Pregnancy loss is a delicate subject. If you are reading this, you've likely experienced pregnancy loss or know somebody who has, so you know how tender and hard to talk about it can be. The vulnerability that surrounds pregnancy loss can keep us quiet and disconnected from others, even though it's a time when we need support the most.
Grief comes in waves, and impacts us all in different ways... Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance are the 5 Stages of Grief (outlined by Elisabeth Kubler Ross). Your experience with grief won't necessarily happen in that order, and each stage might look different for the varying losses you experience in your life. One aspect of Denial and Bargaining is SHOCK. When we are in shock it can feel impossible to even comprehend what is going on for us, never mind talk about it!
But also, talking about it might be what helps. It might help you to move past the shock, sink into your feelings and gather your thoughts. It might help you to feel supported - less alone, less isolated. If you don't process your grief, it often stays stuck and unresolved, and might get acted out in different ways subconsciously.
I came across a comic recently that was done to represent a woman's experience with having a miscarriage. (View the comic here, it's worth your time, I promise!!!). This comic beautifully illustrates the devastation that can come with a miscarriage, alongside the different stages of grief. Chari Pere, the woman who wrote the comic and article shows how isolating it can be when you think you are the only one experiencing a miscarriage, and she has made a point to share her loss experience widely to support other women who have suffered miscarriages.
When I had my miscarriage, I only knew of two other people who had had experienced this. I initially felt like NOBODY understood. All of the comments from people who were trying to make me feel better, but hadn't experienced it themselves, were making me feel worse: "At least you know you can get pregnant!" "You can keep trying." "You're not worried that you won't get pregnant again are you?" "It's really common, it's not a big deal."
And not only the comments, but the expectation that I'd be back to normal once it passed. The physical trauma that came with the experience was shocking and difficult to cope with as well, and the reminders that followed with each cycle that followed after my miscarriage.
Despite the physical and emotional pain and discomfort that I was going through, I was very open about my miscarriage with others; and as I shared, I found out that many other people in my life had had miscarriages too. As more and more people shared their experiences with me, I felt more supported and understood. But I would never have had this opportunity for connection if I hadn't opened up about it myself, and instead of getting support, I would have stayed isolated in my grief.
Having the knowledge that pregnancy loss is common isn't going to reduce or minimize your grief, but it does provide support and reduces feelings of isolation. Talking about this shared experience can also reduce blaming and shaming that women so often do to themselves when they experience pregnancy loss, and processing your experience is what will help you to work through your grief. What helped you the most when you experienced your loss? What did you need that you didn't get? Please leave a comment below!
Jen from The Essence of You offers support for grief and loss through group therapy & individual therapy sessions. Next Group Starting August 21st.
Jen is a counsellor and psychotherapist in Calgary, Alberta. If you are interested in booking a session with her or attending one of her groups or workshops, visit The Essence of You website or Contact Jen directly.