by Sheryl A. Isaacs, MS
Registered MFT Intern,IMF71453
Supervised by Julie Carboni, LMFT, MFC42890
at A Place of Refuge Counseling Center
Scotts Valley, CA
Child Therapist and Family Therapist
*Marriage / Couples Counseling
From the moment of conception we begin to plan for our child. We prepare for our child’s life. We begin to care for our child before birth by caring for ourselves, being sure to eat right and go to the doctor appointments. We ready the house, buying things that we need for this new edition to our family. We prepare siblings for the event of bringing home another family member to share in our life.
When we lose a child there are many feelings that are experienced by all family members. Each family member will experience the grief in a different way. Some family members will lose their son or daughter, others will lose a brother or sister, and others will lose a grandchild and have to watch this devastating event happen to their child. At times it may be difficult to understand why others are behaving as they are. Remember there is no “right way” to grieve. At times, we may be lost in our own grief and not be aware of how the loss is affecting those around us. Share your feelings with other family members. You may be suprised to find that others are experiencing the same emotion, just expressing it in a different manner.
Shock and disbelief occur first, along with many questions. How could this happen? Why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong? Why was I unable to stay pregnant? We can experience guit and shame due to these questions. We begin to feel that our bodies let the baby down or our genetics let the baby down. This guilt can turn into anger that we direct at ourselves. This anger that is directed inward is very difficult to overcome.
We may experience blaming our partner for the loss of our child. We begin to scrutinize everything that occurred during the pregnancy to look for the reason the loss occurred. We may think of instances that our spouse had us “do a little too much” and pinpoint that as to the “why” the loss occurred. It is so important to discuss these feelings and thoughts with our partner. When we lose communication in our relationship these thoughts and feelings fester and become a poison that can permeate the relationship.
We may find that we can not be around other babies or pregnant women. It is just too painful and reminds us of the loss that we experienced. We may experience jealousy in regard to other women that are pregnant and giving birth. This is a very common response that is experienced to keep the grief at bay.
We may find that the grief extends for a long time. It is important to remember that there is never a magical line that we cross where we “get over it.” We will deal with the loss of our child for the rest of our lives. However, as time passes we will be able to discuss the loss without breaking down. Healing begins slowly. We begin to feel more “normal” as time passes. We will experience times of deeper sadness around anniversary dates, the due date, or time of conception but our grieving period will pass. The grieving process becomes a problem when we do not find the grief lessening.
The loss of a child has been shown to be a risk factor in developing complicated grief. When our grief extends into complicated grief we need more support to pass through the grief. You will find an explanation of complicated grief in part two of The Loss of a Child.