Photo Courtesy of Commons.wikimedia.org, Creative Commons
By: Rebeca Meyer LPC-Intern Supervised by Beth Ann Contreras, MMFT, LMFT-S, LPC-S.
Pregnancy is a time to enjoy the beautiful miracle of creation taking place within a woman. It is truly remarkable to wake up every morning to this living being inside me, kicking me so that he can get his breakfast. I am stilled by it and moved by the fact that pregnancy can take place at all.
The other side of the coin is a plethora of pregnancy problems that can cause a woman to lose that precious life within and it can happen to anyone at anytime. What to do then? None of my apps have covered this. Many people don’t acknowledge this, but stillbirth, or miscarriage or the death of a child in utero have rocked the lives of countless women and their families. There are no funerals, eulogies, flowers sent, food prepared for the families who lose a baby in miscarriage.
Yet, why don’t people talk about it? Why do women feel like they have to hide the cold and painful fact of losing a baby? A friend of mine recently lost a baby. She was past the supposed “risk period” of 12 weeks. Naturally, this loss is shocking, painful and will take time to work through, regardless of how long the baby was there. To women facing this loss, I say get help, gather your true supporters about you, talk about it, get counseling, join a group, write about it, cry about it as much as you want to and treat your loss like a true loss. You should not be expected to be ok after a loss like you have faced. Help others understand where you are in your grief. Maybe you are not feeling a great deal of grief. That is more than ok too. Every person faces loss differently.
What do you say to a woman who has lost her unborn anyway? I can tell you what not to say. “Don’t worry you can have another baby.” Here are some things you can practice with those who are facing a loss of any kind.
1. Acknowledge the loss. Usually grieving people don’t offer up their pain as a subject of discussion.
2. Don’t say, “you’ll be ok.” This forces the griever to be in an emotional place they may not be in for a long time.
3. Open the door to communication with a statement like, “I’ve been thinking about you.”
4. Don’t say “Call me if you need anything”. This is just a vague conversation filler. Try offering something concrete like mowing their lawn or call and ask about what they need specifically.
5. Be there for her. Physical presence and contact offer what words cannot.
6. Talk about your losses and what helped you, but don’t overwhelm them. Leave room for them to speak or not speak with the art of silence.
7. Don’t rush her through the grief. It takes time for a person to heal. Imagine being in their place.
8. Be patient with her story of loss.
9. Don’t say “I know how you feel”. You actually don’t; you are not them.
10. Listen 80% of the time, talk 20% of the time and be genuine in all your communication.
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