Feeling emotional after the loss of a pregnancy is natural and common. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve a miscarriage.
Grieving for your pregnancy, your baby, and all that came with the experience is an intimate and unique process.
You may experience intense emotions, or you could feel numb and detached. You may not even be sure how you feel or should react. These are all natural ways to cope with a significant loss.
How a miscarriage affects you depends on many factors, including your circumstances, support, and emotional resources.
For the parent who was pregnant, miscarriage grief may also involve hormonal changes that further impact the way they feel physically, emotionally, and mentally. For their partner, the experience may feel isolating if they feel others don’t understand their loss.
Experiencing these thoughts and emotions is part of the healing journey, even if it doesn’t feel like it at times.
The grieving pain usually decreases on its own with time. Sometimes, it may take a while. Other times, support may be needed. In all cases, you’re not alone, and help is available.
The five stages of grief
It’s possible you go through different emotional phases while you grieve a miscarriage.
The five stages of grief aren’t a model on how to grieve. Instead, they may serve as a reference to understand some possible ways you could feel after this experience.
There’s no order to these stages, and you may even skip some of them altogether. Every experience is valid.
The five stages of grief are:
- Denial. You may hope your healthcare team was wrong and that there’s still hope.
- Anger. You might feel rage at yourself, your partner, or a higher power.
- Bargaining. You may think of everything you can do or could have done “right.”
- Depression. You could cry, feel there’s no point in getting up, and have a sense of hopelessness.
- Acceptance. You can acknowledge your loss, readjust, and learn to live with the fact.
It’s natural to experience these stages at the same time or in a cyclic way.
For many, experiencing a miscarriage feels like losing a child. The sense of loss can be intense and emotionally painful.
Even though everyone’s experience is unique, these are some ways you could feel after losing a pregnancy:
Physical and cognitive effects
- memory lapses
- difficulty focusing
- aches and pains
- difficulty learning new things
- feelings of emptiness
- intense sadness
- anger and resentment
- shock and disbelief
- constant changes in how you feel
- sense of loneliness
- thoughts of suicide
- changes in appetite and sleeping patterns
- little or no interest in usual activities
- emotional detachment from others
- changes in habits or goals
- need to get and stay busy
- avoidance of the topic
- need to constantly talk about the loss
- friction in your interpersonal relationships
- social withdrawal or isolation
A miscarriage can have many possible emotional effects.
The way you feel after a miscarriage can be the result of a natural grieving process, symptoms of depression, and hormonal changes.
Miscarriage grief isn’t linear and there’s no timeline for healing. You could feel this way for days or even months.
“We don’t simply get over a loss. It gets weaved into the fabric of who we are,” says Annia Palacios, a licensed professional counselor in Southlake, Texas. “However, we do find that the loss becomes more manageable over time and the intensity of the grief decreases week by week.”
Palacios says that most people experience this emotional pain for about 3 to 4 months. But this is only a reference.
It’s possible, though, that you continue feeling this way for longer than that. Sometimes, you may think your emotional pain is getting more intense. If that’s the case, you could be experiencing depression or complicated grief.
Only a mental health professional can accurately diagnose your symptoms and support you in developing a plan that works for you. Whatever is your case, help is available and emotional relief is possible.
What you’re feeling is valid. It’s also common, particularly if you haven’t received the support you need.
It’s important to allow yourself to grieve in whatever way feels right for you.
Here are some ideas that may help you cope:
Consider honoring their memory
You may find that a meaningful ritual can help with the miscarriage mourning process.
Some ideas include:
- creating a memorial fund
- getting a memorial tattoo
- lighting a candle
- naming your baby
- planting a tree
- writing your child a letter
Try to work with your partner
A miscarriage can be traumatic for both you and your partner. How a miscarriage feels emotionally may be different for each of you.
You may find it helpful to:
- recognize that you have different ways of coping
- write down your feelings and read them to each other
- commemorate the loss together
- take your time talking about sex and trying again
- if tensions are high, try to find a couple’s therapist
Try to find professional support
Miscarriage grief is often disenfranchised, meaning society may not grant it the time, space, and respect that it would grant for, say, the death of a parent, explains Jessica Meiman, a licensed psychotherapist in New York City.
“Therapy offers the space that society typically does not,” she says. “It grants the loss the opportunity to be talked about and allows a person the safety to feel feelings like guilt, resentment, and anger, that may be discouraged or minimized in other relationships.”
Try to be gentle with yourself
If possible, try to accept that you’re in a grieving process that takes time — and that’s OK.
“There is no way to know how long it will take. Everyone’s grief experience is different. I’ve seen people manage it well and get back to a good place within 6 months, while others take a little less or a little more,” says Hayley Wilds, a licensed professional counselor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“In my own experience, the grief came in waves,” she adds. “I had periods of stability and periods of overwhelming emotion. Once I learned to ride the waves instead of trying to stop them, they became less intense.”
Consider joining a support group
Social support is important, but it can be hard to find, says Wilds.
“People are well-meaning, but friends and family don’t always know what to say and sometimes say the wrong thing,” she explains. “Facebook groups geared toward infant loss and miscarriage can provide excellent social support.”
Some useful resources may include:
- Bereaved Parents of the USA
- Bo’s Place
- Center for Loss in Multiple Birth, Inc.
- Empty Arms Bereavement Support
- Empty Cradle
- First Candle
- Glow in the Woods
- Grieving Dads
- International Stillbirth Alliance
- Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss Facebook Group
- Miscarriage Association
- Miscarriage for Men
- MISS Foundation
- Postpartum Support International
- Return to Zero: H.O.P.E.
- The Compassionate Friends
- The Tiny Miracles Foundation
- Tommy’s Baby Loss Support Group
After a miscarriage, it’s common to wonder whether or not to try again.
Some people prefer to wait several months, while others may want to try again right away. There’s no right or wrong answer here — it’s up to you and your partner.
Working with health professionals may help you come up with your own decision while considering both the physical and emotional aspects of the process.