Honoring Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness: Embracing Healing with DBT Skills

Losing a baby during pregnancy or infancy is an unimaginable heartache that no one should ever endure. The pain associated with such a loss runs deep, leaving an emptiness that feels impossible to fill. October is recognized as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. If you’ve felt this deep pain, there is hope for healing and embracing the journey towards recovery during this darkness.

Understanding the Grief and Emotions After Pregnancy or Infant Loss

The grief after losing a pregnancy or infant is profound. Your emotions may feel uncontrollable and intense. It's normal to experience sadness, anger, guilt, and anxiety—sometimes shifting rapidly between emotions.

  • Sadness: You may often cry as you mourn the loss of hopes and dreams for your child. Remember to give yourself the space and time you need to process these emotions and allow them to come to the surface.
  • Anger: You may feel angry at yourself, your partner, your doctors, or the unfairness of the situation. Find healthy ways to release anger, like exercising, writing in a journal, or talking to others.
  • Guilt: You may question if you could have done something to prevent the loss or feel guilty for specific thoughts or feelings. Remind yourself that pregnancy and infant loss is not your fault. You did nothing wrong.
  • Anxiety: You may be experiencing worry, panic, or difficulty concentrating due to the disruptions in your life. It's important to practice self-care, limit stress when possible, and talk to your doctor if anxiety affects your daily life.

Using mindfulness, you can honor your experiences by reflecting on happy memories with compassion for yourself and your loved ones. While the pain may always remain, healing is possible. In time, the raw intensity of emotions will soften, though waves of grief may return. Be gentle with yourself during this process. You've suffered a tremendous loss and deserve patience and understanding. With support, you will find the strength and resilience to move forward from a place of peace.

Using DBT Skills for Mindfulness and Acceptance After Loss

Losing a pregnancy or an infant can be a traumatic experience for anyone. However, during such a challenging time, you may find comfort in using DBT skills such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, and self-compassion. Harnessing these skills can help you compassionately cope with your grief, making the days easier to bear. Although the pain may never completely disappear, it will become more manageable with time. You will eventually find the strength to honor your loss and move forward with your life.

Accepting Your Emotions

Allow yourself to fully experience the arising emotions rather than pushing them away or judging yourself for them. Allow yourself to cry, scream, or express your grief in whatever feels right. Your emotions are a natural human response to loss.

Practicing Mindfulness

Spending time each day focused on your breathing or the present moment can help reduce feeling overwhelmed by painful emotions. Notice the little details in your surroundings. Be gentle with yourself and avoid harsh self-criticism.

Using Distress Tolerance Techniques

When emotions feel unbearable, try techniques like walking, doing light exercise, listening to calming music, or calling a friend. It can be hard to cope with the loss of a child, and it's important to remember that the intensity of your emotions will eventually decrease. Nonetheless, it's understandable that you'll always cherish the memories of your child.

Showing Yourself Compassion

Speak to yourself with kindness and empathy. Imagine what you might say to a close friend and offer yourself the same comfort. Be patient and remember that healing from pregnancy or infant loss is a journey. Honor the experience for the profound life event that it was.

Emotion Regulation Skills to Cope with the Pain of Loss

Coping with pregnancy and infant loss can be incredibly overwhelming and emotional. However, by utilizing DBT skills, you can learn to better understand and manage these feelings without judgment. With these skills, you can find moments of peace even amidst the pain. Although grief might always be present, the DBT skills will empower you to honor your loss with courage and care for yourself with compassion. You can start walking toward healing by taking it one step at a time.

Here are some of the steps we can suggest for you to try:

  • Take a pause. When emotions start to rise, take a step back and pause. Breathe slowly and deeply, focusing your attention inward. This can help you avoid reacting impulsively.
  • Observe your emotions. Try to identify what you're feeling without immediately trying to change it. Name the emotions, accept them without judgment, and recognize that they're a normal part of grief. This mindfulness practice can help reduce distress and bring a sense of calm.
  • Find opposite emotions. Make an effort to cultivate positive feelings to balance the painful ones. Look through old photos of happy times. Do small acts of kindness for others. Listen to uplifting music. Positive emotions help build resilience and open us to new possibilities.
  • Challenge distressing thoughts. Losing a pregnancy or infant can lead to troubling thoughts like "I'll never be happy again." Gently challenge these thoughts with more balanced ones, like "This is an excruciating time, but there are still sources of comfort and joy, and happiness will return, even if in a different form."
  • Connect with your support network. Talk to people who love and support you. Let them know precisely how they can help. Consider joining a local support group or participating in group therapy for miscarriages to connect with people with similar experiences. Their compassion and understanding can help reduce feelings of isolation.

