If you recently lost a pregnancy, you may feel overwhelmed by the grief you feel. Here are five ways to get the support you need from people who understand what you’re going through.
“When I lost my daughter Naomi in my second trimester, I felt complete, utter lonesomeness along with my devastating sadness,” says Kristi Bothur, the mother of two on Earth and three in Heaven. “I felt alone in my grief and that no one else could understand.”
Kristi and her husband founded Naomi’s Circle, a ministry for parents who have lost babies at any stage of pregnancy or early infancy. It’s a wonderful website, and I hope you go visit her there!
She wrote this article for Quips and Tips, to help women and men cope with pregnancy loss.
5 Places to Find Support for Pregnancy Loss
“In the case of any loss, a person needs continuing, ongoing support from a number of people…to be able to talk over what has occurred and reminisce,” writes Grief and Trauma Counselor H. Norman Wright in Recovering from Losses in Life.
That feeling of isolation, not uncommon following a loss, can be crippling, making you afraid to reach out to others who could help you find healing and wholeness again. On the other hand, hearing other people’s stories of surviving loss and coming out stronger on the other side gave me hope.
Where can you find this support? Here are five places to start.
Online sources of support for pregnancy loss
In this age of social networking and blogging, finding other bereaved parents is as easy as using a search engine. Type in “baby loss” or “pregnancy loss” and thousands of blogs, websites, and forums will fill your screen. The Naomi’s Circle website has done a lot of the work of filtering through some of them for you. Connecting with other parents in similar circumstances will help you realize that you are not alone, and it can provide voices of encouragement on the darkest days following a loss.
One word of warning, though – the online community can be very addicting. Several times, I realized I’d been reading story after story of loss and death, and it was bringing me down more than lifting me up.
My greatest encouragement in the months following Naomi’s death was from the online community of Hannah’s Prayer, where I met other women who had experienced loss and were not afraid of my anger, my questions, and my despair, but were willing to walk with me while I found my footing again. Be sure to seek out similar uplifting online resources that help point you to the future, and balance your time online with the other sources of support listed here.
Books about miscarriage and pregnancy loss
A search of “pregnancy loss” on Amazon will reveal over 300 books on the subject. The advantage of books over blogs is that the writer has generally moved through his or her grief and writes from the perspective of time and hope. They show that you can not only survive but thrive after the devastating blow of losing a child.
In addition, books like I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy, Holding On to Hope: A Pathway through Suffering to the Heart of God, and Empty Arms: Coping After Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death helped put my grief into words and showed me that I wasn’t going crazy. My feelings were normal.
Your circle of friends and family
Once people knew that our daughter had died, it was amazing how many came to us with their own stories of loss. We found support we had never dreamed of in family members and friends who had also experienced pregnancy loss or the death of children. One man, the son of friends from church, visited me in the hospital with a gift – a wire angel he had made in memory of his son who had died in childhood. He honored his son by carrying them with him and giving them to others in their times of loss.
I had nearly forgotten that my own mother had experienced a miscarriage between me and my brother – at a time when talking about it was much less accepted than it is now. I gravitated toward others who had a similar experience, knowing that they would understand my tears.
Our hospital had a grief counselor who led a support group specifically for pregnancy loss and infant death. That is not the norm everywhere, but it is not uncommon for hospitals to have support groups for grief, and some will have them for pregnancy loss. Even if you were not hospitalized for your loss, it is worth calling them to see what they have, as these groups are often open to the public, not just patients.
I saw a grief counselor for nearly a year, and found that seeing a counselor can be a huge help in moving forward in grief. More and more, pregnancy loss is being associated with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and in these cases especially, professional help can be very beneficial.
Be aware, too, that the trauma of losing a child can bring out many other issues as well, whether dealing with previous losses, stress at a job, stress in your marriage, or other personal issues. Grief is often very complicated, and it helps to have someone objective help you walk through it.
The grief of pregnancy loss can be incredibly isolating; but when you find a supportive community in person, online, or in print, it gives you hope that your life can still have purpose and joy.
For a husband’s perspective, read Miscarriage Support – How to Cope With Pregnancy Loss. It’s written by Donn King, whose late ex-wife had four miscarriages.
Where have you found support in your time of loss? Share it in the comments below.