If your baby has just died and you have not yet delivered, visit Help Now. There you will find presentation of the immediate needs, some of the whys (why to spend as much time with your baby, why take pictures, why involve your family fully if possible, and so much more). In this section we will focus on the early days after going home from the hospital.
There are a number of books and resources where you can learn the ins and outs of living after the tragedy. We are unable to capture or the information you need to navigate this time. Some books to read for this are:
See the Resource Section for many, many more options.We continually update and rotate resources, so keep checking back.
Understanding what grief really is and why it is a necessary part of healing can help you. It may be that you feel crazy, alone, and depressed, but once you understand that these are normal reactions after the death of a loved one, you may be able to work toward accepting them.
Mourning is the expression of your feelings and needs; it is the work of grief. Believe it or not, this 'grief work' can be the salve you put on your wounds. Keep in mind, that when you love someone, you may find, like most people (though not all) that you will feel better in time, but that you never ‘get over it’ or ‘heal completely’ or ‘recover’. Rather, you may go on to find happiness again while noticing the hole in your heart and the ache you feel, as well as the depth of love when you think of him or her.
Here are some descriptions of grief we have heard over the years. Maybe this will give you permission and understanding:
Mourning your baby is a sign of love and is necessary in order for most people to heal. The key is to find the ways that work for you. Here are some from other bereaved parents:
Our eZine #10 Healing Arts is full of creative guidance from experts and other parents and professionals. It delves deeply into various ideas and articles on how to utilize the arts to help in healing.
Whatever you do, we don’t recommend you hold everything in. The stress is already intense and can cause serious illness and longer-term depression; finding healthy ways to get it out will help you now and in the long run.
Grief actually looks like and feels like depression for many grieving people and to those who see the behaviors which are understandably concerning. Medication may or may not actually help with depression in certain people, but many of us who work in the bereavement field have rarely, if ever, seen it cure the behaviors and feelings of grief. There is a need for people to actively grieve for someone they love who has died.
Be thoughtful about accepting any medication without extensive conversations with providers and plenty of reading to understand why grieving is necessary and how to do it well. If you are offered medication, you could ask for some research proof that it does more than delay the very natural feelings that need to come out after a significant death. Become aware of some of the many natural methods (supplements, oils, meditation, music and other calming strategies) that can help with rest, sleep and calm.) Do consult your medical practioner before making any medical decisions.
Check out our eZine #5 Healthy Grieving and #9 Grieving with Intention.
There are so many good groups and websites that offer support. And there are some that may not be as helpful. If you are newly bereaved , you are more vulnerable, so protect yourself. If a therapist or group or Facebook group is not helping you right now, take a break or stop completely. There are lots of choices for help; find something else.
Some of the often recommended groups that might be of help are: Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope, SHARE, MISS Foundation, Hand, Compassionate Friends, Empty Arms, AMEND, MEND, UNITE, Missing GRACE, and many hospital groups run by staff or community professionals. No one can make a promise, though that you will get what YOU need. Give it a few times before you stop, however, it may be that the next time you attend you'll feel different. Use your instinct and judgement.
You will find lists and lists in our Resource Section, including many Facebook groups. We have an eZine on Support Groups (#2) which can be ordered from the eShop.
After Some Time Has Gone By
Chinese Proverb: You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying overhead,
but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.
Attitude is key in making it through the days ahead; understanding what your feelings, needs, and choices are may help you somewhat. You may find much that you cannot control - what others say, the television commercials, the daily pressures, and the reality that each day your baby is still gone. However, there are some people who say that we need not be governed totally by feelings of helplessness. We do have choices about how much we let this overtake our lives and whether we can choose joy and lightness allowing it to come, as well as the pain and darkness that can't be helped.
Many parents describe a time anywhere generally from 4 -7 months when they report feeling as bad, or worse, than right after the baby died. Some people think they are going crazy, seek a counselor, look for reasons why this is happening. Sadly, they do not know that this is very normal and shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, the cards have stopped coming, the donated food in the refrigerator is gone, life seems to be moving on for everyone else, and the shock is beginning to subside a bit. You may feel that others have forgotten. And truth be told, most are back on their life journey and do not think much about your baby or that you still may be suffering. What do you now?
This is the time that many people find it important to reach out to others - online, at support groups, at church or synagogue, counselors, other parents/grandparents who have been through this. Of course, this makes sense. Though the rest of the world may move on, it is hard for you to do so. You may find that your partner may be moving forward sooner than you and this can complicate things - when you are on different tracks. Your grief journey is bringing you to a different place where hopefully you will find your 'new normal' but you'll never quite be the person you were before.
Why does this happen? Because your little one was loved so much by you that you must go forward realizing that such love and then loss does change you. It does not have to all be dark and bad and sad. In fact, you may find in time that you view relationships differently, that you notice small and large beautiful things like butterflies and sunsets, flowers and rainbows, people smiling at you and being blessed by others' kindnesses. Allow yourself to be changed and grow in peace that these can be viewed as gifts. Gifts of love.
Trust your instincts. Find ways to move the pain from inside to the outside if you are able. Write, pray, play, love, take baths and long walks, count your blessings when you can.
One simple idea is to get or make a 'grateful jar'. We have begun to create some beautiful ones in our eShop. Put your messages and lists of gratefulness in when you feel them. Then on those challenging and down days take some out to remind yourself that a better moment or day will come again.
Some counselors suggest that you 'make an appointment' with your grief. Pick a time that you will prepare your space and your mind to intentionally grieve. Do it fully; jump in with both feet. If you set aside an hour or two for this, then use the whole time. When that predetermined time is up, put your things away and take a break from your grief.
Believe you will survive and grow eventually as you find your ‘new normal.’ Find your 'go to' people and go to them. Be as positive as you can, don't harm yourself or others (and if you have serious thoughts like this tell someone. You need outside intervention immediately. Call 911). Seek out the resources. Find ways to bring light into your day and your heart. You can do this!