Something very painful happened in my family this week that resulted in a huge loss. I got the news in the middle of a Birthday party. During a fun celebration of life, I heard that someone had tragically died. Your first instincts when something terrible happens is just to avoid it- don’t think about it, talk about it or face the deep feelings of sorrow that are swirling around just below the surface.
But the truth is, there is no way to avoid feeling the pain of grief. There are not short cuts, no secrets to getting around it- you must feel the pain of grief to move through it. Everyone has heard the saying “No pain, no gain.” This is particularly true when dealing with grief. Allow yourself to feel the emotions and pain of your loss, so you can move on.
Here are some suggestions to help you experience the pain of grief:
- Give yourself permission to grieve, and lean on others when you need too. Allow yourself to feel and express your emotions.
- Learn about miscarriage and grief, and read stories about others facing loss. You can visit the local bookstore, library, or even go online. Visit HopeXchange at: http://www.HopeXchange.com and see the list of websites on the Resource page.
- Talk with others facing pregnancy loss, go online, or join a support group. A list of support groups can be found by visiting HopeXchange at: http://www.hopexchange.com/ResourcesLinks.htm and clicking on National Organizations & Support Groups.
- Write! Writing to heal requires no special skill or talent and it is very therapeutic. Simply begin with “I feel…” Keeping a journal or writing daily can lead you through your grief.
Talking with others and writing are both excellent ways to move toward recovery. Putting your feelings into words can validate them and provide a healthy outlet, paving the way for closure and healing.
The above was adapted from an excerpt of the book Hope is Like the Sun.
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.
Holidays and special events are normally a time of joy and celebration, however they can become a painful reminder of your loss. Seeing family members, making decisions, and attending the holiday activities you usually enjoy can take on a different outlook after the loss of a child.
If you begin feeling sadness during the holidays or a special occasion, think about why you are feeling that way; process those feelings and accept them. It is a perfectly normal reaction to your grief. Taking this step ahead of time may help you to avoid some uncomfortable moments in public.
Should I Go?
Ask yourself if you are ready to attend family gatherings or parties. This will give you the opportunity to let someone know your decision in advance. Knowing that you would have planned to share your new baby at these celebrations could make them difficult and even tearful for you. Give yourself the option to gracefully bow out of the activity. Asking yourself these questions before a special event may help:
- Can I handle this? Is this something I would enjoy? If so, it could be a good way to lift your spirits.
- What does my spouse think? Will it cause problems if I do not attend?
- Would the holiday or special event be the same if I don’t attend? Deciding not to attend a Christmas play will not take away from the holiday season; however deciding not to attend Thanksgiving dinner will certainly change the Thanksgiving holiday.
Thinking through these questions ahead of time can help you arrive at a decision that is right for you, and one that will not negatively impact your spouse or your family.
In the middle of a challenging and frustrating week, I received the most amazing news. After two very difficult losses that caused a strain on an otherwise heathy marriage, a longtime reader had her miracle baby. I am overwhelmed with joy for this brave mother and father who had the courage to try again, and received the greatest gift – a healthy baby boy.
Completely caught up in the many stresses of my life, I felt a peaceful joy in looking at the pictures of this much-loved new life. I found myself going back to the pictures when I needed a lift because I couldn’t stop myself from grinning ear to ear when I looked at them.
I was reminded that the important things in life are often quiet the ones – not the blaring noises of my unhappy co-workers, my “stacked to the ceiling” laundry room or my overflowing “to-do” list. The pure happiness I felt when I looked at that little baby’s beautiful face is what I need to focus on. Laundry room…you’re out of luck.