There are many of us on the Charleston Moms team who have experienced some type of loss, whether it be from a miscarriage, stillborn, or infant or child loss. And we have been vocal about our losses with the hopes of connecting and finding solace with our readers. It’s truly empowering to be able to share something knowing that it touches someone, or that they went through a similar thing. There are many, many women who have experienced loss in their lives around pregnancy and childbirth.
Sadly, it’s more common than one would imagine.
Going through a loss is hard enough on any female, but hearing the wrong things during or after that time can have really powerful effects on us. Here is some information that I have been able to gather to help those if even in the slightest way, deal with hearing things that may hurt them after a loss, as well as some suggestions on coping during this time. I know from personal experience that any loss can be debilitating at times, and it often leaves you with more confusion and questions than anything else.
What to say, and not to say, to someone going through a loss
- Let’s first be mindful of what we can say to others going through a loss. When I had my blighted ovum loss, my doctor immediately said “at least there wasn’t a developed fetus.” Those words crushed my heart and I defensively fought back. I instinctively replied, “How can you say the words “at least” to me?” There’s no at least anything. Then I thought about how many other women have heard the words, “at least you were only six weeks along, or at least you have a child already”. Saying those words minimize anything that you just went through, both physically and mentally. It makes it feel as if this loss wasn’t important. Although people’s intentions may be good, it still makes it seem as if that life that was taken too soon meant nothing.
- Hearing the terms “nature’s way” or “you can try again” may seem like a good thing to say, but can have a huge effect on a grieving mother. No one wants to think that something could have been wrong with their child to cause “nature” to take care of it. And the thought of trying again is terrifying after a loss. The thought of starting over can be overwhelming and dreadful.
Those are just some of the words many women hear after a loss. No loss should ever be seen as if it didn’t matter. A loss is a loss, and it takes a huge toll on the mother and those around her. If you do hear comments that hurt you, try to look beyond them. Think about who the person is saying it, and what you think that their true motives may be. Emotions and hormones run rampant after any type of loss, and things can easily be misunderstood if not very carefully said/approached.
Some ways to cope with a loss that helped me
- Let yourself grieve and include your other children (if you have any) in this process. Giving yourself the much needed time to grieve and accept will help the mind immensely. You are going through the stages of grief and allowing yourself to feel all the emotions needed in order to heal.
- Writing in a journal helps express how you feel at any moment and about any type of loss. You’re able to cry or scream or be angry and put it all on paper, who can always take the brunt. This is why writing about my miscarriage to share with everyone helped heal and helped me remember what I had been through. It made me stronger reading and re-reading all that had happened.
- Ask questions and educate yourself on the answers. For example, blighted ovums, although surprisingly common, can leave you with so many questions. Learning and teaching yourself as much as possible may just help you to understand and relate to a friend going through something similar.
- Seek a support group and talk with others. Sharing your experience and loss with someone who went through the same thing can be so fulfilling, and make you feel less alone. Hug one another and cry if need be. It will almost always make you feel better mourning with others who have been through similar things.
- Never forget the loss of a child. Keep the child in your family celebrations and talk about them with other children you may have (if you’re comfortable). Don’t ever feel pressured to put away that child’s things until you are ready, not when people tell you “it’s time”. There’s never a time to do that, nor should anyone tell you that there needs to be. Also, keeping a memory box or album of certain items can help allow you to feel and embrace everything you remember and went through, in a good way.
- Take the time needed to bond with your spouse or significant other. Yes, any loss is a challenge for the mother but it will also affect those around you. Nurture your bond with that significant other, even if it’s spending hours hugging and crying together. Words don’t always have to be spoken and can sometimes be taken in the wrong context, but the simplicity of being and touching can help mend broken hearts.
While there are many things that can help you cope with a loss, please remember that every loss is important. Take the time needed for healing, grieving, and feeling, and know that the only timeline you need to follow is your own.