Losing or miscarrying a baby are heartbreaking experiences, and many moms who go through them find that the pain only deepens if they don't take the time to fully acknowledge and work through their losses. But as Jayne S.'s questions to other Circle of Moms members reveal, there's not much of a script to follow for moms grieving a lost baby or miscarried pregnancy: “Does anyone tell others about their babies’ important dates or do they keep it to themselves?” she wonders aloud. "Are you supposed to never talk about it?"
1. Don't Hide the Pain
When Kellie W. lost her daughter to a rare illness less than two weeks after her birth, she thought she was supposed to hide the pain and “be strong.” Now, she feels that this was a mistake: “It’s the biggest and most painful thing I can imagine I’m going to have to do my whole life,” she says. “People were saying how strong I was being, keeping my head high, [while] inside I felt totally ripped apart. I wish I could have told people at the time how I really felt. It only started feeling better when I went to a counselor and stopped shoving the feelings inside. I should have let people know the pain I was going through.”
Jennie W., who lost her 15-month-old son to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also wishes she had shared her true emotions with others instead of burying them. She advises other moms who have lost babies: “Your feelings are completely normal and you should not have to tell people that you are fine. Sometimes I found it easier to talk to a strangers. I should not have been telling people I was fine when I was far from that."
Losing a baby is not something you get over, reminds Sharon P. “Even strong people hurt,” agrees Sharon P., whose son died during labor. "What I have finally realized is that I can be honest about how I feel and okay with that, without giving people all the details. Now, when someone asks how I'm doing, instead of saying ‘good,’ I say something like ‘I have good days and I have bad days...today is hard, or today is good.’ Or, I say: 'It's really hard but I'm making it'.”
2. Seek Out a Safe Person to Confide In
The loss of a baby isn’t something a mom can get over lightly, and many Circle of Moms members have found it helpful to talk to a professional about their grief. Summer N. feels you should pick your shoulder to cry on carefully: “It can be therapeutic to talk about it, but know that people often don’t know what to say or do and leave you feeling more sad or depressed," he says, adding that she's been through some really challenging things since the loss of her baby, "and nothing comes close.”
Jayne S. agrees, suggesting that moms seek out "safe" people, "because it can hurt worse if others don’t understand." She recommends professional counselors. “I have now got to a point of not telling anyone about anything because it makes them feel uncomfortable and they don't know what say, so they avoid me." Edis K. agrees, suggesting that moms seeks out people "[who] have been where you are now.” After weeping for days, "the one thing that helped me was stopping by a church and meeting with a female reverend," she shares.
Susan H. employs an “only if they ask” policy of sharing. “I will tell people about the loss of my daughter only if they ask,” she says. “It makes me feel good when someone asks about my precious angel. I know my family doesn't talk about my daughter much and it hurts me more that they don't, but I know they just aren't sure how to talk about it, even after two years.”
3. Find Your Own Way To Heal
Everyone handles loss differently. For some moms, it feels good to talk to others. Others prefer to keep that conversation within the family, says Christine S., and that's okay, too: “My family and closest friends are the only ones who know, and my husband and daughter and I are the only ones who celebrate [our lost child's] birthday. I don't feel it's necessary for anyone else to know unless they ask. My boss doesn't even know. She just knows that I ask for the same days off every year."
4. Create a Goodbye Ritual
The grieving process involves saying goodbye, says Daisy E., who suffered through two miscarriages. She's one of several moms in our communities who've created rituals and special ways to pay tribute to the babies they lost too soon. In Daisy's case, her husband bought her charms to honor each of the two babies. “That Christmas (following the loss of the first baby), my husband sent me some roses at work with a little box tucked in it. In the box was a tiny peanut charm to add to my new charm bracelet. It was a bit bitter sweet to get it, but now I'm at a place that when I miss Peanut I rub the little charm. Having the chance to say goodbye and sorry made a huge difference.”
5. Mark the Milestones
One way to pay tribute to the significance of the baby you lost is to mark the milestones that would have been, says Karen A., who celebrates what would have been the birthday of her twins. “I want to have a special remembrance of my little angels,” she says. Tasauna E. agrees: “Instead of being filled with unbearable sorrow, I feel warmth and undying love remembering him. I don't think there will ever be such a thing as long enough to stop remembering and celebrating.”
Many moms feel the same way. Julie W. and her family celebrate their baby Jack’s would-have-been birthdays every year, “by buying a new Bonsai and lighting a small candle for him.” For Kerrin B. and her husband, visiting her daughter's last resting place is soothing: “This year being our first anniversary, we went out to the lake at the memorial park where our daughter's ashes were scattered. My husband and I then just spent the day together.” And Laurie D. shares that her family “buys balloons and attaches messages to them and lets them go."
How have you found ways to cope with the loss of a baby?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.