Below is a short video, which explains about the emotions and grief that are common when you lose a baby, and helps to show that it is normal to have these feelings. Further information and advice is available on supplementary pages.
Video from Jo Hemmings
Please note: There is also a page with information and a video especially for children.
The days, weeks and months following a loss can be incredibly difficult and painful. It’s normal to feel utter sadness, shock, grief, depression, guilt, anger, resentment, vulnerability and many other emotions when you lose a baby.
You may be withdrawn and irritable, unable to concentrate, eat normally or sleep. You may feel physically exhausted and find it an effort to move or do anything.
As time passes you may have hours or days when you can begin to get on with normal life, and other times when you are overwhelmed by sadness. Everyone reacts differently, and there is no right or wrong way to feel after such a loss.
There are a few things you may want to keep in mind, for example:
Accepting your feelings, whatever they are
For example, you may be shocked to find that you feel anger or resentment towards friends or relatives who are sailing through “successful” pregnancies, or have new babies. Or you may feel that you have failed, that your body has betrayed you, or that you’ve let your baby or other people down.
You might also feel that the loss was somehow your fault, the result of something that you did or didn’t do. These kinds of feelings are very common. Instead of judging or blaming yourself, try to talk openly and honestly with your partner and other people about what’s happened and how it’s affecting you.
The Saying Goodbye team have all walked a similar path, and are happy to listen to you and reassure you that your feelings are normal and natural.
Giving yourself time
Don’t push yourself to stop feeling sad. Other people often try to help by saying things like, “Never mind, you can try for another baby” or “Put the experience behind you, get on with your life”, but you need to deal with your grief as it comes.
It can take a long time before you feel you can pick up the pieces of your life again, and even then it’s likely there will still be times when you feel sad. For example, some parents find that the grief comes back especially around their baby’s due date, anniversaries or traditional family celebrations.
Taking time off work
Even if you feel physically OK, taking some time away from your job may be helpful. You need a chance to come to terms with what’s happened, and taking a break from your regular routine can help. Women who are not entitled to maternity leave because the pregnancy ended before the 24th week may want to ask their doctor about sick leave. Grieving dads may also want to consider taking some time off work.
Understanding that your partner may not grieve in the same way
If your partner doesn’t seem to be affected by the loss as deeply as you are, it may help to know that men and women often grieve and show their grief differently. While women tend to express their feelings and look for support from others, men may be more likely to keep their feelings in and deal with sadness on their own.
Many men feel that they need to take care of their partners by remaining strong. If your partner doesn’t seem to be as sad as you are, try not to assume that they don’t care about you or the baby. Try to make a time when you can listen to each other and understand what each of you is going through. You may find it helpful to discuss ways to share your feelings and support each other.
Talking to other people
Grief is often private and can be very lonely. Although it may be painful, sharing your story can help you to feel less alone. You may be surprised by how many of your friends, relatives, work colleagues and neighbours have their own stories of loss. And you may find understanding and support from unexpected sources – which can help make up for the fact that some of the people that you expected to be understanding and supportive are not. Remember Saying Goodbye are always there to listen and support.
Understanding why some friends and colleagues may stay away
Many people are frightened by intense emotions and sadness and simply do not know what to say or do when someone loses a baby. They may find it easier to avoid you or to try to ignore or downplay what you’re going through. This can be extremely hurtful. Try to remember that it’s because they can’t cope and not because of anything you’ve done or because they don’t care.
Don’t think you have to “carry on as normal” when you don’t feel up to it. Accept offers of emotional or practical support from friends and family, if what they’re offering is really helpful. For a full range of support options connect with Saying Goodbye on Twitter at @SayinggoodbyeUK, on facebook.com/SayinggoodbyeUK, or simply email [email protected].
If at any time you’re worried that you don’t seem to be coping with daily life, or that things are getting worse, it’s important to discuss this with your doctor or midwife. They may suggest that you get specialist help, or refer you for counselling to help you grapple with the difficult emotions you’re experiencing. Saying Goodbye can also refer you to local befrienders, support groups or to a range of counsellors and therapists.Download the Saying Goodbye Support Leaflet (PDF)