The loss of a pregnancy and death of a child is something that no parent should ever have to experience. It does not matter if you are early on in pregnancy or lose the baby after they are born- the pain and grief are still traumatic. This post will talk about the A to Z emotions of pregnancy loss and provide some insight into what parents might expect when grieving this type of loss.
Remember that there is no one correct way to grieve. We all grieve differently and on our own timeline. You may feel all of the emotions listed below or may feel just a few of them. It is important to allow yourself to feel your feelings and work through them.
Though you may feel that you can never move on from a loss, I am here to tell you that it does get better over time. The loss is not something you will ever forget or completely get over. Learning how to recognize and understand the emotions you are feeling and going through is a step in the right direction in helping you heal.
We lost our daughter, Jasmine, in 2018 when she was stillborn at 32 weeks. The emotions below are based on some of the things I felt during and after our loss. Read My Loss Story: Jasmine Grace.
A to Z of Pregnancy Loss
One of the most common emotions that most people experience after the loss of a child is anger. You are angry that your child is no longer here. Sometimes angry because you believe your body failed you or that doctors failed you. Angry because you do not know the reason for your loss or angry that you do know the reason. There are many things to be angry at after such a hard loss. Anger can be healthy as it helps us express our feelings and deal with them in an assertive way.
You may feel like your heart was ripped out and you do not know how you can go on. You were left with an empty void that will never be completely healed again, no matter how hard you try. The idea of trying again feels so daunting. You just want to keep living in the brokenness and stay there for a while. I encourage you not to get stuck here. I promise that even when you think you cannot go on, you can. You are stronger than you think, not because you want to be, but because you have to be.
You may feel in your heart that you want to try again for another baby, but you are terrified of another loss. Losses can happen for so many different reasons and it is scary to not know if it will happen again. You have to carefully weigh the options and determine if you can go through another pregnancy both physically and emotionally. You may also be cautious about talking about your loss to others. Though most people are supportive after a loss, you might have those negative people in your life who judge you for talking about it. If you do not have supportive people in your life, I encourage you to seek out online loss groups. You will find yourself surrounded by people who have all experienced loss and extremely supportive.
When you first hear the words “I am sorry, there is no heartbeat” or “I am sorry, you have lost the pregnancy”, you may be in shock and have a hard time believing it is really true. Before we even heard those words, I knew in my heart that our daughter was already gone. When I was going through the delivery, I still prayed that it was a mistake and that she would be born breathing and alive. I knew what the outcome already was, yet still could not believe that it was happening to me.
Grief is a tiring emotion that can leave you both physically and emotionally exhausted. You may spend all day crying, which leaves you tired and needing sleep. You may not have the energy to do your normal daily activities. Give yourself some space and make sure you get enough rest. The grief will not be so overwhelming every day as time goes on and you will be able to return back to your new normal eventually.
After a pregnancy loss, it is normal for many people to want to try for another baby. If you have experienced a pregnancy loss before, the fear that this will happen again is very real. You may also be afraid that you will never become a parent. Having a loss opens your eyes to so many things you thought could never happen or would never happen to you. Now, you are, unfortunately, painfully aware of all the things that can go wrong. It is normal to be afraid when wanting to try again, but try not to let the fear completely overwhelm you.
It is normal to feel guilty after a loss. Guilt can come from feeling as though you should have seen this coming or that you should have been able to prevent the loss in some way. You may feel guilt because you think the loss is your fault due to something you ate or something you did. The loss is not your fault. In the end, it never feels like we do enough and many of us will continue to beat ourselves up over this. Be kind to yourself and try your best to practice good self-care.
Not all emotions surrounding pregnancy loss have to be all negative all the time. You may feel hopeful that you will be able to get pregnant and have another baby in the future. Hopeful that you will still have a family and have the baby you so deserve.
You may feel like you are the only person who has ever experienced this painful loss. You may not want to share your feelings with anyone because you think no one will understand what you are going through and it feels too hard to talk about. It is okay to avoid family gatherings or going out with friends if you need some space. I do encourage you not to push everyone away. Although there were many times I just wanted to be alone after our loss, there were also times that I really enjoyed the company and distraction of being around other people.
It is completely normal to feel jealousy after a pregnancy loss. You may feel jealous of others who who never experienced loss or of others that are currently pregnant. Please do not beat yourself up about feeling jealous. You are grieving the baby you lost and all the dreams you had for that baby. It is natural to be jealous of others who get the experience you so desperately wanted. If you have to say no to going to a baby shower or kid’s birthday party, you say no and do not feel bad about it.
You now have experience with something you likely thought would never happen to you. You are aware of things that can wrong and you can no longer return to the blissful ignorance you once had. You now fully understand the pain of others who have gone through loss. This is not the end. Even if you have had many losses, it does not mean that your future pregnancies cannot be successful and healthy.
Having a loss brings out a lot of people who are supportive and kind. It is often people you do not expect it to be. These are the people you should surround yourself with so that you can feel their love. The time period after a loss can be a lonely time if you let it be or it can be a time that you surround yourself with supportive and loving people that can help you get through it. If people offer to help by cleaning or cooking a meal, let them if you are comfortable with it.
