October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is October 15, a day when people everywhere come together in support and love for the lives that so many families have said goodbye to too soon.
Let’s use this time to open dialogue about pregnancy and infant loss awareness, and to build support for those who are dealing with this complicated and maybe unexpected grief.
If you’ve lost a pregnancy or an infant, you may not know how to deal with this.
It’s not something many people ever plan for. You’re beyond just hurting. It’s a painful, heart-wrenching, devastating experience.
You’re not sure how to mourn. Along with the loss of your child, you’re also mourning the loss of the hopes, dreams, and goals you had for them and for your family.
Maybe part of you even feels like you’re mourning a silhouette, a shadow of a presence you can’t quite fully know.
Pregnancy loss and infant loss are complex experiences of grief.
You may feel sad, or angry, or maybe even numb.
There might be part of you that feels afraid. Afraid of what is happening, afraid of the hole in your heart, afraid of what the future holds.
The idea of closure may seem far off or next to impossible right now. When you suffer a soul-crushing loss, you don’t know how to work through this grief. There’s no real step-by-step self-help guide for mourning the loss of your child.
You’re left wondering how you will ever find a new normal in this chaotic, painful mess.
While anyone going through this devastation may experience it differently, there are some suggestions to help you find ways to go through the grieving process and create a new normal. The loss of your child will always be there, and you now can take a step in gaining strength and growing in resolve.
Here are some ideas to help you through the grieving process:
- Don’t bottle up your feelings. Whether you need to write it, speak it, draw it, sing it, or anything else, find a way to acknowledge what you’re feeling. Help yourself to get comfortable enough in recognizing your feelings, to know what else you need to do as you cope with the intense emotions you’re experiencing.
- Do something special in remembrance of your child. No matter the length of time you got to know them, they are your child and you love them dearly. They hold a part of your heart. Maybe you want to create a piece of art, a garden memorial, a poem, a scrapbook, or anything that speaks to you. Their place in your life, in your heart, is important and valid. Honor that.
- Share your story with someone. This may be a difficult step. It takes vulnerability and courage to open up and seek support. Invite someone into understanding your experience. Maybe this is your partner, a trusted friend, or a family member. Maybe it’s someone experiencing something similar. You can gain support and help others learn how they can better support and give love to you as well.
- If you’re in a relationship, start a new tradition with your partner. This loss has likely impacted almost every area of your life- home, work, romance, anything. Find a new way to connect with your partner and love each other as you grieve.
- Know what resources you have available to you. There are several organizations that seek to serve individuals and families experiencing pregnancy loss or infant loss. There are books, agencies, websites, and more to help you. Counseling may also be a resource to help you as you grieve, and to help you and your partner reconnect through the loss. Here are just a few of the resources that can provide information and connect you to others that can help you through pregnancy loss and infant loss:
- Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep provides information on resources for families experiencing loss. They have a comprehensive list of books, agencies, volunteers, support groups, and other resources to help individuals and families through the physical, emotional, mental, and financial toil this loss can take on you.
- The Recover-from-grief website provides information for you to learn about grief and creative ways to grieve and find support.
- The Baby Steps website is for families who have lost a child to seek support and share their stories in a caring online environment. It also serves to raise funds for research into childhood illnesses and treatments.
Throughout this challenging time, through all of the pain you’re experiencing, know that you will grow stronger. You may always have a piece of your heart hurting, but you can find ways to create your new normal, a life filled with health, love, and hope.
If you are in the Greenville, South Carolina area and would like therapy to help you or you and your partner work through the grief of losing your child, please reach out today to schedule a free consultation HERE. I would be honored to support you on this journey.