“I think it’s very common for a woman to feel their loss isn’t deemed as significant as the death of someone who lived and breathed on earth,” Julia Bueno UKCP, a psychotherapist specialising in pregnancy loss and author of The Brink of Being, tells British Vogue of perinatal loss. “The pregnancy loss community and charities have been fighting this misunderstanding for decades now, and are slowly making progress. Connecting with others who have been through pregnancy loss can often be very nourishing and a reminder that perinatal loss is a profound experience.”
This year, many high profile women, including the Duchess of Sussex, have openly discussed the pain of pregnancy loss. Nevertheless, it’s a topic that’s still shrouded in shame and fear, leaving some women to feel that their perinatal loss isn’t significant enough to be fully grieved. “Clinically, we also know miscarriage can increase the risk of serious anxiety, depression and trauma, so I would encourage everyone to take their feelings seriously,” says Bueno. “The Miscarriage Association and Tommy’s are both great resources of information and support.”
Below, Bueno shares her learnings on pregnancy loss and grief.
What are the stages of grief a woman may experience after having a miscarriage?
When it comes to bereavement, we often talk about someone “going through certain stages” but Bueno doesn’t believe this is the case. “I don’t believe there are ‘stages of grief’ for any bereavement, including that of a miscarriage,” she says. “Therapists tend to think more of feelings coming and going in grief, rather than ‘moving through’ them. It’s common for a woman to feel a number of things during the days, weeks and even months after her loss. This may be heightened after repeated miscarriage. You may feel a tremendous sadness, of course, at what you’ve lost, but also anger at the injustice of it – or even anger at the lack of understanding that often comes your way.”
According to The Miscarriage Association, more than one in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Yet, pregnancy loss “resides at the bottom of the pecking order of grief in our culture”. “A woman may also fear her future fertility, and of getting pregnant again – no pregnancy after miscarriage is easy,” continues Bueno. “But also it’s very common to feel envious of other pregnant women, although this is particularly tough to talk about.”
What can be done to help ease grief?
“Most importantly, after a pregnancy loss you should allow herself to grieve,” says Bueno. “Our culture has, historically, minimised the experience and grief of miscarriage and this can send a message for women to ‘get on with it’, or at least not to grieve too long. But the grief of a miscarriage is real and like any other grief, and although a woman mourns a ‘baby-to-be’, she may well have had a very strong bond with it.”
For this reason, in Bueno’s book The Brink of Being, she discusses the ‘child in mind’ that “emerges while trying to conceive a pregnancy, and probably well before then, too. This child, and all the future family life that went with it, needs to be mourned.”
While grieving, engagements may arise that prove difficult. “You’re entitled to protect yourself from hurtful situations – such as going to a baby shower, and to take time to get back on your feet. This may mean asking for time off work, and time out of socialising, too,” says Bueno. “You may also need to let your body recover too – miscarriages can be physically gruelling, especially if late in gestation (a miscarriage can happen up until 23 weeks and six days of a pregnancy). They can involve excruciating physical pain and weeks or even months of bleeding.”
What advice can you offer to a friend who has experienced a recent miscarriage?
Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to say after a family member or a friend has experienced pregnancy loss. “I wouldn’t offer advice. I would listen,” says Bueno. “Asking a recently bereaved woman, ‘Tell me what happened’ would mean so much to many, who I have spoken to over the years. Having a compassionate curiosity above all else would be wonderful. Most women want to tell their story of their pregnancy from the start, until the ongoing end of it.”
How can you support your partner as they grieve, too?
Pregnancy loss also greatly affects the couple – not just the woman who carried the child. “Male partners are often ignored after pregnancy loss because they feel they have to ‘step up’ and be stoic while their pregnant partner suffers physical and emotional pain,” says Bueno. “Others assume they are coping well because they are doing this, and as a result they tend to focus on the once-pregnant woman. Also, men tend to grieve in ways that look differently from women – they ‘do’ rather than ‘feel’, and this can be misinterpreted as them not feeling so deeply.”
She continues: “In my experience, female partners are often assumed to be good at coping, just by virtue of the fact they are a woman – so they are ignored, too. Partners can be out of sync with their feelings, and being open and honest with each other about them is so important if they are to help each other.”
Complete Article ↪HERE↩!