Expert / 16 May, 2023 / My Baba
Lianna Champ, author of How to Grieve Like A Champ talks to us about pregnancy grief. Lianna has over 40 years of experience as a grief and funeral care specialist.
Of all the people on our planet, no two are exactly alike. We may share similar traits and a gene pool, but each of us is miraculously a total ‘one-off.’ Each relationship we have is unique too. All we need to do is look at our relationship with our parents or, if we have siblings – we love them equally but have a completely different relationship with each of them.
When we decide we want to have a baby or we learn that we are pregnant, our relationship with our own special, unique baby begins. It takes place in our heads and our hearts and we weave their personality, imagining them at different stages and milestones. We are, in fact, trying to write their life story before they are born.
Losing a baby in the womb steals a huge chunk of our past, our present and our future and no matter how early or late in the pregnancy the loss occurs, it does not change the intensity of the pain. The intensity of the loss is extremely personal, devastating and overwhelming. It can also be compounded by the fact that those around you may not have known that you were pregnant, and therefore may not understand or recognise that you are grieving a loss – a loss which is just as real as any other death. We love our children well before they are born. We love them even though we never met them and yet we know them with every fibre of our being. They are woven into our veins.
Each time we suffer any loss our grief is a totally personal and unique experience, as individual to each of us as our own fingerprint. This uniqueness means that no two people will react to the same loss in exactly the same way. There are no stages to grief and even though we may share similar emotions to others, the grief journey for us all is ours alone. There are also fluctuations in our hormones which, added to the mix, takes us away from any expected feelings. Grief really does feel like a period of temporary insanity.
And as individual as we are, there are other factors which also affect us in our grief – the things we learned about loss growing up, where we are at in our lives and also our values and beliefs and the coping mechanisms we have been taught or learned to use.
Many women say they feel guilty when they lose a baby and replay their pregnancy again and again, looking for something they wish they could change. Others seem able to eventually come to an understanding of what has happened and take a philosophical view. There is no timeline to our grief and we live with this baby loss forever, building our life around our hopes and dreams for our baby.
Seeing other expectant mums can also rouse feelings of anger and jealousy, or you can see expectant mothers and think how lucky they are. All these feelings are normal and will pass as you live through and come to accept what has happened. Regardless of what life throws at us, we never stay in the same state indefinitely, and we fluctuate in and out of all our emotions. That is human. It is normal and healthy. However, if you find yourself unable to find any joy in anything and resist getting back into the mainstream of living months after your loss, it may indicate that you need to seek some professional help.
Men may face different challenges in baby loss too, and there can be an expectation to support their partner and be the one who holds everything together. It’s heartbreaking to watch their partner’s life shatter while their life has been shattered too. But the truth is you cannot be anything for anyone. All you can be is honest about how you feel and to share your feelings with honesty. Even though you are both grieving the loss of your baby, your feelings and emotions will be totally unique to you. It is important to understand that we each feel differently through our losses and to allow each other to express whatever feelings come up, without comparing. Comparisons just minimise the importance of each others feelings. Every bond of love we share is unique, and so are our reactions and feelings. What’s important is to give yourself time to grieve so you can heal both physically and emotionally.
Being with others and hearing about their experiences of baby loss can be a great support. Saying Goodbye is an excellent resource following babying child loss.
Article by Lianna Champ
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