If you have experienced a miscarriage, still birth, or premature birth where your baby did not survive, you are probably in a great deal of pain. Losing a baby is difficult, not only for the parents, but often for the whole family.
Losing a Baby Is Traumatic
Losing a baby is painful and devastating. You may feel numb, helpless, and emotionally overwhelmed. Your whole world instantly falls apart- your sense of self and your hopes and dreams for the future are shattered. The loss often happens suddenly and unexpectedly, which deepens the trauma.
In our society, the traumatizing effects of losing a baby are often unrecognized. There is an attitude that because you didn’t know the baby, you can’t possibly be too upset by the loss. Others do not understand the depth of grief involved in losing a baby, and even if they do, they expect you to get over it quickly.
The Importance of Supportive Relationships When Grieving
Having a supportive partner or relative to rely on for connection and support makes healing from the pain and trauma easier. A loving relationship can be a protective cushion when you are feeling sad about what happened.
If you are left emotionally alone and unsupported, it will not only be more difficult to heal your emotional wounds, but it will leave you in an emotional abyss. You may be at a higher risk of suffering a secondary trauma, which can be caused by the sense of feeling alone when experiencing intense emotional pain.
A supportive friend, family member, or partner will:
- Be empathic and responsive to your needs
- Acknowledge your emotions and recognize your wounds
- Be willing to simply witnesses your pain
- Not try to “fix” your emotions
- Provide comfort and reassurance when you are feeling weak and vulnerable
Research shows that 9/11 survivors who avoided seeking support from others experienced more flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, and depression. Survivors of 9/11 that turned to others for help were better adjusted after the attack.
If you are facing trauma, a loved one can help you find strength and resilience.
Supportive relationships can help you deal with and heal trauma by:
- Soothing your pain and giving you comfort.
Physical and emotional closeness calms your nervous system and helps you find emotional balance. Feeling comfort from a partner or other loving person is the best way to regulate your negative emotions. The effects are more powerful than those of any drug.
- Helping you hold on to hope.
Supportive relationships can give you a reason to keep going. When you are sad and grieving it is hard to be hopeful. During this time, your partner or your friend can be hopeful for both of you.
- Reassuring you that the “new” person you have become is still valued and loved.
After a traumatic event, it is common to feel scared, ashamed, and unhappy. You may have a sense of guilt and responsibility for losing the baby. Ultimately, you may think yourself unworthy of care and attention. A supportive person can reassure you that you are not to blame for what happened and that you are not weak for feeling helpless and overwhelmed. It also helps to hear that being overwhelmed by such traumatic events is not a mark of failure.
- Helping you make sense of what has happened.
Part of healing from trauma is being able to grasp the cataclysmic impact of the loss to your family and shape it into a coherent story- one that makes sense out of the chaos. By sharing stories of what happened, you and your family can bring meaning and create order out of the overwhelming feelings. By creating a new story of your baby’s short life you can begin to recover a sense of control in your lives.
The good news is that the best predictor of the long-term impact of any traumatic event is not the severity of the event, but whether or not you are able to get comfort from others.
If you have experienced a miscarriage or have lost a baby and don’t have anyone to turn to, you may benefit from professional help. Professional counseling can help even if you have emotional support- it can help you cope with the loss better.
Having a therapist that specializes in pregnancy and pregnancy-related losses can help you feel less alone. Remember that what happened was not your fault; you deserve the help you need to heal. You were not in control of the loss of your baby, but you are control of your life now. You can take action to seek the support you need to move forward.
Call for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation at (281)267-1742.