The Importance of Mourning After a Miscarriage
Experiencing the loss of an unborn child is one of the most painful situations that a woman can go through. Allowing for a time of mourning after a miscarriage is fundamental in order to cope with what’s happened.
Furthermore, going through the grieving process is necessary in order to keep psychological consequences from becoming serious.
Miscarriage: The taboo
For some reason, even in modern society, women continue to go through gestational loss surrounded by a wall of silence. Miscarriage is, unfortunately, a common occurrence that affects one out of every four pregnancies. However, women who have experienced a miscarriage (and those around them) tend to keep the fact hidden.
This way, when women find themselves dealing with this unfortunate experience, they can’t always find close friends to turn to. They may begin to think they must have done something wrong and decide, like so many others, to remain silent – and thus, prolong the vicious cycle.
The situation is no better for women who have gone through an elective abortion. Rather, the guilt they may feel is only made worse by the criminalization that society subjects them to because of their decision.
The physical and psychological impact
Miscarriage means facing enormous changes in a very short period of time. What’s more, these are changes you haven’t prepared for.
First of all, women must face the physical impact that miscarriage has on their bodies. This includes major hormonal variations and the unpleasant symptoms that result.
On a psychological level, the fact that miscarriage is statistically frequent doesn’t make it any less devastating. When a child dies, there are dreams that die with him or her – all of the expectations invested in this new life.
A woman doesn’t only lose the being that was developing within her body, but also the role of being his or her mother. And furthermore, she loses the entire social construct she had built around the child.
Mourning after a miscarriage
Miscarriage constitutes a loss in every sense (emotional, physical, etc). Therefore, it’s important to allow for a time of mourning in order to work it into our life story in a healthy way.
As we mentioned above, society greatly underestimates the effects of gestational loss. But it’s vital that parents (especially mothers) be aware that they’re facing a difficult time and must take it on the most conscious way possible.
In the face of all this pain, many women opt for quick fixes, like getting pregnant right away or trying to deny the loss altogether. But these options do nothing to make the process easier. Rather, refusing to face the pain will only make it chronic, and the consequences will last for many years.
The emotions of mourning
Mourning comes with a wide variety of emotions, including the following:
- Guilt. Guilt is one of the most frequent emotions that comes with miscarriage. Mothers, in their attempt to understand what happened, often blame themselves for not having been careful enough.
- Feelings of inferiority or failure. Given the wall of silence, women often feel less capable and less valid than other women, because they were unable to carry their pregnancy to term.
- Sadness, loneliness and lack of understanding. It’s very likely that the people who are close to a mourning mother don’t know how to react. But in their attempts to cheer her up, they may try to make light of the situation, making her feel even more alone in her pain.
- Anguish and anxiety. In the midst of an experience of this caliber, the fear of suffering another miscarriage is common. Women may also fear not being able to get pregnant again.
How to go about mourning after a miscarriage?
- Allow yourself to take as long as you need to suffer. Even if those around you can’t understand it, you really need to allow yourself to experience all of the emotions that this process involves.
- Don’t try to cover up the pain. Don’t rush into another pregnancy or to compulsively keep your mind busy with other matters.
- Express yourself. Talk with your loved ones, your partner, or look for a support group where you can share what you’re feeling and thinking.
- Perform a goodbye ritual. Perhaps you can’t have a formal funeral, but it’s still important to say goodbye in some way, even if it’s symbolic. Furthermore, giving your unborn child a name can help you give him or her a special place in your life.
- Remember that each person mourns in her or his own time. Mourning isn’t a linear process, and having ups and downs is perfectly normal.
- If, after some time, you feel like you’re not advancing emotionally or that you can’t do this on your own, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a professional.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- López García de Madinabeitia, A. P. (2011, marzo). Duelo perinatal: un secreto dentro de un misterio. Recuperado de http://scielo.isciii.es/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext
- Fernández-Alcántara, M., Cruz-Quintana, F., Pérez-Márfil, N., & Robles-Ortega, H. (2012). Factores psicológicos implicados en el Duelo Perinatal. Recuperado de http://scielo.isciii.es/scielo.php?pid=S1132-12962012000100011