Distress Tolerance Techniques to Get Through the Hardest Moments

When you're going through a period of intense grief and it feels like the pain is unbearable, it can be helpful to use distress tolerance techniques to cope with your emotions and get through difficult moments. It's important to remember that these techniques are only meant to be temporary solutions, not long-term fixes, but they can provide relief when you need it most.

Using the techniques outlined below and other DBT skills for grief, you can make unbearable moments feel more manageable when you're overwhelmed by loss. Remember to be compassionate and patient with yourself during this difficult time, as healing is a journey, not a destination.

Deep Breathing

Taking deep, slow breaths can help lower your heart rate and calm feelings of panic or distress. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, making each inhale and exhale last for a count of 5 or 10 seconds. Focus on your breath moving in and out. This simple exercise can help ground you in the present moment.

Sensory Awareness

Pay close attention to the sensory details surrounding you—what you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. Name them silently in your mind. This mindfulness technique helps shift your mind from painful thoughts and memories. Notice colors and shapes, listen to different sounds, and feel the texture of objects around you. Engaging your senses can provide a brief respite from emotional pain.


Find ways to distract yourself from painful emotions, if only temporarily temporarily. Do light exercises like walking or yoga, call a friend, read a book, cook a meal, or engage in a hobby. While distraction shouldn't be used as an ongoing solution, it can help you cope with grief at the moment so you can think more clearly once distressing feelings have passed.


Be gentle with yourself and do things that comfort you. Take a warm bath, listen to calming music, read comforting poetry or scripture, drink herbal tea, use essential oils, and get a massage. Think of the types of nurturing activities that soothe you when you're upset. Practicing self-care will help you feel supported even in your darkest moments.

Interpersonal Effectiveness for Seeking Support on the Path to Healing

Seeking support from others who have walked a similar path can help alleviate feelings of isolation and normalize your experiences. Connecting with empathetic listeners brings comfort through shared understanding and wisdom. Some interpersonal effectiveness skills that can aid in forging these connections include:

Expressing Your Needs Assertively

Don't be afraid to let close ones know you need their support. Say, "I'm having a hard time and could use your compassion right now." For new connections, be open and honest gently, e.g., "I recently went through pregnancy loss and am hoping to find others to talk with."

Setting Clear Boundaries

Be very clear in communicating your boundaries to avoid further hurt or disappointment. You might say, "I appreciate your concern, but am not ready to talk about trying again just yet." It's okay to limit interactions that feel emotionally taxing while you heal.

Practicing Empathetic Listening

Connecting with others also means being there for them in return. Listen without judgment and reflect on what you're hearing to show you understand. Say something like, "It sounds like you went through a traumatic experience. I'm so sorry for your loss." Offer a sympathetic ear and share resources that have helped you.

Compromising When You Can

No one can fully understand what you're going through, so try to be open to imperfect support. Gently educate others on how to show up for you and meet them halfway by compromising on their limitations. Appreciate their efforts and understand they mean well, even if it's not exactly what you need all the time.

Healing after a loss can feel like an uphill climb. But it's essential to remember that you don't have to go through it alone. A robust support system of people you trust, such as friends, family, or therapists can make your journey more manageable. Take care of yourself and allow healing to come at the pace you need.

Every day is a new opportunity to honor your loss and nurture your healing. Although the pain of grief may never entirely disappear, surrounding yourself with compassionate connections can make it more bearable. Remember that it's okay to take the time you need to heal.

If you or someone you know has recently experienced a pregnancy or infant loss or is looking for therapy after a miscarriage, don't hesitate to contact Pure Health Center to schedule a free screening call. DBT skills for grief offer a roadmap for embracing healing and navigating recovery. With patience, self-compassion, and time, you can find peace and strength to face the future.

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