Mourning a Miscarriage
“My miscarriage was one of the loneliest experiences of my life. I hadn’t told anyone I was pregnant yet, so no one knew I miscarried and no one was calling to help me feel better.” A.K.
Knowing we are not alone when we are grieving a miscarriage can be reassuring. So many of my patients have told me that they were comforted by reading about others with similar losses that I did an internet search and found over 50 public personalities who have shared their miscarriage losses openly, including Beyoncé, Nicole Kidman, Michelle Obama, Lisa Ling, Pink, Gabrielle Union, Chrissy Teigen, and Carrie Underwood to name a few. Celebrities may not be friends or family, but they are so familiar to us, that we can identify with their experiences. When their feeling echo ours, it can help us deal and heal.
When we listen to others, we also see that each of us work through our feelings at different rates. No scientific study has ever demonstrated that there’s a neat sequence of stages of recovery from grief. In fact, we usually feel more than one feeling at the same time, both sadness and hope, for example. Since there is no right or wrong way to mourn a miscarriage, you don’t have to resolve all issues to move forward. Life doesn’t work that way - neither does fertility treatment.
If you are blaming yourself for a miscarriage, the blame is inaccurate and is adding insult to injury. Daily stress alone is not enough to cause miscarriage. Your physician can reassure you. So be kind to yourself and when you talk to yourself, substitute a neutral, non-judgmental mantra, such as: “It was so unexpected” rather than “It was my fault”.
It’s understandable that you may want your miscarriage to be private because you don’t want unsolicited advice, you don’t want to hear everyone else’s miscarriage stories, or because you feel there is a stigma attached to miscarriage, but, unfortunately, you may feel isolated just when you need to share. Find the support you need so you will know that you are not alone in this journey. Reach out to those who have shared their loss or to a mental health specialist trained in fertility issues so when they say “I understand”, you know they really do. To find listeners, use national fertility organizations like RESOLVEE, or RMA of New York’s resources for finding others to talk to in confidence
Since time is usually an important factor in fertility treatment, try to keep moving forward after a miscarriage even though you may be afraid that you could have another loss. Clarify ALL the options available to you and all the information the miscarriage gave your physician. Take one day at a time. Remind yourself that no one is immune from miscarriage, not even the famous. Remind yourself that you are not alone, you have your own timeline for recovery, it’s not your fault, it helps to share, and if you want to build a family, there’s more than one way.
Prager, S., Dalton, V.K., Rebecca, H.A. Early Pregnancy Loss. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist's Committee on Practice Bulletins. 132(5) 2018.
Brier, N. Grief following a miscarriage: a comprehensive review of the literature. Journal of Womens Health. 17(3) 2008.