Trial by Fire: 9 Tips for Grieving Couples

Father’s Day can put a strain on grieving couples.

Father’s Day can stir a mix of emotions after a miscarriage. Fathers and Mothers can be affected by the event – which can be a painful reminder of loss.

You will often hear that grief and loss bring couples together, but it can actually do just the opposite. It is possible to emerge on the other side of grief with a closer marriage, but it does take work.
Here are some tips adapted from the book “Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Infant Death” that can help your marriage survive the stress of loss:
1. Give each other the freedom to grieve in an individual way. Resist the temptation to feel that your way is the only way to handle loss. Do not be fooled if it seems that your spouse has not been affected by the loss.
2. Remember the good times. Think about activities you enjoy as a couple and make time to do them- even if you do not feel up to it yet.
3. Expect tough times. Be tolerant with your mate and understand that you are both going to fail each other during this turbulent time.
4. Do not lash out at one another. In a weakened state of grief, this will only push you apart. Find constructive ways to release the stress and anger of grief.
5. Prepare for change. Loss and grief change people and it will change the face of your marriage. Decide together that this trial will bring you closer and commit to your relationship.
6. Reach out. Resist the urge to spend time away from your mate or reach out to others who better understand your grief.
7. Avoid placing blame. Tossing accusations at your spouse will only place a wedge in your relationship. Understand that feelings of guilt, anger, and confusion are normal during this time.
8. Love each other. Be sure to offer the hugs, cuddling, and love that each partner needs to feel secure and supported. Be sure to resume your physical relationship as soon as possible.
9. Seek information and support.
Educate yourselves on grief and try to understand one another. If you are having difficulties resolving your grief as a couple and you feel your marriage is in trouble, get help immediately! Do not wait until it is too late to seek help.
There are no easy answers for couples dealing with pregnancy loss. It is crucial that you make the decision to put your marriage first and then do it!
Lisa Church is author of “Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Infant Death” and founder of HopeXchange, a company dedicated to helping women and their families facing miscarriage.

Join a Special LIVE Chat on Grieving During Mother’s Day!

We have our May live FaceBook chat set for May 10th 8:30 p.m. EST/5:30 PST for a Mother’s Day special. We know how hard the day is for grieving mother’s, so that’s why we reached out to some of the most respected grief and baby loss experts around.
 
We will have Sherokee Ilse a International Bereavement Educator/Speaker and author of Empty Arms. Lyn Prashant,Ph.D.,F.T. specializing in Integrative Grief Therapy and author of The Art of Transforming Grief: The Degriefing Manual. Lisa Church from HopeXchange and author of Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Infant Death. And Perry-Lynn Moffitt co-author of A Silent Sorrow: Pregnancy Loss and counselor of bereaved mothers and fathers through the Pregnancy Loss Support Program. We hope that you can join us! XO Michelle
 

HopeXchange Community: I will be a part of this special live event and I would love to chat with you there!! Lisa

Remembering Your Baby: Your Past, Your Future

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is a great time to remember and memorialize your baby. Here are some tips we share each year at this time, adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.

There are countless ways to remember and honor your baby. No matter how much time has passed since your miscarriage, it is never too late to memorialize your child.

You can find comfort and healing by incorporating your baby’s memory into your life. Here are some suggestions:

Create a memory box. Include any mementos you may have from your baby. A positive pregnancy test, a toy, stuffed animal or outfit you bought for the baby (if you do not have one, then buy one). Anything you may have that reminds you of your pregnancy or your baby can be included, even if you just have a few things.

Make a donation in your baby’s name. Publicly acknowledge your child by making a charitable donation, or give something to a needy child that is the same age your child would have been now. Also consider submitting an article or poem about your baby to a newspaper or magazine.

Make something for the baby such as a quilt, a painting, a cross stitch, an outfit, a piece of pottery or furniture.

Buy a piece of jewelry that symbolizes your baby. Your baby’s birthstone, or an engraved necklace with your baby’s name can be good choices.

Plant a tree or garden in memory of your baby. You may even choose a houseplant or indoor tree. Decorate the tree at special times of the year to remember your baby.

Add your baby to the family tree. If you named your baby, add him or her permanently to the family by including the baby in your family tree.

