A new pregnancy is an incredible emotional journey for any parent.
When parents lose a pregnancy or infant, they must navigate more uncertainties and discomfort than they ever thought possible. The loss of any child is heartbreaking and it's normal to feel every emotion under imaginable.
From anger and grief to a crippling sadness, parents are often unsure how to manage daily life after their loss and how to find the courage and support they need. Mourning isn't an easy journey, and everyone is different in the way they process the loss of a loved one.
It is the loss of a loved one, even if you have never met.
You are right to feel the way you do and you are worthy of mourning this in the way that helps you feel whole again. We are identifying the different ways parents can begin this process and reassure families experiencing pregnancy and infant loss that there is no wrong way to grieve.
It's not your fault.
Pregnancy complications and loss can happen to anyone, even the picture perfect pregnancies. It's important to realize that you have done all you can to keep you and your family safe and healthy and blaming yourself will be a challenging road block in allowing yourself to feel the range of emotions in mourning infant loss with your family. Grief is normal and though you wonder if you could have done more, you did everything the best you could and letting that comfort you is a good place to start. Be patient and compassionate with yourself.
Give yourself time.
Time really does heal. Give yourself the time you need to recover from the shock of loss and be sympathetic with your body as it heals. Mourning takes time and if you need to take time off work, time away from the house, away from friends or even need time to be alone, give yourself this opportunity. You and your partner will require space in different ways and they may need more or less time than you to manage the flow of emotions to come. It won't get any easier but you will become more sure of your self worth.
Don't isolate yourself from people who care about you.
You'll need time alone and you deserve that, but you can't do this alone. It will be difficult, but embrace the compassion of others. You aren't hurting for you, but they're hurting for you, your baby and your family. Friends, family and even coworkers want to offer support and even if they don't always say the right thing, it's important to know they're trying. Sometimes they don't know what to say, think they know what to say and it just comes out wrong.
Even if it's hard to do, embrace the support around you in the different ways it manifests. Should you need to talk, having the support by your side will truly make a difference in your journey ahead. You know what's best for you.
Help Encourage the Emotions
- Your baby has a name. Encourage people to use their name as it helps bring you closer to closure.
- You have needs too. Sometimes you need to just feel happy again, don't feel guilty if you want to go to a movie or just try to encourage yourself to laugh again. You're not a bad parent if you're seeking happiness, you need that.
- Be a team. Your partner needs you too, but don't assume they will handle things the same way. Don't interpret this as coldness or inconsideration, they may be internalizing their hurt.
- Being around your baby's things is allowed to be a part of your healing process. If you need to spend a few nights in the nursery, you should.
Finding Community Support
For some parents, the best way to begin the process is to find families in your community that have experienced the same thing. At Freedman Lake Park, the Walk to Remember offers families an opportunity to heal, grieve, and stand with your community to raise awareness to grief counselling and support for Kentucky families experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss.
This year's walk will take place on October 15th at 6:15 in the evening. Families are encouraged to bring balloons to release and wear customized t-shirts with designs that represent their journey. The walk intersects with the nation's moment of silence for the children we have lost but not forgotten. If you are a Kentucky family experiencing a past or recent loss, join our community for this evening of solidarity, healing and awareness.