“Tough” Love: 9 Tips for Grieving Couples

Father's Day Can put a strain on 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.

Am I a Mother? An Answer for Grieving Moms

Am I a Mother?

Am I a Mother?

Are you spending this Mother’s Day wondering if you are, in fact, a mother? 900,000-1 million women in the U.S. alone face this question every year after suffering pregnancy loss.

“For women who experience a miscarriage during their first pregnancy, the question of motherhood is an even greater one,” says Lisa Church of HopeXchange, a company dedicated to the support of women and their families facing pregnancy loss.

Mother’s Day is the most difficult holiday a woman must face after pregnancy loss. A time that was supposed to be a celebration of a new life and a new motherhood becomes a time of sadness and grief. Church’s book, Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death, encourages women to use the holiday to remember their babies, rather than making it a dreaded event to endure each year. “Nothing will lesson the pain of Mother’s Day, but with some planning you can make sure the day has meaning for you,” says Church. Here are some tips from the book that can help:

– You Are a Mother.

The best gift you can give yourself on Mother’s Day is the acknowledgment that you are a mother. You may not have a baby to hold in your arms, but you do have one in your heart.

– Let Your Family Know What You Need.

If you feel uncomfortable being recognized as a mother at a banquet or other function, substitute an activity you would feel good about. If you would rather not receive or wear a flower, then wear an item that helps you to connect with your baby, such as a piece of jewelry that includes the baby’s birthstone.

– Remember Your Baby.

Mother’s Day can be a great time for a husband and wife to talk about their baby and what the baby meant to them. Take a walk, have a quiet dinner, or just set aside some time to remember your baby together.

– Decide Ahead of Time.

The way you chose to spend Mother’s Day should be your decision- and one you make ahead of time. Setting time aside to remember and talk about your baby will make you “feel” more like a mom on the very day designed to do that. Church also reminds women that their spouses may experience similar feelings on Father’s Day, “so be sure to ask how he would like to spend the day.”

We run this article each year to help grieving Moms handle Mother’s Day.

Men Have Feelings Too: Father’s Day After Loss

After the loss of a baby, Father’s Day can be a painful time for men that isn’t widely discussed or recognized. They will often hear friends and family asking their wives how they are doing, but rarely do men recieve the same type of attention. The lack of understanding and support offered to men makes grief a very complex and difficult situation for them.
It may sometimes appear that a man is not experiencing the pain of pregnancy loss. It is critical to understand how men and women grieve differently. Life experiences, along with cultural and personality differences mean that men and women are going to have separate, but equal dealings with grief.
If the lines of communication and support break down during loss, you will find a man feeling alone and unsupported. Here are some ways you can help a man during grief:
  • Remember that men normally grieve in private- not in public. You may not see outward signs that a man is grieving, but do not be fooled. Understand that a man in grief will find himself in a difficult position- he will be shamed if he expresses deep emotions in public and he will be shamed if he does not.
  • Be aware that men often experience anger differently then women during grief. While women may tend to point anger inward, men often direct their anger outward. This can manifest as anger toward you or even God. Remember that expressed anger is a normal and healthy response, however hostile behavior is not.
  • Listen. Remember that some men want to talk, but they feel there is no one to listen. A man may also be uncomfortable putting his feelings into words. Encourage him by listening during those times when he does talk about it.
  • Ask what you can do. It is very important to ask what you can do to help a man during his grief, and then do your best to meet his needs.
  • Keep an open mind. Remember that grief is an individual experience. Assuming that a man is not feeling pain if he grieves differently than you will only cause strife and misunderstanding.

Dealing with pregnancy loss is difficult for anyone. Understanding a man and giving him the space and support he needs will be critical.

The above information was adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.

A New Dawn: Adjusting to Life Without Your Baby

The month of October can difficult for many who are dealing with the grief of miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death.  Since my miscarriage happened during the month of October I am always reminded at this time of year. It was right before Halloween…and now that emotional event is marked each year by the coming of Fall and the activities that accompany Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month. As each year passes, I try to focus less on grief and more on reflection remembering the child I never knew. 
 
