October is National Early Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
A blog post I wrote about two years ago, and it still hits home for me every year.
Is there a right or wrong in grieving for an unborn child? When are we allowed to grieve?
If you look up the word grief in the dictionary, it says: ‘intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.’
Grief is all about a love we have but feel we can’t express anymore.
I remember a time where I was lying in a cold room. I remember putting my head under the thin blanket, trying to hide my tears. I didn’t know if I was allowed to cry or even allowed to be sad. I felt in-between spaces, confused and lost.
Yesterday I was a mum, and today I wasn’t. I lost my unborn baby. It was an incredibly sad and confusing time. Back then, I didn’t know that there would be such things as miscarriages.
I was overwhelmed by the love I already had for my unborn child and the sadness of never to get to hold my baby.
When are we allowed to grieve?
I never spoke about it again. I cried in silence, not knowing if I was allowed to share my pain. My grief and the love for my unborn child was in silence, for many years! It was one of those things ‘you just don’t talk about’. I was not aware that one in four women experiences a miscarriage.
It is still a conversation that not many people have.
I have spoken to several parents over the last few years and I hear a lot of ‘I shouldn’t be sad’, ‘I know I shouldn’t grief’. And every time I hear this, my soul hurts with you.
Some time ago, I had a young woman working with me. She burst into tears one morning saying; ‘I lost my baby. I know I shouldn’t be sad because she wasn’t even born’.
This hit home for me on so many levels. I couldn’t bear the thought that she was blaming herself for feeling grief for her baby. I opened up, and I shared my story with her. We cried together.
From that day on, I spoke openly about my loss as I want bereaved parents to feel that they can safely acknowledge their feelings and their loss. It is nothing someone has to hide or has to ‘move on’ from.
The grief I learned comes for each person differently.
I’ve learned that talking about it and acknowledging can help.
I have worked with many women in the last few months who have shared their sadness and pain with me in losing a child. While I cannot take the pain away, though I’d love to, I can listen and create a keepsake that might ease some pain. You don’t have to hide the pain you are feeling. You are allowed to grieve, to cry and to mourn any loss at all.
Keepsakes can be a beautiful sentimental piece to either wear, display in your home or place in a keepsake box for special days. It is not always ashes or a lock of hair I fuse into your memento, often bereaved parents send me dried flowers or leaves from a tree they had planted to honour the child they have lost. Other keepsakes are often a piece of fabric, handprint or some sand from the burial site. Some women chose to send us a small amount of breastmilk and have it preserved into a piece of jewellery.
There is no right or wrong in grieving. Give yourself permission to grieve. Allow yourself to feel all the emotions. Surround yourself with the people that love you and support you.
Additionally, you can seek support from your GP, midwife or a grief counsellor.
Immeryours would like to acknowledge the Early Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month.