Donate baby items that you may have bought or received to a worthy charity. You may also do this in your baby’s name.

Have a celebration each year on your baby’s birthday or due date.

Include your baby in the hospital’s Remembrance Book. Most hospitals have a remembrance book, and even if your baby did not die in a hospital, you can contact the Chaplin at your local hospital.

Light a candle for the baby every evening until you feel you do not need to anymore. After that, burn it once a month, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, or on special anniversaries.

Remembering your baby is a very personal thing. There is no right or wrong way to honor your child. Taking the time to memorialize your baby will bring you closure and comfort as your move through your grief, and work toward recovery.

9/11: A Time to Remember

We all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing as the horrific events of 9/11 began to unfold. Ten years later, these memories are as fresh and vivid as the day they occurred. I was attending a corporate business meeting in Sgt Bluff, Iowa on that unforgettable day. I often traveled for my job, but this trip would be a very different one- one that ripped me from my husband and 6-month old baby at the worst possible time. I found myself half way across the country from my home – stranded, scared for my country and alone.

It was my great fortune to partner with a beloved co-worker for the long journey home. Flying was no option, so we quickly got permission to keep my rental car and began a “Thelma & Louise” style trip- minus the cliff diving of course. We bought a disposable camera and a map and set off on a two and half day trek from the middle of the country to the coast of the Mid-Atlantic.

Thinking back on all of this, it strikes me that 9/11 began a time of incredible grief in our nation. And just like any other kind of grief, we have been going through the healing process ever since. Today marks the 10-year anniversary of this tragedy and a milestone in our healing- a decade of handling our grief.

For those of us dealing with the loss of miscarriage, we have faced this type of grief. The deep, intense wonder if things will ever right themselves, if we will find the happiness we seek. Ten years after 9/11 our nation has moved on, but we are forever changed. We may not feel the daily sting of the events, but we will always remember the pain.

Miscarriage and loss is no different. Although we move on with our lives, we are forever changed. However, I hope like our nation, you may each find the hope and peace you are looking for.

“In Motion” or Emotion? How Men and Women Grieve Differently

 Men and women often find themselves feeling alone during grief because nature (and society) has equipped us to handle it so differently. These differences can make it harder to connect during the times we need it most, so we must work to understand one another.
 
Men
 
 When facing loss, men generally put their feelings into action. They often experience their pain physically rather than emotionally. A man may tend to focus on goal-oriented tasks that require thinking and action. For this reason, he may put his efforts into planting a memorial garden or writing a eulogy.
 
In other cultures, men have been noted as using rituals to relieve the pain of anger or grief. Physical ceremonies such as shooting bows and arrows have been observed as outlets for grief and sorrow.
 
Activity can give men a sense of control and accomplishment as they experience grief. Even if he decides to share details of his loss with friends, it may likely be during shared activities such as fishing or sporting events.
 
Men will often react to the stress of grief by exhibiting behavior that scientist refer to as “fight-or-flight.” This type of reaction means that individuals who are confronted with stress will either react aggressively (“fight”), or withdraw or flee from the situation (“flight”).
 
A man will often allow himself to cry during grief, but he will usually do so alone, or even in the dark. This may lead other family members to believe that he is not grieving at all.
 
Women
 
In general, our society teaches women that it is acceptable for them to be open with their feelings. They will often feel a greater need to talk with others and share their emotions with supportive friends and family members.
 
In many cases, women seek non-judgmental listeners who are comfortable with a show of emotion. This provides them with an outlet for the grief they are feeling.
 
Women often respond to the stress of grief with a reaction called “tend-and-befriend.” This means that they may feel compelled to protect or nurture their children or others (“tend”) and seek out social contact and support from others (“befriend”). For this reason, women may have the desire to join a support group, while men, on the other hand, generally do not.
 
Even with our society’s ability to accept strong emotions and feelings from women, it is typical for our culture to criticize them as they deal with grief. All too often, women are said to be too sentimental or even ‘weak’ when they are seen expressing the painful emotions of grief. This causes some women to feel the need to suppress their feelings, or believe that they are failing to be ‘strong.’ However, it is often found that women are experiencing the grief- feeling the pain, while others around may be avoiding grief work.
 
 The above information was adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.