Life After Pregnancy Loss

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As I begin, I first want to offer my sincere sympathy to those who know the searing pain of pregnancy loss. It’s completely tragic, devastating and leaves the heart longing for what might have been. I personally know this gut-wrenching pain and have come alongside loved ones as they too have walked down this painful path. My heart goes out to you and I am so sorry we share the familiar pain of pregnancy loss in our motherhood journey.

I remember those early days and weeks after our losses so vividly. Our family and friends loved us so well during this dark time and I will be forever grateful to them. The meals, phone calls, cards and drop-ins all came from such a good place and touched our hearts. But, as the world moved forward, seemingly without us, my husband and I drew back further in the safety of isolation. We were devastated, confused about our pregnancy loss, and uncertain about the future of our family.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. No formula for navigating the pain or comprehensive self-help book for facing the days ahead. Everyone’s grief journey will look different. For my husband and I, the most important part was that we actually faced our grief and dealt with it. We knew that we could either walk through it now or be forced to confront it down the road. Although as we lived it out, coping with and expressing our grief seemed to be all over the board, looking back I can categorize it into three areas: Community, Hearts & Minds and Acknowledgement. 

On our journey to become parents, I was desperate to hear stories of others who had walked a similar path and had come out on the other side. I scoured the Internet seeking a glimmer of encouragement, to know I was not alone in our struggles. The stories of others’ pregnancy loss brought comfort, yet also sadness as I hated the reality that many couples knew our same pain. It’s my hope that by sharing some of the ways we worked through our sorrow and pain perhaps could provide some outlets for others grieving as well.

Community

Grief support group
Although we were hesitant to go, my husband and I found immense support through group therapy. Pregnancy and infant loss group was never a club we wanted to be part of, but when we found ourselves in that position, we were comforted and given hope by those who also knew the same type of pain.

Counseling
Finding the right fit with a counselor can take a bit of time, but making a good connection can truly support the healing process after pregnancy loss. My husband and I went to couples’ counseling and also received one-on-one support to talk through our grief and acquire tools for coping with the pain.
 
One another
My husband and I quickly realized that the two of us now shared a unique part of our story that only we could fully understand. We gave ourselves permission to grieve in whatever ways necessary to face our pain and committed to being there for one another. We chose to support, love, and accept one another through this process. 

Heart & Mind

No shoulds
There were so many things I felt like I should do but just didn’t want to. My counselor advised me that in grief, there are “no shoulds.” This really gave me the freedom to say no or skip outings or activities that I just couldn’t bring myself to do. And, it was OK. In navigating grief, there is no formula or precise plan to get to the other side. That being said, it’s important to do what you need to do during this time. Accept your needs and what supports your personal healing process.
 
Loss cannot be compared
Loss is loss and cannot and should not be compared. As unique as each of us are, our struggles and pain are also unique to our own circumstances and life path. Empathy and acceptance toward those walking through their grief is always a good approach.
 
Reading
I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like to but during my intense seasons of grief, I plowed through book after book. I was looking for stories of hope, resources for grief support, and just plain grasping for straws of comfort. And frankly, sometimes reading would just give me a brief escape from my circumstances. Wrestling and honesty
 
My husband and I wrestled with our grief and pain constantly. We grappled with each other, God, and people close to us. We didn’t understand it, but talking about it honestly and wrestling through the confusing feelings was helpful for us both. 

Acknowledgment

Honoring loss
Doing anything normal or fun just didn’t seem right for quite a while after our losses. It was hard to find joy and happiness while we still felt the intense pain of loss. We eventually learned from others that we can still lovingly remember those we missed dearly by being intentional in honoring them. Finding something meaningful to us to incorporate into our daily routine gave us permission to live life, but also acknowledge our losses. It’s different for everyone, but for us, it was lighting a candle and reciting a special prayer together before bed.

“Why” to “what now”
Asking “why” is a very natural question to ask during grief. I struggled with this seemingly simple question for quite some time. We learned though, that getting stuck in the “why” can really prevent forward movement. Moving from “why” to “what now” can help bring meaning and put the next steps in action.

Grief never ends
Someone explained to me that after loss, you’re left with a hole in your heart. Sometimes that hole feels incredibly present and painful and other days you merely know it’s there. I accept that I’ll always have a longing and carry a sadness for what was taken from me too soon. I’ve found meaning in the grieving process and realize that it is now a part of the story that makes me who I am. 

We’re all in this together. If you have some encouraging words of hope or tools or actions helpful in the grieving process, would you be so kind as to share in the comments? 
 
For more information on grieving pregnancy loss, click here
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Emily Bice grew up in a small, Ohio farming community west of Columbus. It wasn't until she met her college sweetheart and future husband that her mind was opened to living elsewhere. They say love makes you do crazy things which lead Emily and her Texan husband to living in Central America for two years. After much adventure and traveling, she ended up back in Columbus where the real adventure began: motherhood. She is the mom of two young boys and an infant daughter and wife to the ultimate man's man. She's living her dream as a stay at home mom but will be the first to admit that she is far from having it all figured out. Her hardest parenting moments are typically around nap time and bedtime and after particularly rough episodes she can be found online shopping. In a former chapter of life, Emily worked in non-profit raising funds and awareness for important causes. Today, she spends her time playing and snuggling with her three children, traveling to and from her husband's lacrosse company's events and socializing with friends and family. When she has any free time, she usually wastes it trying to figure out what to do.