Coping with Grief

Grief is like an amusement park ride gone haywire. A good thing gone bad. The same love you have invested in this child is the love that will bring you pain. Even if you were only six weeks pregnant or your baby was just three days old you have something to grieve. The depth and length of your sorrow will probably be longer than you (and others) expect.

Fathers are likely to be left out altogether. People will ask, "How is your wife? "Is she holding up?" Understanding grief and having some idea of what to expect will help you recover from your loss. Unfortunately, there is no magic lever to pull and stop the ride. You have to face the "loop-the-loops" to reach solid ground again.

The stages of grief are as follows:

DENIAL - The feeling of shock and confusion, refusal to believe you've lost the baby. You may still feel pregnant.

ANGER - You may have intense anger at yourself, your mate, the doctor, or the whole world. "Why has my baby died?" Why does that family have four children and I can't even have a baby?" Issues of faith are very common.

BARGAINING - This is the stage where you try to convince God to play LET'S MAKE A DEAL. Offering your life in exchange for your child's. Or promising to be a better person to stop labor pains.

DEPRESSION - When reality sinks in, depression sets in. The symptoms you could experience have a wide variety: aching arms, phantom kicks or cries, and nightmares. Sleeplessness, loss of appetite, lack of sex drive, fantasies about the baby and suicidal thoughts can occur.

ACCEPTANCE - Yes, eventually you will "accept" this loss, but you won't forget or forsake. This is the hardest part of recovery. It takes time and patience. The other hills and dips of this coaster can overlap or return to throw you for a loop. Grieving is not a straight line or an easy ride. Allow yourself and your partner TIME to grieve your baby.

Some Helpful Suggestions:

  • Realize that your loss is real, no matter if you were six weeks pregnant or your baby was six weeks old.

  • Allow yourself to grieve. Don't let others, or even yourself, minimize your grief. You had hopes and dreams for this child from the moment that you discovered you were pregnant.

  • Know that everyone grieves differently. It's important that you and your partner take enough time to feel all the emotions. Don't let anyone tell you it's "time to move on" or to "get over it". Any kind of judgment concerning the appropriateness of someone's grief is inappropriate.

  • It's not always easy or possible, but it helps to have someone to talk to about your child. A friend or relative can be a key in the grieving process by listening to you to talk about your baby. If you need to, ask your doctor about a support group for people in your situation.

  • Keep a journal, recording the events around your loss as well as emotions as you grieve. Over time you will be able to look back and see improvement in handling your loss.

  • Intense grieving periods vary for each person, but are commonly about 18 to 24 months. And your grief may go in circles; birthdays, memorial days, and holidays can bring strong emotions.

  • Seek information about your loss. Reading books is a good place to start. Or material about genetic testing or certain conditions that may happen again.

  • Grief can literally wear you down and lead to physical problems...get a check-up, eat, drink lots of water and exercise to reduce stress. Even if you don't feel like it.

  • Find a unique and personal way to memorialize your baby. Name your; plant a tree or garden; keep a memory album or box; make donations in memory or your baby; etc. What you do can reflect your love and situation in whatever way you choose.