Grief is a feeling of anguish felt as a result of the loss of someone or something of significance in your life. Thus is especially true in the case of miscarriage and can be experienced by both partners in a relationship. In acknowledgement of this women who experience miscarriage and their partners are entitled to two days of bereavement leave in this country.
The five stages of grief are often applicable after suffering miscarriage. However as with any form bereavement these stages may be in any order and depth of experience.
Often, the pain of the loss can be devastating. Leading to a variety of unanticipated emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also impact on your physical health, making it difficult to think straight, sleep, or eat or feel general numbness. These are normal reactions to loss—and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be.
For a woman the physical after-effects of miscarriage, where the pregnancy hormone (hCG) drop in your body, can leave you overwhelming sad. At this time grief may be at its strongest and feel similar to depression. These emotions may continue even after your menstrual period returns and your body recovers. The 5 Stages of grief in relation to miscarriage are:
- Denial & Isolation
It can be the case that you might grasp at straws hoping that there may be a mistake. That there may be another reason for symptoms or evidence and a miscarriage is not happening. It may be that, at this time, you avoid interaction with others, withdrawing from social events, not taking phone calls etc. This can be a symptom of not wanting to acknowledge there has been a loss.
It is rare that miscarriage is anyone’s fault and usually cannot be prevented. However often at this stage it is common to look for a reason and often anger at oneself or others is the result. Blame can be attributed to a partner or a third party such a doctor or clinic for causing or not foreseeing the possibility. Seemingly innocuous comments can be misunderstood and cause anger toward relatives and friends.
Miscarriage is generally beyond anyone’s ability to control. Nevertheless, bargaining with yourself or a higher power can be part of the process. For example, I promise to do this or that if I can get pregnant again soon or not miscarry again. Alternatively, the need to over research miscarriage prevention and risk minimisation can occur, which may lead to unrealistic expectations.
Anything related to pregnancy and babies may be distressing or produce unease causing avoidance. For example, wanting to steer clear of pregnant contemporaries or those with new babies. Even image in the media may be difficult. Feelings of inadequacy or unmet expectations can lead to sadness. Statistically 85-90 percent of women who experience a miscarriage will become pregnant again within a year. However, it is understandable that there can be a worry you were never meant to carry a child and concern that you have done something that makes you undeserving. If you try again feelings of anguish may be suffered if it fails to happen quickly. If pregnancy happens again there can often be lingering concerns that miscarriage may happen again.
As with all bereavement the pain experienced may always be with you, nevertheless it will become easier as time passes. With distance the sadness will be less overwhelming. Acceptance may not be reached until after giving birth to another child. Regardless of how you feel, or at what stage of loss you are experiencing, grief is a normal process and will not always be as devastating as it is at first. Dealing with miscarriage is difficult however you are stronger than you think and eventually it will become easier.