I'm a Grief Therapist, and This Is How I Help Patients Grieve Their Miscarriage

Getting through a miscarriage can be very difficult. A grief therapist offers five ways to help people through the process.

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As a grief therapist in private practice, many people come to me in the depths of loss. The truth is, no one can ever be prepared for the loss of a child, and the enormity of the emotions that follow can be deeply personal, complicated, and isolating.

Many people who come to see me after a miscarriage feel a sense of discomfort with their grief since they had never met their baby. But this does not make the grief any less real or overwhelming. Allowing the feelings that come up to be felt is an essential part of the healing journey.

It's also important to know that although people view grief as something that follows the loss of a person, there are many different types of grief. Pregnancy loss is a culmination of little losses beyond the major loss itself. Grieving a miscarriage can involve grieving the expectations made during the pregnancy, the role of parent to this specific child, the identity of parenthood itself, as well as a person's private hopes and dreams.

The most important thing to remember is that you do not have to go through this loss alone. Read on for advice I give to people who come to see me for therapy after experiencing a miscarriage.

Feel Your Feelings

A miscarriage is a traumatic loss. It can lead to depression, anxiety, guilt, agitation, irritability, and numbness. In a 2015 study published in The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, researchers found that nearly 20% of those who experienced a miscarriage developed depression or anxiety, and their symptoms persisted for one to three years.

There may, at times, be an inclination to push away the feelings or manage other people's reactions around your pregnancy loss. It is also common to have fear and anxiety around getting pregnant again after a miscarriage. Your feelings are valid and important, and they need to be felt. You don't have to care for or manage the emotions of all those around you right now—you're allowed to put your feelings first.

Allow Yourself to Be Cared For

It's important that you don't rush back into a routine or feel you must carry the full load of your life during this time. That's especially true if your body is still healing after a miscarriage. In addition, you may feel like you're on a roller coaster of emotions, which can be heightened by fluctuating hormones.

So, if you can rely on other people for support, as hard as it may be, try to accept it. If you have people around you who can cook, bring food, care for your other children, do the laundry, or do any other chore around the house, this is the time to ask for the help.

The less energy you must pour into chores, the more effort that can go toward your rest and recovery.

Integrate the Loss Into Your Life

In my therapy practice, I believe in continuing the relationship with a loss if the parents are open to it. It doesn't matter how long you were pregnant; you still built a relationship with your baby during your pregnancy.

Honoring your baby's time with you and having the baby be a part of your story is integral to the grieving and healing process. I like to have my clients write letters or create something personal and meaningful that can be seen as a continuation and honoring of the baby's presence. This can have a powerful effect on moving forward, not without, but with the baby's memory along with you.

If you have other kids, talking with them and exploring feelings about the loss can help them process the experience and help to preserve the connection to the baby that the entire family was welcoming together.

Connect With Others Who Can Relate

Processing traumatic grief, such as a miscarriage, doesn't have to be a solitary experience. Your feelings deserve to be witnessed by people who can help to carry the weight of the loss.

Although it can come in your own time, sharing can help alleviate the burden of immense grief. In addition, sharing your pregnancy loss with others can have a normalizing effect and help unburden you from carrying the weight of your grief alone.

Talk to a Professional

I am always an advocate of reaching out to a trusted therapist who can support, guide, and be an ally in your grief journey. If your feelings become overwhelming, it all feels like too much to bear, or if you find yourself isolating and feeling alone in your experience, I recommend reaching out to a professional.

If you have a partner, this may also be a time you talk with someone together, as they may also be struggling with grief and feeling helpless alongside you.

For access to in-person therapy, you can search Psychology Today, an electronic database of mental health professionals that can be searched by location, sliding scale pricing, and specialty.

If you find yourself having a hard time finding someone available or a good fit, there are some virtual therapy options. For example, Better Help offers individual online therapy, and Cerebral offers therapy as well as tools to manage medications. However, online therapy has pros and cons—while it's convenient, sessions are often short, and the cost may be high.

The Bottom Line

If you have been going through a miscarriage loss, you don't have to go through the grief alone. The emotional experience of a miscarriage is different for everyone, so process your feelings in your own way and at your own pace.

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