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After your stillbirth

Partner grief

Parents often go through pregnancy loss in different ways because they have a different bond with the baby. A mother may connect with her baby as soon as she knows she's pregnant. She may spend a lot of time thinking about the baby and her physical changes. In the early stages, a father or partner may experience the pregnancy only through the mother's eyes. Some partners may feel more involved or more attached as the pregnancy develops.

It can be hard to understand or relate to your partner at this time. This is normal. Try not to judge your partner's reactions and understand that you may each be dealing with your grief in a different way. One partner may not be considering or recognizing their grief right away. One partner may cry and want to talk about the baby, their hopes, and their dreams. The other partner may cope through distraction. They may return to work sooner, work longer hours, or busy themselves with sports or hobbies.

Some people grieve in private. This may cause the other partner to feel even more alone. Others may want to join support groups and talk about their loss with others who have had a similar loss. Even if you have different ways of grieving, you may find comfort in knowing that your partner is grieving too. This thought may help you feel less isolated. Remember there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Learn more about the grief journey and how you feel grief.

It's OK to talk to others about how you feel, especially your partner. Grief is hard to talk about. However, putting off grief only means that you'll have to deal with it later on. It can also make your partner feel like they're the only one who is grieving. This can also make both partners feel more alone.

Remember that everyone experiences grief in their own unique way. Some people process their grief through their emotions (feeling style), others through their thoughts (thinking style) or actions (doing style). Many people have a blended style of feeling, thinking, and doing. You and your partner may have different styles. Your partner might try to cope with feelings by thinking and doing. Doing something makes it feel like they can carry on or fix the situation.

You and your partner can help each other and connect in caring, meaningful ways during this difficult time. Accept help and support that is offered by your family and friends. Learn about your emotional health and finding emotional support

Grief and your relationship

When a couple experiences the loss of a baby, both parents are affected. Often, the person you have come to rely on most, your partner, may not be able to respond or support you. Each person tries to deal with their loss and grief in their own way. While each person experiences the loss, the timing of grief and the expression of grief may be quite different.

Tips to help you cope​

  • Accept that your partner's way of dealing with grief will be different from yours.
  • You will both have had dreams and hopes for your baby. Sharing your dreams can give you insight into each other's feelings and the nature of your partner’s loss.
  • This can be a difficult time for families. Being open and communicating are the keys to helping your relationship become deeper as you both heal.
  • Your partner cannot be your only supporter. Look for support from friends, family, clergy, support groups, or from professional counsellors.
  • Work at talking about your thoughts, feelings, needs, and emotions.
  • Stress in your sexual relationship may develop. Approach your partner with understanding and compassion.
  • Grief affects people and changes them. Give each other time to accept these changes.
  • Give yourself and your partner permission to enjoy life. Even though you are experiencing loss, don’t expect to be sad all the time. Share the laughter as well as the tears.
  • Search for ways to nurture yourself.
  • Take time for each other. Set a time to talk each day.
Find more strategies for coping.​

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