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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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."
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.
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.
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.