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Grieving Pregnancy Loss

Not every woman wants a child, but those who do want a child deep within their core. Not every man wants a child, but those who do can vividly imagine their child snuggling in daddy's arms. Not every couple wants a child, but those who do dream of a little one with whom they can share love for many years to come.

The loss of a child, born or unborn, is devastating to those who have already come to love it. It doesn't matter that your child was alive for a moment, a day, a month, nine months or nine years. When you are a parent, you love as a parent. There is nothing loving parents would not do to preserve the life of their child. But when a child's life is ended before it begins, parents are often alone to grieve.

Grieving is not just feeling sad, it is a specific psychological process by which you become able to cope with loss and reinvest your love in the living. The only way through grief is to give yourself time and allow yourself to work through the pain. Unhealed grief can lead to depression, discomfort in close relationships and even unexplained anger. It is important that you acknowledge your grief, and take time to allow yourself to heal. Denying it, trying to minimize it, or escaping it will only leave your emotional recovery unfinished.

The amount of grieving a person must do is very individual, and there are both physical and emotional effects. No one should criticize another person's grief. Allow it to unfold without judgement, and it will move itself through the stages. While these stages are universal, each person experiences the stages in their own way and at their own pace. This is why each stage has several different names. People may be dealing with the same loss and pain, but in slightly different ways.

Stages of Grief
Denial, disbelief, shock, numbness You are in shock. You try to block out the pain by refusing to accept the reality of the loss.
Anger, yearning, searching You've accepted it, and now you're angry. Furious! You may be angry with yourself for not controlling the situation better. Or you're looking for someone to blame. You are looking for a way out of the loss and pain.
Despair, depression, disorganization The loss has sunk in. You cannot imagine yourself ever getting over it, of being able to get on with your life. You feel unable to face life, let alone figure out a way back to any sort of normalcy.
Acceptance, reorganization You have finally accepted the loss. You know your life has been changed, possibly forever. You now start to pick up the pieces and push yourself to get on with your life.
New identity The loss and grieving, the entire experience, has changed you. You have grown. You are now ready to start living your life with joy again.

Grieving is not an overnight process. It can last for weeks, months, perhaps even longer. Many people find it helpful to see a counselor or therapist while they are grieving. Others find help in support groups. Family members and friends can also be of help, if they also understand the process of grief you are going through and can be supportive in different ways as you transition through the stages.

As time passes, those who have lost a child during pregnancy or soon after its birth can usually accept and 'let go' of these memories in their daily life, but their sense of great loss does not necessarily end. It is true that conscious memory can fade, but deep emotional memory is carried forever. Despite the advances of medical science and technology which support life, we remain vunerable and human.

Grandmother's Gift

At 90 years old, grandmother remembered of the loss of her son born 63 years ago. He had not lived long after birth. While she never spoke of this child to us, we all knew 'grandma had a son once'.

In the years since, 'grandma' lived her life as a happy, satisfied woman with 3 healthy daughters and 19 grandchildren. Life appeared fulfilled and good for her as she aged. But the tragic death of one of her great grandchildren triggered her memory, a deep emotional memory, of the incredible pain and agony she suffered at the time of her infant's death. As her granddaughter was overcome with grief for her lost child, grandmother was also inconsolable as she spent time remembering the loss of her own son so many years ago.

The emotional experience of her memory was real but, when her pain ended, grandmother was able to comfort and hold her granddaughter. Together they shared grief, but grandmother also knew life ahead for her young granddaughter would one day bring her much joy and laughter again.

The gift of this knowledge she shared.

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