Updated: Jun 26, 2022
When a woman discovers she is pregnant, excitement quickly begins to bubble inside her belly as she looks forward to bringing her new bundle of joy into the world. Her mind immediately starts to envision a life with her newborn child, as she prepares for their arrival.
“Is it a boy or girl?” she wonders.
“Let’s start making arrangements for their room,” she tells her partner.
The planning is well underway until the unexpected happens. Something is wrong, and the mom fears that it is more than just a bad stomach ache. After going for an emergency checkup, the doctor tells her four words that she never wanted to hear.
“You’re having a miscarriage,” the gynecologist says. And suddenly, her dreams of bringing a new addition to the family grow faint.
This is an all too familiar story, with 10-20 percent of pregnancies ending in a miscarriage.
For the expecting mommy and her partner, the experience of a pregnancy loss can be devastating, leaving her with significant grief, pain, and a litany of unanswered questions.
Even if the expecting mother believes in God and turns to her Creator for strength in times of trouble, it doesn’t stop her from wondering, “why would God allow this to happen?
Her questions for God might be followed with questions directed towards herself, such as…
“Did I do something wrong to cause this loss?” “Is there something wrong with me?” “If I get pregnant again, will the same thing happen?”
These questions and so many others can bring about feelings of shame and fear, making the road towards healing an uphill battle.
And unfortunately, the grief journey for someone who had a miscarriage can be lonely.
Unlike a public loss of a person who was once living and others knew, the loss of an unborn child is private and personal in nature. But even though the type of loss is different, it doesn’t make the loss any less severe. In some cases, depending on the nature of the pregnancy loss, this experience can actually be a traumatic event in the lives of the expecting parents.
For this reason, it is imperative that the expecting mother, and their partner, receive the support that they need.
Although no one's healing journey is the same, Dr. Tiffany Edwards, licensed clinical psychologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois (FCI), shared some helpful steps on the Faith on the Journey Podcast to help someone who experienced a pregnancy loss heal.
Step 1: Don’t share until you are ready.
When you first find out you’re expecting, it is natural to want to share the great news with your friends and family. But after having a miscarriage, informing those same people of your loss can be extremely difficult. Don’t feel pressured to share the news of the loss until you are ready, and you are definitely not obligated to update everyone on what you experienced. If they are in your circle, they will find out in due time. Take your time with disclosing this loss. You are the first priority. Take the time you need to process the loss and grieve.
Step 2: Know what support you need after your miscarriage and communicate that.
When you are finally ready to share what you experienced with others, those around you will have a variety of responses. Some will go into “fix-it mode,” where they try to take action to make you feel better. Others might feel led to share their own personal stories around having a miscarriage or similar experience in hopes of extending a level of comfort to you. Although their responses might be well-intentioned, they might not be what you need at that moment. For this reason, you need to identify the way you want people to support you before engaging in those conversations. And once you know what you need, communicate that with others.
For example, if the loss is fresh, you might not be ready to talk about it with friends and family. In those cases, it is nothing wrong with saying,
“I appreciate your concerns, but I’m not ready to talk about it yet, and I would just ask that you give me the time and space I need to process the loss.”
It is also reasonable for you to convey to someone who has experienced a miscarriage that you are not quite ready yet to hear about their pregnancy loss story and would just appreciate it if they would be a listening ear. Set boundaries with those around you, and do not be afraid to convey what you need.
Step 3: Don’t rush the grieving process.
A pregnancy loss can be a significant blow. Some women can find themselves depressed. Others have a hard time completing normal tasks, or even struggle to sleep at night. These are normal grief responses.
The healing process after a loss takes time, and it can be tempting to try to quickly bypass the grieving process. Resist the urge to rush this process, and allow yourself the time you need to grieve. Similar to what you would do if you were grieving the loss of someone who was once living, your loss is worthy of receiving the same amount of care.
Dr. Edwards said, “You’ve heard the quote, do unto others as you would do for yourself. Let’s flip that quote, and remember that we need to do for ourselves as we would do unto others.”
In other words, sometimes we can show more compassion and understanding towards others than we do for ourselves. As we navigate this grief journey, we must be kind to ourselves and consider our own emotional needs.
Step 4: Find safe spaces to share your pain
Carrying the grief of this loss alone can be incredibly lonely, so you need to find safe spaces to share what is in your heart. An excellent place to start is by sharing how you feel with your partner. In some cases, your partner might not know how deeply it’s affecting you, nor do they know if you are up for talking about the loss. Remember, the partner of the expecting mother also experienced a loss. Maintaining open communication with your partner regarding what you feel and need can help you both to feel supported and begin to heal.
It is also crucial for you to connect with a professional counselor who will work with you to process the loss's impact on your life. Although one might typically go to your friends or family for support, your loved ones are not trained professionals equipped to help you process this difficult experience. A professional counselor will give you the space you need to wrestle with difficult questions, sit with you in your pain, and provide you with practical tools to help you to heal after this loss. Finding the right counselor can be a challenge sometimes, but once you connect with one who resonates with you, you will be equipped with the support and tools you need to make significant steps forward on your healing journey.
If you are looking for a Christian Counselor to support you on your healing journey, schedule a free consultation with us at faithonthejourney.org/counseling.