Having a miscarriage is a multi-faceted, painful experience. The hope and excitement you should be carrying is replaced by a dream that has gone cold.
Future dates that were supposed to have significance no longer do. Conversations with friends and family you imagined having no longer make sense. Suddenly, you’re free to go on that vacation or say yes to that commitment, but you wish you weren’t. You try to go about your daily life but your “normal” has shifted.
As you try to make sense of the dissonance between your dreams and your reality, you’re tempted to adopt a narrative that is damaging to your sense of identity. It can be difficult to know how to begin to heal. How do we recover from the loss of what was and the loss of what might have been? Here are a few tips on finding healing from my own experience of facing miscarriage.
Name and honor your feelings.
Yes, you are healing from the experience of a miscarriage, but it’s important to understand how you are experiencing that pain. Our stories influence the kind of feelings we feel when we hurt. We cannot heal unless we name the pain that needs healing.
We cannot heal unless we name the pain that needs healing.
Whatever that feeling is, honor it. There is no strength in pretending it doesn’t exist nor performing with a lack of vulnerability that only numbs you from the healing you desperately need.
Identify who you are.
Sometimes, the experience of a miscarriage can be all-consuming when it comes to your identity. It moves from something that happens to you to something you are.
The experience of a miscarriage can be all-consuming when it comes to our identity.
We forget that we are friends who embrace others. We are professionals who use our gifts with skill. We are partners who are capable of giving and receiving love. We are women of character.
Intentionally naming the identities that remain in the wake of what’s been lost will help you to ground yourself in what is true. You are more than this loss.
Be a good steward of your pain.
All feelings are understandable. It’s okay to not be okay, but you are still responsible for what you do with your feelings. How you choose to react to your feelings will make a significant difference in whether you perpetuate the pain or connect with others and take a healthy step toward healing.
We don’t get to choose what kind of pain comes our way in life. We are, however, empowered to make choices about how we respond.
The experience of having a miscarriage can leave you feeling powerless and even betrayed by your own body. However, you are not completely helpless. You can control how you manage the pain of your miscarriage from a psychological, emotional, spiritual and relational perspective.
Exercising choice around when and who you connect with in your hurt, educating yourself about your options moving forward and practicing self-care are all important action steps in your healing.
Connect with others.
Having a miscarriage can be an isolating experience. Because the symptoms are largely invisible, it can be difficult to obtain the compassion, empathy and connection that are helpful to your healing. If you don’t yet have children, then it’s easy to feel like you don’t belong in circles of friends who do.
Also, it’s a common tendency to assume that no one can possibly understand your pain if they haven’t endured it themselves. While your friends may not have experience in your particular brand of suffering, we all know what it’s like to be in pain. It’s part of being human. Letting people in to comfort you in the ways they are able to, creates a pathway for the connection you desperately need. That’s part of being human too.
We all know what it’s like to be in pain. It’s part of being human.
If you’ve experienced a miscarriage, I am so sorry. I know that pain, and it’s devastating. You’ve not only said good-bye to what was, but you’ve been forced to let go of the picture you took in your mind the instant you found out you were pregnant, of what would have been.
No matter how common miscarriages might be, there is nothing “normal” about the loss you have experienced. Yet, honoring the pain, exercising your sense of agency and connecting with others will allow you to begin to heal and integrate your grief into your story—to hold what was with great love and care and be open to possibilities of what may be.