Grief, Miscarriage, and Baby Loss
Miscarriage is the most common form of baby loss, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and miscarriages typically occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Studies show that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage (American Pregnancy Association 2011).
When a child – born or unborn – dies, parents begin the long process of grieving. There are seven recognized stages of grief (Grief Loss Recovery 2011).
- Shock and denial. Especially if the baby loss was sudden, you will likely feel a sense of shock, numbness, or disbelief. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once.
- Pain and guilt. The pain of losing a child may seem overwhelming. You may also experience feelings of guilt and begin wondering what would have happened had you done something differently.
- Anger and bargaining. Feelings of anger during the grieving process are normal. That anger may be directed at your partner, God, or even the child. You may also try to bargain to find a way out of the pain: “I will never do X again if I could just have my child back.”
- Depression and reflection. During this time, you realize the full magnitude of losing a child. You may start to isolate yourself from friends and family, and you may spent a great amount of time reflecting on your child.
- An upward turn. Your physical symptoms (see below) start to lessen, and your depression begins to lift. You begin to have days that seem more normal to you.
- Reconstruction. As you continue to work through your pain, you will start to find a new routine and reconstruct your life without your child.
- Acceptance and hope. Eventually, you will learn to accept the reality of losing your child. Acceptance does not mean that you will be instantly happy, but you will find a way to start moving forward.
Grief often lasts longer than society recognizes, and every person experiences grief in a different way. Parents must be kind and patient with one and recognize that their partner’s grief may not match their own responses (Compassionate Friends 2009). And that’s okay.
Common emotions and physical symptoms surrounding miscarriage and baby loss:
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
- Short or long-term memory loss
- Feeling in “a fog”
Ways to manage grief:
- Talk about your feelings
- Considering joining a baby loss support group
- Eat a balanced diet
- Get plenty of rest
- Do some moderate exercise regularly
American Pregnancy Association. “Miscarriage.” 2011.
Compassionate Friends. “Understanding Grief When Your Child Dies.” 2009.
Grief Loss Recovery. “7 Stages of Grief: Through the Process and Back to Life.” 2011.