Grieving Pregnancy Loss

Your life entwined with mine
For such a short span of time.
The anticipation of you filled me with hope,
With dreams, with pleasure.
Then you were gone.
Forever you will be part of
The story of my life.—Ronda Knuth

Pregnancy loss may come as a stillbirth, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or a blighted ovum. Even though it occurs before birth, the baby has already touched the lives of the parents. Grieving can be difficult and often misunderstood. Consider these suggestions when grieving a pregnancy loss.

let yourself grieve
Your little one was a tiny life that you began to love early in your pregnancy. Pregnancy loss is not only a loss of life but also a loss of dreams, dreams of your baby’s place in your heart and family. There is no set timetable for grieving the loss of your baby, but pretending that it wasn’t a big deal is not healthy. Acknowledge your loss and give yourself permission to grieve. Cry your tears and share your story. Express your feelings, good and bad. Realize that grief can be like an emotional roller coaster. It’s normal to have good and bad days.

take care of yourself
Make your physical health a priority. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy and comforting food and exercise if you are able. Pamper yourself with a massage, a pedicure, a hot bath or other comforts. Nurture yourself emotionally and spiritually, too. Carve out time for activities that bring you comfort and enjoyment—a phone call with a close friend, curling up with a good book (consider the resource list), hobbies and crafts, times of prayer or writing in a journal.

share your story
You need to tell the story of your loss, perhaps again and again. Find someone to talk to, whether your spouse, a compassionate friend or a support group (refer to the resource list). A private journal provides a safe place to share things perhaps too sensitive to tell others. Describe experiences or conversations. Write poems, prayers, letters to your baby, reflections, and favorite quotes or bible verses.

name your baby
Naming your baby acknowledges its brief yet real existence. A name also gives you an identity to use when talking about your baby. Even if you miscarried and are unsure of the baby’s sex, consider a simple name such as Baby Smith.

say good-bye to your baby
Hospitals today tend to be more sensitive to the needs of bereaved parents. In the case of stillbirth, parents are encouraged to hold, bathe and dress their babies, which helps provide a sense of closure. Whatever the specific circumstances of your loss, find a way to say good-bye to your baby. If feasible, have a memorial service or funeral. If not, consider some kind of farewell ritual for your baby, perhaps with family and close friends. If you are a person of faith, surrender your baby into God’s care.

create a memorial
If available, save items such as baby blankets, ultrasound photos, hospital mementos and sympathy cards. When you are ready, use these and other items to create a memorial such as a baby scrapbook or framed display. A memorial not only tangibly represents your baby’s life but also provides a creative outlet that can be helpful as you grieve.

practice selective hearing
When people don’t know what to say, they often say the wrong thing. You can have another baby…He’s in heaven now…God needed another little angel…You didn’t even know her… When you experience a thoughtless comment, try to understand that rarely do people intend to be unkind. Simply ignore what is not helpful, and find comfort in words that are.

be prepared for shadow grief
Certain dates or times of the year can trigger “shadow” grief, the grief that comes from realizing the loss of shared experiences with your baby. Your baby’s due date, the anniversary of your pregnancy loss, Mother’s Day, the holidays and even the birth of a healthy baby to someone else can trigger painful memories, sometimes even years later. Prepare for these days by knowing ahead of time that they might be difficult. Plan special activities with family and friends. Perhaps look at your scrapbook or read your journal.

reach out to others
As you heal, look for occasions to share what you have learned. Reaching out compassionately to comfort others in their losses can help you move beyond personal grief and find fulfillment in giving.

_____________________ SIDEBAR: RESOURCES

The resources listed below may be helpful to those grieving pregnancy or early infant loss. For severe grief and depression, seek professional help from a licensed counselor.


GriefShare (support groups in your area)

Hannah’s Prayer< ;/p>

Mothers In Sympathy and Support (M.I.S.S.)

Noah’s Place

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Pregnancy Institute (cord accidents) 2250 Gause Blvd., Suite 200, Slidell, LA 70461

Quiet Refuge

SHARE Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, National Office 800-821-6819

books & art

Bergeron, Julie. Original grief paintings and art therapy.

Gordon, Russ & June. Forever in Our Hearts (a baby album designed for pregnancy and early infant loss). P.O. Box 63506, Colorado Springs, CO, 80962-3506.

Hayford, Jack. I’ll Hold You in Heaven.

Ilse, Sherokee. Empty Arms—Coping with Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death.

Ilse, Sherokee. Planning A Precious Goodbye.

Vredevelt, Pam. Empty Arms—Emotional Support for Those Who Have Suffered.

by Ronda Knuth

r by Ronda Knuth

Mother Shares Family Experience
4th Grade


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