Experiencing a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss brings on unimaginable grief. Parents not only find themselves mourning the loss of their child, but also that of their dreams, fantasies, hopes for their family, identity, and new social status. Parents often feel lonely and misunderstood in their mourning. Our society tends to have a short attention span when it comes to supporting bereaved individuals, and we are collectively uncomfortable with sadness that cannot be quickly lifted; we do not know what to do or say. After a few days of well-meaning casseroles from friends, parents are left alone with their pain. In the case of miscarriage or stillbirth, there may barely be an acknowledgement of the loss. Often, if the loss was in the first half of the pregnancy, parents choose not to share it with the world, sensing that they would be met with inadequate understanding, or believing that they should be able to quickly move on; all of this while desperately wanting to move on.
Grief is a manifestation of love. After experiencing loss, we do not move on or forget. We are never really “done” grieving. Instead, we eventually become able to carry the pain with us, and find meaning and connection in the world we are still a part of. We grow more resilient. To become more whole again, we need people around us who acknowledge the grief and the suffering, the enormity of it all. October is designated Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This is important – it is an opportunity to open our hearts to bereaved parents, and recognize their profound loss and all the emotions that accompany it, from anger to anxiety to guilt to hope. Just as grief is a manifestation of love, being willing to sit with another person in their experience of grief is also a manifestation of love.
Psychotherapy is one such space where mothers and fathers who have experienced perinatal loss can feel heard and seen, and find a way to cope and carry the pain at their own pace. At Wildflower, we are honored to be a part of this profound and difficult journey of healing.