Emotional and Physical Healing After Pregnancy Loss
Recovering emotionally and physically from pregnancy loss takes time. When you face a devastating loss you experience the grieving process, going through each one of the stages of shock and denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. Unfortunately, people can get stuck along the way.
If you recently suffered pregnancy loss, please remember that God sees and loves you. He knows your deepest desires, worries, and heartbreak. You can trust in Him even when it doesn’t feel that way.
Tips for healing after pregnancy loss.
Healing after a pregnancy loss has no rigid timeline. Some people heal faster than others. Some people continue to remember and celebrate the life of the child they lost decades later. Your healing journey will be what is best for you.
If you are married, express your emotions and thoughts with your husband. He is mourning the loss of the baby but in a different way. Husbands are not always sure how to handle a pregnancy loss since the child was inside you and not where they could interact with him or her. But he is still grieving the loss of life, the dream, and the future of a family.
Use this time to share and acknowledge the hurt and disappointment you both feel. Now is a time to grow in your emotional intimacy and rely on the strength of one another.
Below are several tips for honoring your body and your mental health as you walk through your grief.
Take it easy.
It is critical that you take it easy for your physical and emotional health and allow time to heal. Your doctor will probably ask you to refrain from exercise, sex, and other tasks for the next two to six weeks. This period allows your body the necessary time to heal physically.Emotional wounds seem to last longer. You may not be in a good place emotionally to resume your sexual intimacy or go back to work. You may need to ignore well-meaning people who think you should move on. These people may have never experienced a pregnancy loss, or their grieving process differs from yours.
Give yourself grace, not blame. So often, people blame themselves for the loss. They wonder, “What could I have done differently?” Ultimately, there is nothing to change these devastating circumstances. There needs to be acceptance of the loss to begin planning for the future.
Talk to someone you trust.
Everyone handles loss differently, but stuffing the pain deep inside will only lead to the disappointment manifesting in other ways, physically or mentally. If you do not feel comfortable talking about the pregnancy loss publicly, choose someone you are close to whom you can confide in. Allow yourself the opportunity to express your emotions. You need someone to stand by you while you pour your heart out.
This person can be a family member, a close friend, or a woman from church. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. It is not healthy to keep your sorrow locked up inside. By sharing the pain with someone you trust, you may find that you feel a little better.
Join a support group.
As many as 23 million miscarriages occur each year around the world. You are not alone. Women suffer pregnancy loss from a few weeks into the pregnancy up through the final 40th week. Some women suffer more than one pregnancy loss over their lifetime. When you are recovering from a loss, it is these women you may want to speak to hear their stories and know you are not alone.
You can likely find a pregnancy loss support group near you, possibly through your local hospital or counseling center. Women in these groups are in various stages of the grieving process and can offer insight into how they are healing. These groups are a private and safe place to share your pain.
Consider a ceremony or something memorable.Sometimes the pregnancy loss is so sudden that the parents do not have time to accept what has happened before they leave the hospital. They have no closure. Doing something memorable helps these parents process the loss.
You can have a small ceremony, a memorial service, a marker created, or plant a tree or flowers. This also gives you a place to return to when you want and honor that child’s memory. Even if the pregnancy ended in its eighth week, it was still your child. You are allowed to grieve for this child and honor them.
Walk to increase endorphins.
Once your doctor clears you for physical exercise, take it easy on yourself. Maybe try walking outdoors first. Fresh air and sunshine may boost your mood and make you happier. These things trigger the body to produce endorphins, and these chemicals act as our body’s antidepressants. Walking is an activity that most people can engage in without very many problems, making it a great exercise to get you started.
Pay attention to your surroundings. Often, people are in such a hurry that they dismiss the details. Stress makes it easy to overlook beautiful things in nature, like a spider’s intricate web in a tree or a Monarch butterfly. Breathe deeply on your walk as you appreciate the world around you.
Journal your thoughts and emotions.
If you are still on the fence about sharing the pregnancy loss with others, consider purchasing a journal and recording your thoughts and emotions. The page is nonjudgmental; it will not chide you for grieving too long or scold you for feeling something besides pain. Your journal is a place where you can release everything.
Journals are also good for noticing behavioral patterns. Is your grief triggering you to engage in other behaviors? Do you see a pattern between negative thoughts and your emotions? A counselor can provide you with more guidance, but if there are thoughts behind destructive behaviors, the link will need to be broken by reframing those thoughts or changing how you react to them.
Allow God to hold you.If you are in the anger phase of the grieving process, you may be blaming God for the loss. You may be asking Him why He took your child at this time. You won’t know those answers in this life. But you can rest knowing God has plans for you, and He cares for you.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
Even when you are disappointed, hurt, and angry, you can go to your Father and ask Him about it. It is in these moments when you are raw that God often speaks. It may not be audible. It may only be a prompting, or a quiet, still voice in your head. But God’s spirit can speak to you and comfort you.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles. – 2 Corinthians 1:3, NIV
Leaning into God and allowing Him to hold you through this season produces faith and an ability to heal and move forward. If it is God’s will for you to share your story with another woman who has experienced loss, then His spirit will prepare you emotionally and mentally to handle the task.
When you need help.
Sometimes the grief is too much to bear, causing you to withdraw from friends and family. You want to move forward, but you cannot see how that is possible. If that sounds like you, contact our counseling center today. We can put you in contact with a counselor specializing in pregnancy loss and grief. Do not suffer in silence. Let us help you.
“Forest Road”, Courtesy of Sebastian Unrau, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Tree Tops”, Courtesy of Casey Homer, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Mountain Lake and Boats”, Courtesy of Luca Bravo, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sunset”, Courtesy of John Towner, Unsplash.com, CC0 License