At Tribeca Therapy, We Know The Pain Of A Miscarriage Is Real
In our therapy practice, we frequently see how miscarriages get minimized, but a miscarriage is a loss that needs to be grieved by you and your family. Miscarriages are often assumed to be over quickly or in medicine, miscarriages are routine. However, the emotional and physical pain of a miscarriage is not often quick to recoup. The grief from a miscarriage affects all other parts of your life–work, relationships with friends, partners and family, moving, transitioning careers, and school.
Hormones fluctuate in pregnancy, but the pain of the loss of a pregnancy within the first twenty weeks is still an emotional pain. The physical pain is there, of course, but it’s not just about the hormones, as some assume. The transition from being an expectant parent to someone who has lost something–parenthood–and someone–the baby. You expected your family to grow and then, that changed and was lost. It’s important to grieve this loss before moving on from the miscarriage and with your life.
Miscarriages Can Be Isolating
Miscarriages are not often dealt with or grieved in a community. They are frequently isolated to you (because life is already fully moving forward) and your family (because the day-to-day is occurring simultaneously). And you may find your feeling of loss may be different than your partner’s. Some of our patients may not have even told others they’re pregnant, but it was a part of you–your story.
Because of this frequent isolation, we, in our therapy practice, like to confirm that what you’re feeling after a miscarriage is real. It is a part of you just like all the other parts you may be seeking help around. Therefore, your own grieving or needs around it are real. Sometimes patients don’t know they were feeling so strongly about the pregnancy until they experienced the loss of a miscarriage. It’s important to acknowledge those feelings with others in a community (even for a moment) at work, home and school, with friends and family, or in therapy rather than dealing with the pain in isolation.
Pain of A Miscarriage Is Both Physical And Emotional
It is painful to miscarry whether you do so “naturally” at home or with a (or several) medical procedure(s). It can feel like your body is in crisis–it is shedding something or is in pain from the surgery. Your abdomen might hurt. The body might be slower or tenderer. You’re bleeding. You may also find it harder to stay still or be comfortable physically. As with any medical crisis, it takes time to recover from a miscarriage. However, many people still need to work, parent and live life while they are miscarrying and/or have recently miscarried, as well as grieve all at the same time.
In our therapy practice, we believe talking about the physical experience of a miscarriage is key. Since a miscarriage can be so isolating, it helps to voice the experience. What did the doctor do or not do? How were you treated or talked to? If you miscarried on your own or at home, what was that like? What was it like to go back to work? Go about your weekend? See your friend? Who did you call to let in? Did practitioners intervene? Especially, we see practitioners who allow women to miscarry naturally and it goes on too long, or think the problem is simpler than it really is. These experiences can be isolating and, at times, traumatic.
The Grief From A Miscarriage Isn’t One Size Fits All
As therapists who have worked with patients after miscarriages, we know the resulting emotional pain–the grief of this loss– isn’t one size fits all. You might feel sad, angry, dismayed, confused, guilty, or even, ashamed. Whether it is your first miscarriage or one of many, the grief is its own unique experience–each miscarriage is its own unique loss.
For example, if the pregnancy was a surprise, maybe you finally came around to the fact that yes, you would raise the baby and be a mother. But, then, the loss of the pregnancy throws you just as much as the surprise of the pregnancy did. Or maybe, you are pregnant with multiples and you lose one of the twins. You may feel relief that one baby made it, but grief that the other didn’t. Or maybe you feel relieved that the miscarriage happened, but are still grieving.
Grief can also be extra tough when patients have experienced multiple miscarriages. Say, you had medical help and even after going through infertility treatments, you have another miscarriage. There is anger, fear, sadness and pain you can’t even put into words. In particular, there’s often anger about how hard you’ve worked to become pregnant and miscarriages keep happening regardless. You’re grieving for this current loss, as well as your other losses. It’s more than a one-off experience and can make you wonder so many things from, “Will you ever have a baby” to “How come others have babies so easily?”
With Miscarriages, The Grief Can Be Family-Wide
Each pregnancy comes with a different dream, expectation, want or concern. For instance, you may already have a child and this is your second experience going into pregnancy. You’re proud to be your healthy kid’s parent, but you and your partner want to have a larger family. The loss of the pregnancy might be huge.
In therapy, we look at how this pregnancy, loss and process affect everyone including you, your partner, your kids and even, the potential–or current–grandparents. Not only do you have to tell your family, friends and other people in your life that you’re pregnant, but you also have to tell them about the loss you felt after the miscarriage. Therapy can help you process both your individual experience, as well as the experience of the family and the couple.
Bringing Your Partner Into Therapy After A Miscarriage
Depending on your situation, sometimes bringing your partner into therapy can help you get unstuck together. It can be beneficial to have someone there to help you voice what happened, as well as lend support that you are struggling with the miscarriage. They can also be there to say, “I’m struggling with the miscarriage too.”
However, it should be said that sometimes patients find more help in individual therapy. You may find the miscarriage is a bigger deal to you than your partner or you may need more help talking about it. You also may know that other things–depression, anxiety or trauma–are at work and have been triggered by the experience of the miscarriage.
Therapy For A Miscarriage: Creating A Grief Ritual
One way that therapy can help you grieve is to encourage you to create a grief ritual. A grief ritual might be a moment to be silent. It could also mean making time to share and talk with your partner intentionally about this loss and what the miscarriage meant to both of you. You could also create something to say goodbye or signify the loss like a painting or a song.
A grief ritual, such as these, means that you, you and your partner or your family can acknowledge the loss–that it is part of you and your family. Acknowledgment of this loss is an important first step in grief–it happened. This ritual can help put a bookend on the loss and allow you to go from merely surviving to existing with the loss.
A miscarriage is more than something that happened to you–your emotional relationship with the baby was lost. It is important to do more than just share your experience, but create something throughout and from it. That’s what the best therapy does–develop new ways to grow as we care for the pain.