabilities & discovering those who accept you with them
💛 Rich and meaningful friendships with other baby loss parents
💛 For some, a deeper sense of purpose – maybe a change of direction to doing something more aligned to your values
💛 A closer connection to your partner
There are grief specialists who can help with navigating this journey and helping you to move from feeling isolated and lost to a place of acceptance and resilience. While the grief and loss never leave us, we can begin to see them as necessary, and even beautiful, darker threads, in the tapestry pattern of our lives.
Fiona Murray is a Baby Loss Mum and a strong advocate for providing women who have experienced secondary infertility & recurrent miscarriage the proper emotional support needed for their journey of grief, trauma and pregnancy loss so that they can rebuild their self-identity and embrace life again after such devastating losses. You can learn more about Fiona on LinkedIn here.
Cover photo credit: © Teresa Mairal Barreu, TeresaDownUnder of Sewn up.