Partners in Grief
Pregnancy loss affects the entire family system. It may seem like most of the focus and attention is on the woman who experienced the physical loss; however, your loss experience is just as important to acknowledge.
As her partner, you may feel the need to be “the strong one” in order to care for her physical and emotional well-being. As a result, this may not leave you with the opportunity to express your own unique feelings of grief within your shared loss. It may also make it challenging to ask others for help during this difficult time.
It is important to understand that this experience of loss is a shared loss; something that has happened to both of you. You may be surprised to find that you are experiencing similar feelings of disappointment, anger and sadness as those of your partner. You may believe that expressing your sadness may make things worse for your partner, but this is rarely the case, as she needs to know that she is not in this alone.
You may be pulled to continue to try to “keep things together” and take care of business as you always have, such as returning to work or managing the household duties. Grieving styles between you and your partner will be different which can lead to misunderstandings or a disconnection with one another about the level of sadness you both feel. Sometimes loss, however, can bring you closer as a couple and as a family.
While there are no specific guidelines for grieving, there are some tips that can be helpful for the unique situation in which you find yourself. Some considerations may be:
- Take some time off of work or your regular activities, despite the possible desire to return right away.
- Let your family know that you may need some extra help, even if you don’t know exactly what you need.
- Allow yourself to feel the full range of your emotions. Try not to delay or distract yourself from them.
- Seek professional help if and when you think you may need or want it (see “How to Seek Out Mental Health Treatment”).
- Consider journaling and/or reaching out to other bereaved parents for support.
- Let your partner know how you are feeling.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the sadness and anger you may be feeling.
- Explore other outlets to express your grief, such as physical exercise.
- Pay attention to any physical symptoms you may be experiencing (e.g., headaches, stomach upset, restless sleep) and see your medical provider if these symptoms worsen.
The journey through grief can be a long and painful process. There is help along the way. Identifying that you are also grieving is the first step in beginning to take care of yourself and one another.