You may react with numbness and disbelief, particularly in the beginning. This can occur on many levels. It may include denial of certain feelings associated with the loss well into the future. These feelings can be intense, subtle and complicated and may take years to completely process. Denial protects you from experiencing the intensity of your feelings too quickly. It is a protective process that allows you to acknowledge any feelings you have associated with the loss of your baby in your own perfect timing.
As the initial shock wears off, feelings of pain will surface that can be excruciating and unbearable at times. It is important to acknowledge and experience the pain fully as opposed to attempting to escape from it. This phase often unfolds at a pace that is personal to you after you are prepared to let go of the protection of denial. It can be confusing because the painful feelings are usually more intense than they were initially. You may have feelings of guilt or remorse over things you did or did not do or how you may think you have contributed to the loss. Life may feel very chaotic. People experiencing joy,
particularly associated with pregnancy and childbirth can exacerbate your feelings of pain. Because the phases of grief can loop back around unexpectedly, it is not unusual to experience painful feelings associated with the loss well into the future. Anniversary dates often trigger memories and feelings.
Anger is normal and a result of the overwhelming loss of control and intense feelings of grief. The question: “why me?” often surfaces. Despair may lead to a desire to bargain or exchange something you have done or thought for this to all go away. Being angry at others who are experiencing joy or pregnancy is normal. Anger at others for insensitivity and expecting you to be over your loss sooner then you are ready is also normal during this time. Anger may also be experienced when others are no longer acknowledging your baby, as if your baby’s life was unimportant. Sharing your anger with others who have experienced a similar loss is very helpful and affirming.
A need to withdraw, deep sadness, periods of crying and taking solace in being alone is normal and a positive thing at any period after the loss of your baby. Be easy and gentle on yourself. Accept this as part of the process. It is important to focus on acknowledging and accepting how you feel and taking care of your own needs regardless of what others think or say.
As you adjust to life without your baby, things begin to get easier and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Depression lifts as normalcy and moments of happiness begin again. Life becomes calmer and more organized. This does not mean you forget your baby. This is a good time to examine ways to honor, memorialize, celebrate or capture your baby’s memory.
As you become functional again, a more focused and rational approach can be created by seeking realistic solutions to the chaos the loss of your baby has created in your life. The world may look different now but you will begin to see that you can have periods of happiness again.
Services and resources are given at NO COST to bereaved parents. RGA provides encouragement, material resources, weekly peer support meetings, remembrance events and other relative activities to assist in the grieving process.