Why we need to talk about pregnancy and infant loss - Breaking the silence
Pregnancy and infant loss are heartbreaking losses that often go unnoticed
Pregnancy and infant loss is the loss of an expected life. A parent may lose a pregnancy through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, premature birth, stillbirth, fertility difficulties or a complicated and difficult pregnancy.
Pregnancy and infant loss are heartbreaking losses that often go unnoticed or misunderstood by those around us.
The relationship with your child begins long before they are born. It begins when you start planning to grow your family. It begins with the joy at the positive test, when you start to think of and plan all the things you will do when your baby arrives.
The hopes, dreams and expectations you had for the future with your child began long before your heartache. You miss your child for the things you didn’t do together.
Each person’s journey and experience is unique to them and you deserve to be heard. You deserve to be heard without feeling judged and without feeling embarrassed, and without worrying what others may think.
Grieving and common feelings
When a child dies it is devastating, you may experience profound effects of shock and trauma due to the sudden nature of the death.
Whatever your thoughts and feelings, your grief is a deeply personal experience, no matter how long ago or recent your loss. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Your raw emotions and shock may lead you to feel both physical and psychological symptoms of grief.
Sense of guilt
Difficulties in sleeping
Loss of appetite
Difficulty in making decisions
Listen to your body
You know your body, try and listen to it. If you need to cry - allow yourself to cry, if you need to sleep - sleep, if you need a duvet day - take one. Allow yourself time to feel and process your grief. Allow yourself space to grieve, take each moment as it comes. Don’t set yourself high expectations, give yourself credit if you managed a shower and got through the day.
Try to remember the positive experiences
Try to remember the positive experiences you had with your baby.
Each moment you carried them, each moment you shared with them, each moment you had together was yours and can never be replaced, these moments are yours.
Talk about your loss
Talking about the death of your child, can for some, be a great help. Talk to those around you. Tell them of your pain, have open and honest conversations with them and share how difficult this journey is for you, how you feel and why you feel that way.
Men and women grieve in different ways
As a couple you may be grieving the same loss, however, you may both be expressing your grief very differently. Perhaps you are very open with your emotions, wanting to share how you feel, to talk about the loss, maybe your partner appears to be ‘coping’ very well and just ‘getting on with it’. This may cause you to feel that they have no empathy or understanding of how you are feeling.
Your partner may, on the outside, appear to be getting on with life but it could be they are pushing down their feelings and emotions, giving the appearance that they are coping when in reality they are not.
Many men have, over the years, been brought up to hide their emotions, to be strong, be the man of the house, not to cry. Some men can struggle to cope when faced with their partner’s emotions and tears, not sure of what to say or do. Men will often choose to grieve alone and actively keep themselves busy to distract from their grief. This doesn’t mean they don’t feel their grief, they react in a different way.
How to support each other
Talk to each other, this may not be as easy as it sounds, be patient. Share with each other how you are feeling, by starting the conversation you may encourage your partner to share and to understand they are not alone and that it is ok for them to feel sad, or angry. Grief is normal, grief is natural and grief is emotional.
This can be harder than you think. It is a skill to really sit and listen without interrupting. Really show you are listening, stop whatever it is that you are doing and sit together. You may think you know how your partner is feeling but the truth is you don’t, you are not them. It can feel awkward just sitting there and it is so tempting to make it a two way conversation, to interrupt or to try and fix things, but by really listening you will both feel heard.
You may feel that after the death of your child no one can help with any of your feelings, but emotional support and guidance to let go of those thoughts, the anxiety, unmet hopes and dreams may help you to keep going. There are many support groups and organisations where you can talk about your fears and emotions with others who have shared your experience in a safe supportive space.
If you would like to contact me for further details of how I can support you through this difficult time then please do contact me.
Jill Attree is a Advanced Grief Recovery Method Specialist, based in Dorset. Jill has helped grievers throughout the UK by listening without judgement, analysis or criticism - so that you can move forward through your loss. To help you create a brighter tomorrow. Find out more about Jill.