How Do You Manage the Grief of a Miscarriage?

A miscarriage can be heartbreaking, even devastating. But it’s a loss that isn’t immediately visible to those around you. Here’s how to cope.

I heard someone say once that a miscarriage is an “invisible loss.” Others may not be able to see the physical or emotional toll it takes on you, but it’s very much real.

Women typically resume their normal daily activities, but they are often hiding their sadness and grief. Family and friends may not know what to say and, making things more complicated, even your own partner may not know how to respond. Some men may feel they must be strong for their partner and won’t always allow their feelings to show. As a result, the woman may take this to mean that her partner didn’t care about the pregnancy as much as she did. Communication as to what the other one feels, and listening to what the other one needs, can be vital in ensuring you’re both able to be there for one another.

Although miscarriage is common (approximately 1 in 6 pregnancies end before 12 weeks), it does not take away the fact that it is a traumatic experience. Any miscarriage is a shock, no matter how early in the pregnancy it happens. Sometimes, you may have spotting, cramping, or heavy bleeding that indicates a miscarriage. Other times, you may not immediately experience those symptoms, but will only learn of a pregnancy loss at what should have been a routine ultrasound where there is no longer a heartbeat.

Anniversary dates of the conception, when you learned you were pregnant, your child’s projected due date, and the birth of other babies on that due date can also be difficult.

It is common to experience a mix of emotions ranging from disbelief, anger, sadness, and naturally, grief. In addition to the emotional aspects, for women, pregnancy is a very physical experience. This means that after a loss, your body can feel different as it goes back to a “non-pregnant” state. You may have bleeding, your breasts will return to “normal” again, and you may require time to heal from a D & C (if it’s needed). Depending on your doctor’s orders, you may also have to wait several cycles before trying to conceive again. It may even feel like you’re back to square one . . . but a new square one. One where you now fear another miscarriage.

With a subsequent pregnancy, you will analyze every symptom, check for spotting on visits to the bathroom, and never feel quite safe until a healthy baby is in your arms.

It’s important that you speak with your doctor and ask if they have any insight as to why you experienced this loss. If you have had several miscarriages, you may also want to ask about autoimmune testing, PGD, or PGS to see if any of these are something your doctor recommends exploring. Sometimes, tests like these can provide insight and potentially help avoid any addition miscarriages.

You should also seek out others who have experienced a miscarriage as well. There is a level of understanding that is unparalleled, and the support from your peers can be immensely helpful. There is Resolve, the National Infertility Association, many online support groups, and perhaps friends or family who have gone through it themselves. You can also seek out the help of a therapist, counselor, psychologist, or if you’re religious, your rabbi, pastor, or priest.

Memorial rituals or services are often healing, as are having a memento to commemorate the pregnancy (a charm, necklace, etc.), but only if you feel you would find that helpful.

More than anything, being okay with how you’re feeling, being comfortable with not being okay, or needing some extra love and support can make all the difference. You don’t always have to be strong or brave. It’s okay to take the time you need to work through the emotions of what you’ve just experienced and ask for what you need unapologetically.

Overall, you and your partner need to work out how to be there for one another and speak to your doctor about next steps.