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After Your Miscarriage

The Grief Journey

​​​​Grief is a process. Feeling sad about the loss of the hopes and dreams you had for the baby is a normal part of this process. Learning to live with grief is an important part of healing. Many factors can affect how you grieve including:

  • your personality
  • whether you have other children
  • your culture
  • your religious beliefs
  • if you’ve had losses before
  • if your family has experienced grief before

It’s important to remember that grieving is hard work, it takes energy, and there is no set time frame to be done with grief. Find meaningful ways to remember your baby and have honest, open communication with your partner and those close to you.

It might not seem possible right now, but you’ll find your new normal. Many parents say that over time, a dull ache replaces the strong feelings of grief and loss.

How Grief Can Affect You

Grief may affect your body, how you think, your feelings, your relationships, and your spiritual beliefs. Grief is different for everyone. Some of the symptoms grief can cause are listed below:

Your Body

  • feeling tired
  • chest pain and tightness
  • breast tenderness
  • aching arms
  • changes in sleep and/or appetite
  • stomach aches, nausea, or muscle aches
  • more colds or infections

Your Thoughts

  • shock, denial, confusion
  • problems concentrating or memory loss
  • feeling tired and unmotivated
  • having little or no interest in things you normally enjoy
  • having trouble understanding and solving problems

Your Feelings

  • feeling very sad
  • feeling alone
  • feeling guilt or shame
  • being angry or resentful
  • fear, anxiety, and/or panic attacks
  • feeling helpless or overwhelmed
  • feeling unsure of yourself

Your Relationships

  • feeling isolated or alone
  • feeling out of touch with others
  • changes in relationships
  • unable to manage work or daily activities
  • losing touch with friends and family
  • feeling upset when around children or pregnant women

Your Sprituality

  • you may feel your life has changed
  • have questions about meaning and purpose
  • test beliefs or faith – “why me?” “where is my God?”
  • increase or decrease in time spent with your faith community
  • lose your sense of purpose
  • ask “why go on?”

Secondary Losses

There are many different reasons why you may be feeling grief for things in addition to the loss of your baby. Other reasons may include:

  • feeling sad because you won’t become a parent
  • missing the chance to be together as a new family
  • relationship losses if you don’t want to be around other parents or go to baby showers

Some women also grieve the changes in their relationship with their partner or lose a sense of who they are. Experiencing and dealing with your feelings can be hard and it takes energy, but it’s important not to rush the grieving so you can heal.

Different Perspectives

Men and women may go through pregnancy loss differently because they can form a different bond with the baby. In the early stages, fathers may experience the pregnancy through the mother’s eyes, while mothers physically connect with the baby. This may make it hard for fathers to have the same type of attachment to the baby as the mothers do. Because of this, fathers may not always understand the impact of the loss on their partners in the same way. The difference in attachment also affects how parents grieve.

It can be hard to understand or relate to your partner. This is normal. Everyone grieves differently, so try not to judge your partner’s reactions. There are two common ways of coping with grief that are listed below. Try to understand how you and your partner may be dealing with your grief.

  • Thinking and ​Doing: This is when people feel the need to act on their grief so they don’t focus on their feelings. For example, keeping busy with projects, volunteering, or keeping really busy with work.
  • Feeling: This is when people think about their feelings and reflect on what’s happened. Their energy is used to react to their feelings. For example, being very sad, crying, and wanting to talk about the baby.

Men may cope by thinking and doing. Activities like returning to work sooner, working long hours, or keeping busy with hobbies can offer a distraction for them. Doing something makes it feel like they can quickly carry on or fix the situation. But, delaying grief only causes it to come out in other ways later on. This also creates a situation where one partner is grieving alone, which makes both partners feel alone. If this happens to you, talk to your partner and find resources, which offer support.

Women often cope with grief by admitting to their feelings and verbalizing these feelings. If this is how you grieve, remember that your partner is grieving too. If you feel alone, by all means talk to your partner but consider also talking to others such as close friends, or seek professional support from a grief counsellor or support group.

Remember, your feelings and reactions may be different from your partner’s and you could work through grief differently. It helps to accept any feelings of sadness and disappointment and its okay to grieve and feel pain. Remember, you are not to blame for the miscarriage – nothing you did caused it.

A Father’s Grief

Pregnancy loss affects both parents, but a father’s grief is often missed. Friends and family expect fathers to be strong, so they may only ask how the mother is doing. This can make fathers feel like they should hide their grief or like they aren’t allowed to grieve. But, most fathers also feel excited about the pregnancy. A pregnancy loss can cause a loss of hope and the joy of being a new father. This can make men feel sad, angry, have a sense of failure, helpless, or even powerless. In some cases, feelings about a previous loss can surface. They may ask themselves “Why me?” or feel guilty for not being able to protect their baby and partner.

Fathers can experience and cope with grief differently than mothers because each has formed a unique attachment to the baby. It may be hard to understand your partner sometimes, but try not to judge each other’s reactions. Many factors can affect how people grieve. As a father, it’s okay to reach out to others about h​ow you feel, especially with your partner. Grief can be hard to talk about and often family and friends may not know what to say or what to do. You can help loved ones support you by telling them ways they can help (e.g., listening, helping with chores, making meals).


Current as of: August 18, 2017

Author: Women’s Health, Alberta Health Services