What to do with grief

For many mums, the road to motherhood isn’t a straightforward one. There are twists and turns along the way. For some (myself included)  the loss of a pregnancy and the grief that comes along are part of that journey.

October 15th is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I didn’t realize how hard and how deep the emotional pain would be. For days after the miscarriage, I cried myself to sleep, only to wake up and remember what had happened and start crying all over again. Everything came to an abrupt halt. Yet outside, the world spun madly on. 

I was struggling with grief. I didn’t know what to do with it, or with myself. They were hard days and weeks but eventually, with help, I was able to deal healthily with my grief. These are a few things I learnt in the process. 

 You have a right to grieve 

We tend to compare our losses and assign it some kind of value. E.g. Loss of child = huge impact, loss of pregnancy = small impact. We then assume that the pain experienced and the grief that comes with it is proportionate to that. But that’s not real life. We aren’t robots and loss affects each of us differently. We don’t see the hidden, sometimes more significant loss attached to the obvious external one. 

For example, when I had a miscarriage, it wasn’t just a physical tissue that I had lost, but a person I had come to love even in those short few weeks. I lost the dreams I had of our days together. I lost the hope of becoming a mother. I lost a bit of who I was. 

The better thing to do is to understand that grief doesn’t follow a set of mathematical rules. We hurt because something (along with the hidden hopes attached) that meant so much to us is now gone. So you have the right to grieve, even when people don’t understand why or how much your loss meant to you. 

Seek help

You don’t have to grieve alone. Pain can sometimes be very isolating. When we’re hurting we tend to withdraw. It can be tempting to do it alone. And while some alone time is helpful, for many the isolation can do more harm than good. If you find yourself avoiding everyone,  struggling to function, depressed or angry for prolonged periods, it may be a good idea to reach out for help. Speak to trusted friends and family, find a support group or book an appointment with a professional- you’ll find that you’re not alone and there are people who will support you as you grieve. 

Reframe your thoughts: Moving forward instead of moving on

It’s been 5 years since the miscarriage, but now, even as I write about, I can still feel the strong emotions envelop me. If someone were to ask me if I’d moved on, I don’t know if I can say I have. Moving on has a sense of ‘forgetting’ the event. I don’t think I could do that. But I have moved forward. Moving forward is possible. Moving forward is about accepting what has happened, the loss experienced and letting it shape us, become a part of us, for the better. We continue to live with both loss and hope.  

Develop self-compassion

Accept your grieving self. It is important to accept the reality of your loss, but it’s another thing to understand who you are as you process through all of it. It means accepting that you will be angry at times, triggered at others and also hopeful for the future. It means developing awareness and compassion for yourself. Make a point of asking how you would treat a friend if she was behaving/feeling the way you are whilst grieving. Give yourself that grace and space. 

Grief can challenge your worldview

When I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore, the pages of my journal blotched with ink and tears, I realised that what I wanted was an explanation. The answer to the why. Why had God allowed this loss that didn’t seem to make sense? It took time as I prayed and sought and surrendered. Is He still good? Is He still God?

It’s no surprise that I didn’t get a neat answer to my question. What I did get was reassurance that He is always good, whatever the circumstances. I got the comfort of His presence. He is true Peace, beyond all the pain. I learnt to trust that in a world of brokenness and loss, He is in the work of redeeming and restoring all things, all losses, for our good and His glory. 

When you’re ready, make room for hope

Give yourself space and time. For some people, the process is longer, for others shorter and that’s OK. It is your journey and you get to work through it in a way that best suits you. But as you do, remember that you are not alone. That God understands even when you don’t. Even when you don’t want to pray. Even when you’re angry at Him.  And when you’re ready, in your own time and way you will move forward with hope. 

Kristy Tan

 

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