Grieving a Miscarriage
You or someone you know has had a miscarriage. It’s statistically true, because one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. Yet we have had a hard time in our culture figuring out how to talk about them much less grieve them. Grieving is the internal experience of a loss - thoughts, feelings, memories, and can be the precursor to mourning. Mourning is everything that a person does after a loss to adjust to life as it is. Grief is isolating and when it comes to grieving a miscarriage it can be devastating. Women fear that no one will get it, or they share with someone who doesn’t get it and they say something insensitive (“You can always try again next time.”) And they suffer in silence.
A difficult thing about grieving a miscarriage is that there is a lack of physical evidence and memories to help in the mourning process. There is rarely a funeral, no one sends cards or brings a casserole. This week I read The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage where Angela Elson tells the story of her miscarriage and what she did to mourn it.
As a fertility therapist, part of the work I help people do is bring their internal grief into the physical world. Ritual is an excellent way to do that, but it can be hard to figure out what to do and what feels right. Trying to figure out your mourning ritual can give you somewhere to put the energy of the overwhelming emotions you are having about your loss. I’ve known people to plant trees, buy Christmas ornaments, preserve an ultrasound or pregnancy test, donate money to a worthy cause, wear a certain color on a certain day of the week - the possibilities are infinite and personal - you have to find what works for you. A healthy ritual can help to preserve the bond between you and your baby.
After reading her article you may feel inspired to join Angela Elson's virtual jizo garden.
Allison Ramsey is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and fertility counseling specialist in the Asheville area. She’s a member of Resolve, The Infertility Association and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Contact her to start feeling better.