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"Grief is not a disorder, a disease or sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve". - Earl A Grollman
Can you believe it is mid-summer already? While summertime is hailed as a happy time making memories with family by most, it is often a trigger for families who have lost a pregnancy or baby because of all the memories and rites of childhood that are NOT being made.
Each grief journey is as unique as the individual who walks its path. That being recognized, an aspect of grief that is common to all who grieve is the need for self-care. We know it may be hard to self prioritize your needs, we encourage you to take some time to yourself to focus on self care and relax.
Grief may be experienced in a variety of ways—emotionally, physically, cognitively, psychologically and even spiritually. The reactions of our minds and bodies to grief can include symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, appetite changes, mood fluctuations, forgetfulness, loss of concentration and even despair. Coping with all of these potential responses may be overwhelming, but there are some things you can do to manage your grief while continuing to function day-to-day.
Accept your feelings.
Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are. Sadness, loneliness, fear, confusion, anger—these are among the many feelings you may experience, and are completely normal. Emotions are often raw early in the grief process, but it is important to express them. Attempting to stifle feelings usually leads to an emotional outburst at an inconvenient time.
Be patient with yourself.
Grief is an intensely personal process. Accept that it follows no magic formula or time frame. It will take as long as it takes. Think of the care you would extend to a friend in the same situation of loss, and allow yourself that same grace. Be careful not to take on responsibilities beyond what is realistic. It is better to allow for some flexibility in your obligations during this time.
Pay attention to physical needs.
It can be very easy to neglect your physical needs while grieving. However, this is a time when taking good care of yourself is crucial. As difficult as it may seem, making every effort to get adequate sleep, eat nutritionally balanced meals and fit in regular exercise and intentional relaxation can do wonders.
By pursuing a healthy routine, you are preparing yourself to take on the new challenges facing you during this difficult time. In addition to these efforts, a check-up with your physician is also recommended. Be certain to make your physician aware that you have experienced a loss.
Accept the help of others.
Understand that grief is hard work. It requires a great deal of energy and can be exhausting. Even though we place a high value on self-sufficiency, it is important to ask for, and accept, help from those close to you.
WAYS TO FILL YOUR CUP
The following suggestions were written to help you take care of yourself following the loss of a pregnancy or baby, but apply to any kind of loss you might be experiencing.
Three Little Birds wishes you all a happy, healthy and healing summer. We are here to support you immediately and long-term through the tremendous loss of a pregnancy or child. Please do not hesitate to reach us via text, email, telephone or social media for free support!
Written by: Christiane Manzella, PhD, Seleni Institute
For women who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death, Mother's Day can be hard. You might feel emptiness beside you where you feel your child should be and emptiness inside you. Your arms are empty, while the arms of the mothers you see around you – at brunch, in the park, on the street – are filled. Mother's Day can be equally hard for your partner because he is also grieving and may not know how to act or how to support you on that day.
If Mother's Day is difficult, here are ways to get support and take care of yourself:
Plan to get together with family members on another day, rather than trying to participate in a Mother's Day celebration that feels too difficult. Instead, consider making plans with someone who understands your situation and find an activity that takes you away from Mother's Day celebrations, like going to the movies.
Practice what you will say when people ask you about your baby. Whatever feels comfortable to you is ok.
Ignore comments from anyone who suggests that you are not a mother. Even though you lost your child during pregnancy or soon after, you are still a parent.
Take care of yourself. Eat well, get good sleep, and pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. Choose healthy distractions, such as talking with a friend, going for a walk, or reading your favorite book. Let your friends and loved ones support you through this time.
Share your feelings about Mother's Day with the father of your child, trusted friends, or other women who have experienced a similar loss. It's important to talk with people who understand that you are grieving.
You are a mother. You carried your baby. You parented that child. Yes, the time you were pregnant or the time that you had with your child was way too short. The length of time your baby was alive is not connected to how much you love your baby. You conceived, carried, and parented this child for the baby's whole life.
Asking why and feeling guilty are normal. More than 50 percent of miscarriages and stillbirths are unexplained, so sometimes these questions really have no answers. Just be with your thoughts while also recognizing that these thoughts most likely come from a natural instinct to find out why something went wrong in order to prevent it from happening again.
You might get stuck thinking the same thoughts over and over again (rumination). If you do, share these thoughts and concerns with someone you trust. And distract yourself by doing something that feels physically pleasurable – try brushing your hair, putting on some hand or body lotion, taking a bath, or cuddling with your partner.
Your feelings are ok. It's normal to feel anger and jealousy when you see other moms with their babies. Tears are ok. Anger is ok. These raw (and socially unacceptable) emotions will shift and become less intense, less painful, and less unpleasant as you move through your grief and see what next steps are right for you.
It is good to share feelings and thoughts. Again, it can help to talk with someone you trust – perhaps your partner or another woman who has experienced pregnancy or child loss. If you find that you are having difficulty, you might find it helpful to participate in a support group or speak to a professional who understands the grief associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss.
You are changed forever. Grief eventually becomes less raw and sad, but you will be changed. This change also involves creating new hopes and dreams for a satisfying life. Think of it as a new normal.
Here are additional resources for support on Mother's Day and any day:
11 Things You Should Know About Grief
Should I "Move On" From My Miscarriage?
The Seleni Institute
Subsequent Pregnancy After Loss Support
Three Little Birds is coordinating our first bereaved mommies card exchange for this coming Mothers Day, next Sunday, May 13. If you are a mommy who would like to participate, it's very easy!
Just say so on this post, and message us your name and address by TUESDAY night. On Weds morning, you will be matched with another momma and you will each exchange Mother's Day cards with each other. If you mail them by Thursday, they should reach their destination in time to be opened on Sunday.
Let's take the time to support ALL mommies this mothers day!
If you know a friend who would like to join, please send them to our page. We want all loss moms to join, from pregnancy loss to infant loss. You are a mom!! You deserve to be recognized!
If you would like to participate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be included!
Kristen Samuelson, SBD, Founder & Director