Having mood swings is very common, especially if you are also dealing with the post partum hormones. You may go from feeling sad to angry to even having some happy moments. After our loss, one of the nurses told me that whatever I was feeling at that moment was the right way to be feeling. This has always stuck with me. So whether you want to laugh, cry, or scream, let yourself do it and feel it.
This is the stage where you feel nothing. It can be like a shell has formed around your heart, so it is hard to feel anything. This is the stage where you just want to get through each day, but not much else. It can be very hard to do anything that takes more than a few minutes of your time because it feels like too big an effort. Do not let this overtake you. It is okay to feel like this for a bit, but try not to let yourself get stuck here.
You can be open to the possibility of trying again in the future. Whether you lost your first baby or if you already have children, a loss does not always have to mean your family is completed. Being open can also mean being open to receiving support from others. This can be people who have gone through loss before or just close friends and family members. Maybe your loss made you really focus on the important things in life and you decide which things really matter. This could mean finding a new job, moving to a new city, or anything else that you feel is important.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to bring your baby back or to go back in time and prevent the loss. This can cause you to feel powerless over your situation because nothing you do will change what happened. Nothing you do can bring your baby back. All you can do now is move forward, even though that is one of the hardest things to do. Though you may be powerless over the loss that occurred, always remember that you are in control and that you have the power over your grief process. It may help you to feel like you at least have control over something in your life.
How could this have happened? Why did this happen to me? Will this happen again in the future? How can I prevent this? Is it too soon to be wanting another baby? Is it wrong to be wanting another baby? These are just some of the questions that can run through your mind after a pregnancy loss.
Some may have a hard time sitting still because it will cause them to have time to think about their loss. In order to avoid this, it is easier for some to throw themselves back into work or other things in order to stay busy and distracted. I was one of these people. I went back to work after just a week because I was feeling restless and could not sit at home being sad all day anymore. I would rather be distracted to help keep some of the sadness at bay, even just for a little while. If you want to go back to work right away and stay busy or stay at home by yourself, neither way is wrong. You have to do what is best for you and your grief.
You may feel really stressed out and overwhelmed by everything that is happening at once. You are trying to sort through your feelings of grief, while also trying to take care of yourself physically after your loss. Many still have to go to work and do other normal daily activities. It can be stressful visiting places that you went while you were pregnant. Give yourself grace and know that it is okay to not clean the house right away or to not visit certain places for a while. Healing takes time and you may be ready to do these things at another time.
You just went through a traumatic and heartbreaking loss. You may feel like you are on edge and cannot sit still or relax. You may find yourself being more touchy about certain things or arguing with your partner or family members more often. If you are able, find something that you enjoy doing and see if it can help you relax and, at least temporarily, take your mind off of things.
There will be both physical and emotional symptoms that may make you uncomfortable after a loss. If you are later in the pregnancy, you will have to deal with the normal post partum symptoms such as your milk coming in. If you had to deliver your baby, you will have to deal with the uncomfortableness that comes from that. Emotionally, you might be uncomfortable seeing other babies or being around other pregnant women.
Vexed means you are annoyed or frustrated with a person or situation. You can be frustrated with the situation, but take it out on the people closest to you. Maybe your frustration lies with the hospital or doctors that treated you or just the fact that you had a loss in general. Whatever the reason, it is okay to be annoyed and frustrated with people. I do think it is important to not let yourself become frustrated with those closest to you all the time because this can cause them to pull away.
Pregnancy loss can cause us to worry about a lot of things, even those that are not always directly related. There are the obvious things you may worry about such as being able to get pregnant again or having another loss. If you have other living children, you might become more worried about something happening to them. There is the worry that you may not be able to carry another baby, which can make it difficult to get pregnant again. There can also be worries about paying doctor or hospital bills related to the loss or about going through the grieving process itself.
After your loss, you may feel that you and your life are constantly being examined and inspected. The way you act, or do not act, the way you grieve, and even if you are public or private about your loss can all feel like choices that will be judged by others. When it comes to your loss, you grieve and act exactly how you need to in order to get through the grief process. As I mentioned before, there is no “right” way to grieve. Try not to let others determine how you “should” or “should not” be feeling or acting. This is about you and your grief, not about them.
You likely yearn for the time before your loss. The time when you were pregnant and excited about the new life that would soon come into your life. You wish you could go back to those days and still have your baby here. Even now, three years later, I have these feelings about wishing I could go back and have more time with Jasmine.
Losing a baby and then having to return to “normal” life is hard. Whether you take a few days to a few months, going back to the things you used to do before you lost the baby can be hard. Zoning out can happen where you are physically, but not mentally present. You may not feel like your heart is in it anymore, even with the things you used to love. Give yourself time to grieve and heal and try to do things that you love in order to bring back those moments of happiness.
Grief after experiencing pregnancy loss is a process that you will go through at your own pace and there are many emotions you will feel. You can never truly “get over” it, but the pain does change with time. Allowing yourself to work through all of your emotions will help you move forward. The grief will never go away, but it will change over time and you will learn to grow around it and with it.
If you ever feel like you need help and do not want to live anymore, please contact Suicide Prevention Hotline.
If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss and would like to tell your story, please check out Project Finding Your Rainbow.
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