Although 10-25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, there is little information out there on how to navigate the devastation that often follows in its wake.
Someone who knows this first-hand is counsellor Karin Holmes. After losing her own baby before the 20-week mark, she was inspired to write a book on the subject to support other grieving mothers. Here are her best tips for beginning the healing process.
1.) Acknowledge your loss
Sound weird? It might be but hear me out. A loss in early pregnancy (the first three months) is looked at as nothing special. It’s ‘very common’ as many well-meaning and ignorant people tell us. While it is true that a miscarriage is common, it doesn’t mean we have to discount them. A miscarriage is a real loss, a real death. Don’t give in to the people who want you to think otherwise. The first step to healing is to know that, yes, this loss is real and you are entitled to your grief, in whatever shape it comes.
2.) Pick a ritual
A miscarriage is a complicated loss. We have lost someone we love so much but have never met. It leaves a special void in our hearts and souls. There are often not many memories to hold on to and to find comfort in. Therefore, it is very important to find a ritual to remember this little life and to create memories. This can be lighting a candle on their due date, plant a tree or create a garden or make a scrapbook to reflect your journey and emotions. The one rule to follow is – do what feels right for you.
3.) Give it time
Just like any other loss, a miscarriage needs time. Time to process, time to heal, time to remember. There is the expectation that women have to just ‘get over it’ but that is nonsense. Take all the time you need to grieve, to be sad, to be upset and to heal.
4.) Get creative.
Suffering a loss like miscarriage is so confusing and profoundly upsetting. It changes everything. And the emotions that come with it are just too much to handle sometimes. When we can put them into words, start writing, drawing or painting about them. Let those emotions flow out of you so you can get a break from all the tears.
Miscarriage is first and foremost on many occasions a very lonely experience. We were pregnant one day and the next we are not. It is very, very important to connect with the right people – fellow sufferers who understand what you are going through. They will listen and support you and give you strength to face the outside world again.
6.) Self care
After a miscarriage, many women experience many conflicting emotions such as disappointment, anger and maybe even disgust at our own bodies for having failed us. While these thoughts and emotions are normal, it is important to keep them in check. Self-care is absolutely crucial after a loss like miscarriage. We have been through a traumatic experience and we deserve a break. Go and have a spa day, get a massage, buy something nice for yourself. You deserve it.
7.) Be outside
Life after loss often takes place in our own four walls, preferably in bed. That is completely fine for these first raw hours and weeks even where we are trying to make sense of what just happened. It is important though to try and get out – slowly but surely. Not amongst people though. Start with a short walk in nature, along the beach or the trees. You will be surprised how healing the feeling of the sun on your skin can be.
How to survive a miscarriage (RRP $18.99) addresses the emotional and physical implications of pregnancies lost before the 20th week. It guides grieving mothers through the dark times of loss towards purposeful and gentle healing with strategies for coping with sadness and guilt, suggestions for rituals, and advice on getting through subsequent pregnancies.