Dear Dr. Michelle:
I recently had a miscarriage and I am having a really hard time getting over it. People act like it’s not a big deal and don’t understand why I would be grieving. They ask me how many months I was pregnant and when they find out it was 12-weeks, they make it seem like I wasn’t that far along, and I should be fine. I’m starting to pull away from people because nobody understands. My husband is trying to be comforting, which is nice, but his family thinks I am just trying to seek attention. How do I help people understand the effect this is having on me?
I am truly sorry for your grief and loss. It is painful to lose somebody. I am glad to hear that your husband is being so understanding and trying to support you, particularly at a time when others do not understand your pain.
Having a miscarriage is grief worthy. It is as much of a loss as any other and it has some additional factors that can impact the grieving experience.
For those who already have children, they know the joy and love that comes from having a baby. A miscarriage can be a reminder of the joy and love that was lost, and this realization can compound the level of grief.
Another factor with miscarriage grief is the fear or concern that it could happen again. It creates a level of uncertainly about whether you will have a baby in the future. In other words, grieving a miscarriage can be about losing the baby, in addition to grieving the unknown.
Last, being pregnant and then having a miscarriage creates physical and hormonal changes in the body that cannot be underestimated. These changes can impact our thoughts and feelings, which potentially can heighten our level of grief even further. Not only do you need to emotionally heal from the loss, but your body needs the time to physically heal.
Navigating the Grieving Process
It is often very difficult for people to understand other’s grief, particularly if they have not had the same experience. We all tend to grieve differently and there is no right or wrong way to feel about loss. Try to manage your own expectations of others needing to understand your experience. Not everybody will understand what you are going through.
Below are a few ways to help you navigate your grieving process:
- Allow yourself to let their lack of understanding go and instead focus on what you need to take care of yourself. Give yourself the gift of accepting how you feel and be true to your own experience.
- Including people in our grief process when they do not empathize could only compound our grief.
- To help set aside other people’s opinions, try to be selective about who you tell about your experience. If your in-laws do not understand your experience, avoid talking to them about it and keep subjects and conversation light.
- Consider doing a daily journal and write about your feelings, including fears and concerns you may have related to the miscarriage. Your grief needs to be felt and expressed and journaling can be an effective way to work through the process.
- If you have not already created a ceremony, consider doing something special to commemorate the baby and your loss.
Remember, it is important for you to take care of yourself. If your grief is constant and remains heightened over several months, or if it is interfering with completing your daily routine then I recommend you seek therapy for extra support.
Dear Dr. Michelle blog posts are informational in nature. The posts are not meant to take the place of consulting your physician, mental health professional, or other qualified health providers regarding your well-being or the well-being of others. Submitting a question does not establish a client/therapist relationship.
Submit Your Question on mental health and/or family relations to Dr. Michelle K. Murray.