Losing a Pregnancy or Older Child

Find grief support resources for coping with the loss of a child or pregnancy.

Coping with Miscarriage, Stillbirth, & Infant Loss

The grief of miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss is not like any other. It is often a silent and unexpected tragedy and there may be no explanation for the loss. When you lose a baby, that relationship did not have a chance to develop. The goodbye came before you had a chance to say hello. You may also mourn the loss of what could have been.

Common Responses

You may feel: 

  • Anger and disbelief
  • Shocked
  • Sad and bitter about lost hopes and dreams
  • Confused and numb
  • Full of questions
  • Restless
  • Like you're going crazy
  • Alone, isolated or lost
  • Uncertain
  • Disappointed
  • Not able to concentrate
  • Preoccupied with thoughts of the baby

Physical reactions. You may:

  • Cry
  • Feel exhausted
  • Have tightness in chest
  • Feel short of breath
  • Feel weak
  • Have a faster heart rate or dry mouth

Helping Yourself Heal

  • Spend time with those who bring you comfort and support
  • Limit contact with those who do not understand your grief
  • Tell people what you need
  • Cry when you need to
  • Find ways to deal with stress using soothing activities
  • Be careful using alcohol or prescription drugs
  • Set small goals
  • Take grief breaks

Ways to Express Your Loss

  • Write in a journal
  • Write poetry, paint or draw
  • Have rituals that honor your baby
  • Pray or meditate
  • Create a memory quilt or scrapbook
  • Go to a grief support group or meet with a counselor

Pregnancy After a Loss

Couples who get pregnant after a loss can have feelings of fear and doubt. Here are suggestions for coping with a pregnancy after a loss:

  • Talk with others who have suffered a loss and then had a healthy baby
  • Talk with others who have had babies to remind you that most pregnancies end happily
  • Ask your doctor what extra precautions you should take, what subtle signs to watch for, and what extra tests are available
  • Remember that it is very normal to have anxiety at this time.
  • Realize that it might be hard to be joyful and happy because of your fears and past experience
  • Education and awareness can help you feel more in control

Couples & Families Dealing with the Loss of a Child

Suggestions for coping:

  • Resolve to be gentle with yourself and other family members as you adjust to the pain of your loss.
  • Have family meetings and talk with one another each day. Be open and honest about your feelings of sadness, frustration, or guilt. Your partner may also be experiencing some of these feelings.
  • Respect that individuals grieve differently. One partner may cry a lot and want to talk about the death. The other partner may withdraw and ask to be alone. Both of these are normal reactions. Try to accept these differences in grieving and coping strategies.
  • Communicate what you need. Do not assume that your partner knows how you feel. Ask to be alone, or say that you want to talk about the child who died. Tell your partner exactly what you would find comforting (if you know this yourself) at a given moment.
  • Remember this is a vulnerable time. You may feel irritable. You may be absent-minded or forgetful. You also may feel easily overwhelmed with daily tasks. This happens because the task of grieving consumes so much of your mental energy. Try to accept these changes in yourself and your partner, and help out when you can. Simplify tasks when possible.
  • Practice forgiveness. Try to forgive irritable or inpatient behavior and apologize when you are the one who was short tempered with your family members. Find safe outlets for expressing anger such as journaling exercises or venting with someone you trust.
  • Seek support. Grieving parents can support each other. Simple things like holding hands, wiping a tear, or giving a hug, mean so much. Also, develop the support that you need from friends, a grief counselor, another bereaved parent, or a support group. With both partners grieving, neither may feel they have much to give.
  • Work together. Work together on a memorial for your child. Include siblings/grandchildren- in discussing special ways of honoring your child who died.
  • Emphasize the positive. Find time for play and laughter as a couple/family. Praise your partner and yourself for doing the best you are able in a difficult situation.

Getting Help

You may want to think about getting professional help if several weeks have passed and you have any of these symptoms:

  • Feeling anger or irritable toward others
  • A hard time doing the normal activities of work or home
  • Becoming distant from your partner, family, or friends
  • Using alcohol, drugs, or addictive behaviors to ease the pain of grief
  • Ongoing trouble eating or sleeping
  • Not able to speak of your baby or child who died

It is common to have mood swings after a loss. But get help right away from your doctor, counselor, or the emergency room if you have thoughts of harming yourself or others.

Coping with the Holidays

Holidays can be a difficult time. Here are some suggestions for coping:

  • Be gentle with yourself and those closest to you
  • Honor your baby or child with each holiday/anniversary
    • Make or purchase a special ornament in your baby or child's honor
    • Give a holiday donation in memory of your baby or child
    • Plant a tree, bush or plant
    • Share mementos with family, friend, or counselor
  • Limit social gatherings
  • Christmas/Hanukkah
    • Limit decorating
    • Avoid shopping on weekends or shop online
    • Open presents on a different day or time
    • Place a wreath at gravesite or memorial site
  • Mother's Day and Father's Day
    • Celebrate with your own parents or those closest to you
    • Purchase a mother's ring or other birthstone jewelry
  • Change holiday traditions for this year
  • Consider the needs of grieving children

Looking for Support?

Call Grief Support Services at 218-786-4402 for more information regarding counseling and grief support groups for children, teens, and adults.