Coping With Loss

If you have recently lost a baby, then most likely healing seems impossible right now. For you, I would like to offer hope that life will get better and you will one day be able to start healing. I encourage you to be gentle on yourself and take each day minute by minute. Mourning the loss of your baby and grieving openly will eventually lead you to the path of healing.

Also it's important to work through your grief at a pace that feels right to you. Every person is different. Some people need days to start healing, others months, others years. 

Furthermore, some people find that having a support teams helps, while others find that healing is more of a solitary journey. There is not a set course you can follow, or a manual to read. Instead, you will have to find what works for you. 

Healing will probably come slowly at first. It's not something that is likely to happen overnight, but rather it will gradually become a part of each day. Crying and letting your natural emotions come to the surface are forms of healing, so don't assume if you are not coping well that you are unable to heal. Keep in mind that you will probably never be able to return to your old life, to what you used to consider "normal" and "everyday". What's important is that you find ways to cope with the loss of your baby that allow you to reach a new normal, a new way of functioning and living a healthy life. 

Here is a list of things that worked for me:

1. Get help from others. If you find that you are depressed, physically achy, unable to sleep, losing weight rapidly, or feeling suicidal, you should consider seeing a medical professional. Ask your OB for a referral to a licensed therapist. If you are experiencing feelings of confusion, loss, loneliness, anger, or guilt, you may benefit from a local support group where you can talk openly with others who know what it's like to lose a child. You can ask your OB or hospital staff member, or search the internet, for the name and location of support groups for child loss and baby loss in your area. . 

2. Talk to other babyloss parents who experienced their loss over a year or two ago. It helps if you can talk to someone who not only knows what you're feeling now but who can tell you that it does get easier as time goes on. It may seem impossible now, but you may take comfort in knowing that most couples who experience a loss do eventually find peace and do end up having happy lives.

3. Find activities that bring you peace, solitude and moments of reflection. For me, I found that photography, writing, going to church, going for walks alone, watching sunsets, and reading poetry all helped. It helps to escape the natural chaos of the world around you, as often times life can be overwhelming and stressful. Right now you just need to focus on taking care of yourself. 

4. Set up a place in your home for your baby. It can be as big or small as you want. It can be in your living room, bedroom, the baby's nursery, a hallway, your backyard or anywhere you feel is best. Having a tangible place in your house may help you to feel your child's presence and help reinforce the truth that he's always going to be a part of your life. 

5. Take some time each day to focus on everything in your life that you're thankful for. If you believe in God, taking a moment to thank Him for the blessings you have received can be a much needed break from focusing on your losses. If you don't believe in God, consider just silently reflecting on everything you do have... your spouse, your family, your other children, your health, your home, great friends, your job. It may bring you comfort to focus on your life's blessings.

6. For me, praying and going to church helped. It also helped to read Scripture passages about hope, faith, suffering, loss and God's mercy. If you are not sure of your belief in God, or the loss of your child has caused you to lose faith in God, it may still help you to read the Bible to see if it brings you any peace or understanding. I recommend The One Year Book of Hope as it has several Bible passages relevant to those who have experienced a loss. Or you can ask your minister or priest for guidance, or simply just go to church. Alternatives to the Bible, are inspirational books of poetry. I like Khalil Gibran and Mary Oliver, but you can do your own search for a writer that speaks to you.

7. Avoid people who are not supportive or insensitive to your loss. During this difficult time, the last thing you need is people who don't understand your loss, subjecting you to insensitive comments. You've suffered the worst loss imaginable... you are entitled to take as much time as you need to grieve and mourn your loss. Being around people who tell you to move on with your life or who clearly do not understand the gravity of the situation, is only going to upset you. Instead try to surround yourself with friends and family who are supportive and who make you feel better, not worse. 

8. Remember your baby in special ways. Studies show that having objects that remind you of your baby, help in the healing process. If you have keepsakes from the hospital, take some time each day to go through them. Or create/buy new keepsakes.

9. Organize a balloon release or do one yourself. It can feel very comforting to physically let go of something. Consider adding flower seeds to the balloons or attaching a message to your baby. You can also release paper lanterns or butterflies.