Coping with Miscarriage

Learn to deal with fears, family, and friends after a loss.

Friends and Family

No matter how briefly a pregnancy lasts, a miscarriage kills hopes and dreams. Parents ache for their baby, even if they never got to hold it. The distress and depression can last for months, long after others expect the bereaved parents to feel better.

Even when the sorrow is fresh, friends and family may inadvertently trivialize the couple's loss. They unwittingly make hurtful comments: "You can always get pregnant again," or "It probably was for the best," or "A miscarriage isn't as bad as losing a child." Often it's because they simply don't know what else to say.

At the same time, friends and relatives also can offer needed encouragement and support. Just knowing that they are cared about by their friends and family helps grieving couples progress through the painful process of healing from loss.

Finding Support

At this time, couples who have "been there" say that it's important to talk to others who've suffered a similar loss. How can you find such people?

  • Ask your hospital or an organization that matches you to a trained volunteer and/or support group.
  • Ask your family doctor for a referral to a therapist who specializes in grief counseling.
  • Seek support from a spiritual counselor in your particular denomination.
  • Reach out for help through the Internet on a message board or chat devoted to pregnancy loss.

Talking with people who've also experienced pregnancy loss in a support group setting can help couples come to terms with their loss. It also teaches couples how to respond to painful comments and invasive questions.

Different Ways of Grieving

The grief-stricken couple may find themselves very confused by the way their own reactions differ. One partner may want to cry and talk a lot, while the other may withdraw and act angry.

Holding back from expressing normal feelings can make it impossible simply to embrace each other, let alone the challenge of a new pregnancy. But it's important to let each person grieve in his or her own way. If this is too difficult for one or both partners, a therapist or trusted friend can help to provide support and act as a sounding board until the partner is ready to open up.

Next: Help for Dads

Help for Dads

While much of the focus after a miscarriage is on the mother, dads hurt, too. Each man has his own style of dealing with grief or loss, as well as of coping with subsequent pregnancies. In her book When Pregnancy Isn't Perfect: A Layperson's Guide to Complications in Pregnancy (Dutton), Laurie A. Rich offers these tips for men whose partners have lost a baby:

  • Talk it over with a clergy person, a professional counselor, or someone else to whom you feel close.
  • Don't feel you have to tough it out -- ask your family and friends for their help.
  • Don't treat your partner like an invalid -- you need her support every bit as much as she needs yours.
  • Acknowledge your fear. It's natural.
  • Lighten your load. If you can afford it, take some time off work, and hire help around the house.
  • Make time for yourself. Jog, work out at the gym, read a book or newspaper, or see a movie. Do something to help take you away from your grief, even if it's just for an hour or two.

Remember that the grief process takes time, and can't be rushed. You've suffered a loss. Be good to yourself, and your partner, during your period of healing. Don't pressure yourself, let go of feelings of guilt or blame, and seek support from people who understand and care about you.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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