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Journey of Loss
by Heather Sargent
8/10/2008 / Parenting
On May 15, 2000, I thought I might literally die from heartache. I threw myself onto the bed and sobbed until my sides cramped and I couldn't breathe. My husband ran to the room, desperate to know what had happened. I was crying so hard I could not form any words. One look into my eyes told him everything he needed to know - I had just lost our child.
Dealing with a miscarriage is devastating no matter how far along you are. The following are some collective ideas I found helpful, may they guide you through your journey as well.
Do Not Blame Yourself
After a miscarriage, one of the first things grieving parents tend to do is blame each other or ourselves. I must have done something wrong, I didn't eat enough healthy food. I didn't exercise enough.
You need to know, nothing you could have done would prevent this tragedy.
Learn about what happened to you. Go to the library and find books on the subject. Find a website that can explain what happened by someone who has been through it. Often our doctors mean well but cannot always explain it in a way that a grieving mommy can understand at the time.
Seek Others Like You
It is important that you know you are not alone. It can be helpful to have someone around who knows what you are feeling. Seek other women or families who have been in the same situation as you. There are many ways to do that.
Start by opening up to your family and friends. You may be very surprised to see who has walked this dark road before you. See if there are any support groups in your area. Ask your doctor or search the internet. There are many Web sites with chat rooms and message boards populated by people in various stages of the grieving process. This is how I personally was able to reach out. I spent many hours crying at my keyboard, feeling a bond with women I had never met. We helped each other through this dark time in our lives.
Remember Those Around You
Don't forget that your husband is also grieving. If you have other children, they will be as well. Get help for them if needed and do not leave them out of your grieving process. The whole family will have healing to do. This is the time to draw them in. The kids need to know they have not done anything wrong and that Mommy and Daddy still love them. Talk to your husband, he may not know what you need him to do, or how he can help. This can be either a huge strain on a marriage, or a time of powerful bonding. It all depends on how you communicate with each other. Communicating with love and tenderness will help you both get through this time of loss, and strengthen your marriage.
Allow Time for Healing
Give yourself time to grieve. Take some time off work. Let Grandma take the kids for a sleepover. When they come back home, have them climb into bed with you and watch a silly movie. You must have popcorn for this event (that's what vacuums are for). Pamper them a little; do some things you don't normally do. Ask them questions about what they feel, and then answer their questions in age appropriate ways. Make sure they know they will see their sibling again in Heaven.
Most likely, your doctor will have told you not to try to get pregnant again right away. Your body needs to heal so that you will have a better chance to carry to term in the future. You will also need time to grieve for your lost child. Keep in close contact with your doctor during this time and keep your appointments. If you feel you are not getting better, seek help. Talk to your Pastor or a counselor. If you are struggling with sleep or severe depression then talk to your doctor about medication. Any of these professionals can help you in a different area for your own unique recovery.
Make a Memorial
Make something, plant something, build something, give life to something in honor of your little angel. I planted a garden - something foreign to me. I found it very therapeutic to have my hands in the dirt and planting beautiful flowers; not only as a memorial but also as a way to cope. I prayed a lot during that time. Sometimes my boys would help me. They also needed a way to work through their grief, as they were really hoping for a little sister. As a memorial, you could plant a cross with your baby's name in the garden.
Do whatever it is that makes you feel good, or try something new. Make a quilt, paint a picture, write a poem. You could also keep a journal. Some of the best writing comes from raw emotion. Do not hide your feelings. If you are angry or sad write about it. That will help you sort through your emotions.
Another thing you can do is write a letter to your baby. Write about the hopes and dreams you had and all the things you wanted to do. I wrote a poem and put it on a card with a little cherub on the front. I handed it out to my family, close friends and even to my doctor. I told everyone I was pregnant as soon as I found out so they all knew soon after I miscarried.
Name the Baby
Give the baby a name that means something to you even if you were only a few weeks along. From the point of conception, there is a spirit. That baby will be with you in Heaven. So make a name. I came up with a gender-neutral name because I did not know if I had a boy or a girl waiting for me in Heaven. For me, it solidified the fact that I experienced a real loss, not just the loss of what should have been.
Come to a Place of Acceptance and Release. All of us would change the situation if given the chance. Coming to a place of accepting what happened will help a great deal with your emotional well-being. Saying you can accept what happened does not in any way mean you agree with it, or are even okay with it. It simply means you have accepted that you have no control over this and are going to allow yourself to find healing; not only for yourself but also for your family and the memory of your little one. You do your child no good if you stay in a place of unforgiveness and anger. These are emotions you will go through, but take caution not to stay there.
You need to find a way physically, to show release. Tossing a flower petal into a fast flowing river is one idea. A friend told me somehow pulling petals from a beautiful flower feels like the loss of a beautiful child...watching them spin in the eddies, some petals even getting caught on rocks or stones like the vestige of hopes we had in this little one.
Resume a Normal Schedule
A sense of normalcy can be comforting. Try to resume your daily routine as soon as you can, a little at a time. Be realistic - when you go back to work, see if you are able to come in for a few hours a day to start with, and then go a little longer. Do not push yourself before you are ready. Still allow for moments of grief. Time helps but the wound will remain.
Look to the future. When your doctor gives you the all clear, you can start trying again. Talk about it with your husband first but because you will both grieve in different ways and for different periods, he may need a little more time than you before he is ready again. Not only is he grieving for your lost child, but he is also very worried about you and your health. Discuss the options, weigh the risks and decide together what is right for your family. When the darkness closes in around you remember this, you will see your angel again.
Out of all pregnancies, about 30% end in miscarriage, half of them before the woman even knows she is pregnant.
March of Dimes
Heather Sargent - 2008
A down-to-earth wife and mother of four, Heather Sargent has more than enough to write about. From the insanity of daily life to the quiet, magical moments which include sleeping children, she finds humor and joy in her chaotic life.
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