When a baby dies during pregnancy, or shortly after, the hopes and dreams of the parents die with it. If the couple has no other children, the loss can be even more devastating because the ‘family’ has died as well.
 
Pregnancy loss causes a void, and this emptiness must be addressed in order for parents to adjust to a life without their baby. For the woman, the physical connection between mother and child is even greater. She must overcome the feeling that a part of her is gone.
 
You will never forget the child who died; you will find ways to remember your baby as an important part of your past. As a couple, or even a family, you will form a new view of your future.
 
Here are some suggestions to help you adjust:
 
  • Return to work. Going back to work can help you to feel that you are getting back to your routine. It is also helpful to be surrounded by familiar and caring co-workers.
  • Keep your routine as normal as possible. Maintaining structure will help you feel a sense of control.
  • Volunteer. Helping others actually helps to keep your mind off of yourself, and it can improve your perspective. This is both rewarding and healing.
  • Indulge yourself. Get a message, go shopping, or treat yourself to a facial or manicure. Anything you find relaxing or soothing will help.
  • Recognize your progress. Notice when you can get through a few hours or days without pain. Find something you are thankful for, laugh, look forward to something.  Recognize when you can talk about your loss more easily or feel less preoccupied with yourself and your loss.
  • Get counseling if you cannot function normally, you feel no relief, or your grief has gone on for too long. If, despite all of your efforts, you cannot cope or adjust, seek professional help.
Readjusting the hopes and dreams you had before your loss is not easy, but it is an important step in moving on with life. It allows you to create a new place for your baby and move on to new hope and new dreams for your future.
 
The above information was adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.   
  

Father’s Day After Loss: Men Have Feelings Too

After the loss of a baby, Father’s Day can be a painful time for men that isn’t widely discussed or recognized. They will often hear friends and family asking their wives how they are doing, but rarely do men recieve the same type of attention. The lack of understanding and support offered to men makes grief a very complex and difficult situation for them.
 
It may sometimes appear that a man is not experiencing the pain of pregnancy loss. It is critical to understand how men and women grieve differently. Life experiences, along with cultural and personality differences mean that men and women are going to have separate, but equal dealings with grief.
 
If the lines of communication and support break down during loss, you will find a man feeling alone and unsupported. Here are some ways you can help a man during grief:
 
  • Remember that men normally grieve in private- not in public. You may not see outward signs that a man is grieving, but do not be fooled. Understand that a man in grief will find himself in a difficult position- he will be shamed if he expresses deep emotions in public and he will be shamed if he does not.
  • Be aware that men often experience anger differently then women during grief. While women may tend to point anger inward, men often direct their anger outward. This can manifest as anger toward you or even God. Remember that expressed anger is a normal and healthy response, however hostile behavior is not.
  • Listen. Remember that some men want to talk, but they feel there is no one to listen. A man may also be uncomfortable putting his feelings into words. Encourage him by listening during those times when he does talk about it.
  • Ask what you can do. It is very important to ask what you can do to help a man during his grief, and then do your best to meet his needs.
  • Keep an open mind. Remember that grief is an individual experience. Assuming that a man is not feeling pain if he grieves differently than you will only cause strife and misunderstanding.

Dealing with pregnancy loss is difficult for anyone. Understanding a man and giving him the space and support he needs will be cricital.

  
The above information was adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.

Welcome to the HOPE Community!

Welcome  new and returning readers from our HOPE Newsletter! I know it’s been quiet for a very long time and we apologize for the long silence. We’ve had a lot of work going on “behind the scenes” creating our new blog and migrating some of the HopeXchange website to it’s new home here! There are still changes to come as we continue to make improvements.

We look forward to offering you more up to date information and posts on our new blog. We will continue to offer support to women and their families who are dealing with miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death. And more importantly, we look forward to the chance to interact with you, and allow you to communicate with one another.  This will be a true community and safe place to heal. Let’s make the most of this new opportunity and the support it can offer to each and every one of us.

I read this quote today and thought it fit this new group so well:

 “Grief and sadness knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger than common joys” ~ Alphonse de Lamartine, French Poet

Let us be strong together.