sharing your stories and remembering your children
By Emily Graham
Pregnancy loss is one of the most gut-wrenching tragedies that can strike a family. Losing a child due to a miscarriage or stillbirth can be just as devastating as losing an older child, and it’s very common to develop serious depression and anxiety in the subsequent weeks and months.
It’s important to know that it’s okay to feel sad. Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve. A loss like this - one so personal - is going to take time to fully heal. Having said that, it’s also important that you know that there are ways to help you manage your depression. The Early Pregnancy Loss Association hopes this guide will offer you some hope and support during this unimaginable time.
Know when ‘healthy’ grief turns into something worse
There’s no set timeline for dealing with a loss of this caliber. Every parent reacts differently, with some pushing through and surfacing in a good emotional place faster than others. Nobody can tell you how you should feel, but you should know that grief of this nature tends to “move,” according to Postpartum Progress.
“‘Healthy’ grief moves, but sometimes it can develop into relentless depression that requires more specific treatment. Many moms will experience depression that includes feelings of guilt, shame, self-doubt, and sometimes suicidal ideation. Regaining a sense of self, hope, and trust is important to one’s healing after a loss such as this,” says the blog.
If you find yourself “stuck” in a rut of depression for an extended period of time, it may be a signal to seek professional help.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and get out
There are no rules for this. Nobody says you have to struggle with the pain alone. When dealing with depression, reaching out to friends and family for support can be a great way to start to heal. Try to get out and do things that make you feel happy - even if it’s hard. The loss of a child through miscarriage is not your fault, and there’s no need to punish yourself in solitude.
Boost your body and brain for better mental health
Depression and anxiety start in the brain, but develop a life of their own after a while and begin to negatively affect every part of your body. If you find yourself suffering from depression, it will help to take the time to take care of your mind and body.
For your mind, turn to a practice like meditation, which has been proven to help reduce the effects of stress and anxiety. You can even create a “solitude space” in your home dedicated to meditation so you can get the most benefits from this practice. Make sure the area you choose is away from the everyday hustle-and-bustle of your household, and resist having distractions like electronic devices.
Sometimes indulgence is one way to deal with stress and anxiety, but it can have long-term effects if ignored. Are you overeating? Or perhaps even drinking more than usual? Look at what you’re eating and drinking and see where you can make improvements. A poor diet gives your brain and body the wrong type of fuel, and it’s hard to overcome depression when your brain is running on processed foods.
Exercise is important too, as it can help you clear your head and release chemicals that trigger your brain’s happy centers. Physical activity has a way of forcing the brain to refocus, and through repeated efforts you are likely to see a noticeable improvement in how you feel.
Getting a good night’s sleep is also important and you should for at least 8 hours a night.
If you are having trouble sleeping, physical activity should help, but it’s also good to remove distractions from your bedroom like TVs, phones, or tablets. Additionally, a light yoga flow is a great way to prep your mind and body for a good night’s sleep.
Turn to other companionship
Oftentimes turning to family and friends is not enough, or perhaps they don’t understand how to talk about what you are going through. When battling severe depression, enlist the help of a counselor and spend time with a support group. You do not have to weather this storm alone, and being around people who can help you through your grief will prevent feelings of isolation.
Do be gentle with yourself throughout this process. You are not running a race, and there’s no reason to add extra pressure. Time does bring healing, but when you are in the thick of depression, it’s impossible to pinpoint when or how long that will be. In the long run, being good to yourself and taking extra care will make navigating the difficult road of loss more manageable.
For more supportive resources, visit the Early Pregnancy Loss Association website.
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