Support and Resources for Loss and Grief
By Heidi Lengel, heidilengel.com
If you have experienced the unexpected loss of a pregnancy or baby, we are so sorry. Your experiences are valid and true, no matter when or how they happened.
One’s experience of perinatal loss varies greatly based on several things:
Whether or not the pregnancy was planned or unexpected
When in the course of the pregnancy the loss occurred
Feelings about the pregnancy up until the time of loss
The nature of the medical factors of the loss and subsequent procedures (if any)
The impact of interactions with those around you including family, friends, medical staff, and even strangers
The emotional, financial, social, and/or spiritual resources you have in place at the time of the loss
As a therapist who specializes in perinatal bereavement, I have found the following tools to be helpful when trying to cope with the loss of a pregnancy or baby:
Put social support in place: Find your tribe
Even if it’s just 1 close family member and 1 close friend, processing the loss with others is better than feeling alone and isolated. Find someone who can empathize with you, listen without judgement, and offer compassion.
Eat. Drink. Sleep. Repeat.
Your body just underwent a LOT of changes in a short time. From hormonal changes to organs shifting to mood swings, pregnancy- and the end of one- is no joke. Take time to think about what your body needs. Put down the pint of ice cream and reach for some fresh foods that will stabilize your body, and subsequently, your mind. Remember that extra water is still needed to help your body return to normal. Resist the urge to ‘jump back in’ to life; carve out moments of time in your schedule where you can rest mindfully, nap, or get a few extra hours of sleep. Take care of your body- you’re worth it.
Seek out emotional support
This loss wasn’t your fault. Pregnancy and infant loss experiences are some of life’s greatest challenges. They evoke feelings of anger, isolation, fear, doubt, and self blame. No person should have to process those feelings alone. When you are ready, connect with a therapist who specializes in perinatal loss. A few months of support from a specialized expert may help immensely in your grief journey.
Check in with your care provider, when you’re ready
After you’ve recovered physically and started to heal emotionally, check in with your care provider about subsequent pregnancies (if you want to try again). Make a list of questions to ask your care provider, including those things that you may have blamed yourself for. Chances are, the odds of the same thing happening again are slight, if you invest in gaining knowledge about your health and ways to make a subsequent pregnancy last.
Organizations to provide support
Shanti Yoga and Ayurveda: Instructor Shiya Furstenau offers classes to support women who have experienced pregnancy loss and infant death.