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Understanding “Miscarriages” & How to Recover: Part Two

Understanding “Miscarriages” & How to Recover: Part Two

By Denise Padilla de Font

In part one of this blog post, I discussed the complexities of processing and recovering from a miscarriage. Here, I’ll share more on the emotional process that comes after miscarriage, as well as some less common ways to cope. In part one, I also discussed how the word “miscarriage” is a misnomer, which is why it is in quotations in the title. For more on that, please see part one

The Feelings
Naming and validating the feelings that show up during and after miscarriage gives us the self-awareness that we need to heal. Here’s a list of feelings that have been true for me and for the women who’ve shared their stories with me.

  Vulnerable    
Shocked
  Ashamed    
Empty
Blamed
Guilty
Lost
Isolated
Anxious
        Stigmatized        
Lonely
Angry
Sad
Ostracized
       Failure       
Devastated
       Depressed        
Obsessed  
          Forgotten        
Irrational
Gutted
Incapable
Jealous
        Traumatized         
Relief
Gratitude
Relief
Judged
Feelings Chart for Miscarriage © Denise Padilla 2019


Grief Gets Its Own Category
If there was one big umbrella feeling that towered over all the rest, it’s grief. Grieving a loss is hard, and it requires patience and time. (Yeah, easier said than done!) Grieving a pregnancy loss is more complicated. That’s why it falls into the category of “disenfranchised grief.” Disenfranchised grief is when somebody’s loss goes unrecognized by society. 

Honestly, this could be the topic of an entire blog in itself. In the meantime, learn more about disenfranchised grief here: https://whatsyourgrief.com/disenfranchised-grief/.

A Multilayered Process
The mental process of healing from miscarriage doesn’t follow a straight, predictable path or pattern. It’s layered. Each layer is focused on something important that makes up the whole of our feelings after miscarriage. 

The Body: This is where we feel the physical symptoms of miscarriage (pain, hormonal changes, bleeding, etc.) The physicality of this is easier—not easy—to understand and explain to ourselves and others. It’s the layers beyond this that are harder to describe. 

The Self: These are the thoughts and feelings about what we think and feel about ourselves because our pregnancy ended in loss. Its where the “what if”s and self-judgment reside. (For example, “what if I hadn’t done X, Y, and Z?”, or “what if I miscarry again?”)

The Baby: The third layer is where we grieve the budding relationship with our baby. It’s where we imagined a birth and a future with our child who no longer exists.

Relationships: How we feel around others after miscarriage. For some, this layer is where they felt ostracized, rushed by loved ones to “feel better,” or jealous around pregnant women. I could write an entire blog about the ways social media contributes to getting stuck in this layer. (Side eye to “gender reveal” photos.)

Spiritual Crisis: Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, miscarriage will challenge your faith. This is part of the natural process of grief. 

Now, just imagine that you are a tennis ball being hurled between all these layers on any given moment, with no consistency, rhythm, or end in sight. Some women have shared that this shifting between layers has made them feel like they’ve lost control, not just over their bodies, but also with their minds. I agree. That was my experience, too. 

We can get some much needed comfort from being aware that these layers exist as a natural part of the healing process. Even though the process is complex, here—at least—is a road map to help explain how we feel. 

Coping
There are ways to help heal the emotional pains of miscarriage. 

We need non-judgmental support and validation. We also need access to trained professionals who are knowledgeable about maternal mental health: therapists, grief counselors, support groups, and spiritual counselors. Here are some examples of less well-known coping techniques that can work wonders, too.

Art Therapy: It’s hard to put into words what we feel about miscarriage. Making art with the guidance of a trained professional Art Therapist is a powerful and effective tool to help us voice those feelings.

Art: Creating with our hands is a therapeutic metaphor for what we created in our bodies and the dreams we created in our minds during pregnancy. Use any material any way you want! For me, it came in the form of painting one stone for every baby I lost. Doing this was beautiful, moving, and grounding.

Ritual: It’s normal to ritualize death, but not for pregnancy loss. Through simple rituals that we create and control, we can memorialize the hopes, dreams, and baby that we lost. There are no rules about what this needs to look like. What matters is that it holds meaning for you. 

woman writing in a journal outsideTracking Thoughts: Start a journal and write your experience down. Don’t like to journal? No problem! Make a voice memo instead. Tracking our thoughts and feelings—just like tracking steps—can bring us a sense of relief, a greater self-awareness, and self-validation.

Share your story: When I listen to a miscarriage story, I’m amazed by the sense of relief that the storyteller feels by being heard without judgment or interruption. Sharing our miscarriage story with an active and supportive listener can help us heal. 

If you’ve had a miscarriage and are feeling all the feels and thinking all the thoughts: I see you, sister. My hope is that with some guidance through the process—knowing you are TOTALLY within your right to grieve as long as it takes—you don’t have to suffer through this transformative experience alone.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE NEEDS HELP DEALING WITH FEELINGS ASSOCIATED WITH PREGNANCY LOSS, OUR PROVIDERS ARE HERE TO HELP: https://www.mindpathcare.com/search-staff/.

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Bio: Denise Padilla de Font is a professional Art Therapist who specializes in women’s issues and support for healing arts practitioners. With over a decade of service to her community, she founded her private practice, River Water Healing, in 2013. http://riverwaterhealing.com/bio-1/

Sources:
https://www.verywellfamily.com/making-sense-of-miscarriage-statistics-2371721
https://www.sciencealert.com/meta-analysis-finds-majority-of-human-pregnancies-end-in-miscarriage-biorxiv
https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/miscarriage.aspx
https://the1a.org/shows/2019-06-05/what-does-it-mean-to-lose-a-pregnancy
https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/your-feelings/supporting-someone-through-pregnancy-loss/
https://whatsyourgrief.com/disenfranchised-grief/
https://www.postpartum.net/professionals/overview/

 

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