There’s No “Just Getting Over It” & 8 Other Things You Need to Know After Pregnancy or Infant Loss
Grieving the loss of your child can be compounded by other peoples views or insensitivities. Tamisha, a legal secretary from Long Beach, California, had a normal pregnancy. However, there was a malformation that wasn’t detected on the ultrasound. Her baby died four hours after birth.
Doctors and nurses avoided her, ignored her questions or gave her evasive answers. ”Don’t worry; you’ll get over it” or “You’re young; you’ll have another baby” after delivering and losing your child aren’t words that offer solace or understanding. ”From the beginning, it was like, this is something not to be discussed,” Tamisha said. Women need and prefer answers, not platitudes.
Tamisha and her husband came home to an empty house. Friends and loved ones got rid of the baby’s things before she and her husband got home from the hospital. ”People acted like my baby didn’t exist. My husband didn’t want to talk about it. Nobody talked about it.”
Well, here are some of the answers and real conversations you may need to have at the ready if you experience a pregnancy or infant loss.
- No matter what people say, you will not feel better in a couple of days, weeks or even months. Your hurt may continue for years. True healing only occurs after the slow and necessary progression through the different stages of grief and mourning.
- Memorials can give you closure; it may make the loss real. ”At our memorial service, I told people not to be afraid to say her name. She is a real person,” says one mother.
- Understand that grieving for a child is very different from grieving for the loss of a parent or grandparent. When you grieve for your child you are grieving for the future. That future is continually playing out without your child present. So moments may catch you by surprise when you feel the loss more.
- Some healing strategies others used may not work for you. Losing a child is unique. It is also important to realize that healing does not mean forgetting. You will never forget your precious baby, and successful grieving ensures that there is always a place in your heart for him or her.
- Your loved ones may not know how to be there for you. They may be afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. Have an honest conversation with them about how they can help. By allowing others to share in your pain and help you out, you will be comforted and they will feel less helpless and awkward.
- Do not feel shy about making choices for yourself at this time. You may not want to make large or hasty decisions like moving out of town or quitting your job, but you should be involved with decisions related to the death of your child. Counselors say participating in these decsions helps make the loss real. Until the loss is real, the grieving process can not begin. Instead of just painful thoughts, you can also have comforting memories of the kind and loving acts you did for your baby.
- It is probably true that you will be hurt, angry, or jealous if you are around mothers who have young babies. You may feel resentment and secretly wish ill on others. These are very real feelings for a person in the throes of grief. You are not a horrible person for thinking such thoughts. Be willing to forgive yourself, knowing that these feelings will eventually go away.
- Prepare for a changed relationship with your spouse or partner. In some instances, these types of traumatic experiences can make two people closer. However, there may be some resentment, anger, or blame secretly or openly brewing. If you sense this is happening to you, do not ignore it or assume it will get better with time. Find a grief counselor or a support group with other couples who have had similar loss.
Tamisha’s story originally appeared in The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy (Amistad/Harper Collins).
Learn more about coping with grief at www.babylosscomfort.com.
Read Actress Lela Rochon Shares Her Story: Trusting Your Body & Important Tips For Black Women.
Read Phyllis’ Story: Tears For Baby Adam & Fears In Her Next Pregnancy.
Read Erica’s Story: A Near-Death Experience With HELLP Syndrome & Losing Baby Grace.