Family & Education

Family Matters: When will I feel ready to move on after having a miscarriage?

The grieving process differs vastly for each person and often does not fit with our deadlines or society’s expectations of when it begins and ends


Sad person dealing with loss and psychological trauma

Q: I lost my baby, when will I feel like normal again? I have two children and was pregnant with my third when I lost the baby after only 3 months.

We are quite private people and hadn’t told anyone that I was pregnant. I know that I am lucky to have other children and it’s not like the baby was even born before we lost him.

It’s been a few months and I should be able to move on by now, but I just can’t. Will I ever feel like my old self again?

A: I am so sorry to hear about your loss.
From your question you sound frustrated with yourself, expecting to move on from your loss relatively quickly. For some people, this is the case.

But unfortunately, there are no rules about grief; how intense it feels or how long it lasts. The grieving process differs vastly for each person and often does not fit with our deadlines or society’s expectations of when it begins and ends.

Similarly, grief is often not a linear process, and feelings of loss can return long after you think you are ‘back to normal’. For example, you may feel very low around what would have been your due date or when you meet other pregnant women or even years later when your baby would have been barmitzvah.

It is most helpful to stop judging yourself about the way you are managing your loss and give yourself permission to feel sad for as long as it takes to grieve.
Early pregnancy loss is extremely common, with one in four women experiencing a miscarriage. Following pregnancy loss many people feel that they are not entitled to grieve.

After all, as you mention, you have other living children and you lost your baby before he was even born. There is also a lack of recognition of your loss by others, especially if you have not disclosed your pregnancy. However, thinking in this way overlooks the significant emotional impact of losing a baby.

Not only did you lose your baby, you lost all your expectations that naturally accompany any pregnancy. The excitement about how to tell the other children, the grandparents, about what your family of five will look like, about how you will all celebrate the baby’s milestones and live together as a bigger family.

All these hopes accumulate in the run up to conception and week by week of the pregnancy, making the weight of your subsequent grief and disappointment heavier and more painful. You are not only grieving what you had, you are grieving what could have been.
Parents often feel different types of emotions during the grieving process such as sadness, disappointment, anger and guilt.

Many mothers often blame themselves for the loss. These feelings often don’t make sense but are a normal part of the grieving process. You will need to talk them through with someone, to process and come to terms with them.

You mention that you are private people, but it is worth thinking about one or two confidantes with whom you feel comfortable sharing your experiences as grieving is easier when you can put your feelings into words and when you feel less alone.

As a couple, you may have different grieving styles but try to share your feelings with each other when possible. There are also support groups available that you might find helpful.
You ask when you will feel normal again.

I’ve mentioned that grief takes longer for some than for others. But I would also ask you to think about your expectation of returning to your “old self” again. Loss may affect you deeply and you might start to develop a “new self’”going forward: you may form a different approach to life, to children or to coping.

You have become a different person — someone who has lived through this difficult time and has experienced what this loss has meant for you and your family. Being open about who you will become will help manage your expectations so that you can have more self-acceptance and treat yourself with the compassion that you need.

Finally, it is important to remember that if your sadness is so intense and ongoing that it is interfering with your daily functioning, you should visit your GP and think about more significant support.

In the meantime, be kind to yourself during this time of loss, connect with others when you are ready and allow yourself to acknowledge and verbalise your different feelings as they arise. Grieving is not a straightforward journey and I wish you the support that you need to feel more comfort in the months and years ahead.

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