Grief and Coping Q&A

Grief is a scary thing: you don’t know how to handle your emotions and they can pull you down into a dark place where you aren’t sure you’ll ever see the light of day again. As you face the challenge of moving on after the loss of your baby, you likely have many questions that keep returning to your mind. We hope we can answer some of them here.

If you have other questions that are not discussed here, please contact us or your parish priest or pastoral associate so that you can continue to move forward in your grief.



Does it ever get better?

Truthfully, yes, it really, truly does! We have been through this ourselves and met others who have done the same, and we would not lie to you. Right now it may feel like you will never be able to look at baby again, or stop crying at random times throughout the day or night, but please know that time really does help you heal both physically and emotionally. 

This does not mean you will forget, and it does not mean that everything will be the same. You will find a “new normal,” which might include a new compassion for others who have been through the same experience. It also means that you have lost the innocence of the subconscious “it will never happen to me” line of thought, since you were thrust into the reality of losing a baby. You will start to learn to live with that knowledge. There will still be better days and worse days. But to reiterate our point: yes, life goes on and the grief gets better.

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When will it get better?

Here is an image that Lost Innocents found that describes the answer to this perfectly:

Honestly (and unfortunately, if you wanted a direct answer), everyone heals on a different timeline because everyone lost a different child with a different partner in different circumstances.

But as we said above, it does get better; it just might change from day to day and in different places at different times. You will start to notice small milestones, such as the first time you laugh, or the first time you didn’t cry for an entire day, or the first time you didn’t tear up when you thought about your baby. The most important thing to remember is that no one else has been in your exact shoes, and therefore no one else can tell you how or how long to grieve. You might be having a good few days until you see that maternity shirt that you had bought and left in a bottom drawer. Unfortunately, you’ll never know when something will trigger your grief so you can’t prepare for it. There will be days you fall back but other days where you are completely functional and calm. A miscarriage or stillbirth is a terrible trauma to go through for both parents, and as you likely know, it will knock you down for a time. But minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, you will start to see the progression forward. And all of this is completely and totally normal.  

One last note: it can help to make plans and accomplish tasks throughout your day, even if it’s just one simple thing like showering. Don’t go overboard, because you still need to have downtime in which to process your grief, but small steps forward will make a big change over time.

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Will I forget?

No. You will not forget. You may forget small details of the time surrounding the death, but never the death or your child. As Lost Innocents put it, “Sometimes you wish you could forget, sometimes you are terrified you’ll forget.”

If you can make the time and effort, while you still remember the details surrounding your child’s life, it can be very helpful to write down everything about the pregnancy, birth, and after, then keep it somewhere so you can look back if you wish. This can allow you to avoid thinking about the negative details while knowing that if you want to remember them, you can always read this account. We encourage you to focus on the blessings you received throughout the whole experience, such as the baby’s body, the support of friends or family, and the kind gestures from strangers, such as an ultrasound technician who gave you a hug when you needed it most.

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What if it happens again?

Perhaps you have had uneventful, healthy pregnancies in the past. As we said above, your innocence is now gone and you may be quite anxious about the health of any future pregnancy. If you are struggling with the anxiety, please speak with your doctor or midwife about it and share your concerns. If you don’t have a doctor or midwife who will take you seriously, find one who will.

Most importantly, please pray! Once you have conceived, God has given you a baby, and regardless of the outcome, you are a mother and a father forever. As stressful as it may feel, try to make this baby’s life a happy time, whether for a few days or years to come.

Finally, we can’t guarantee that your pregnancy will be a healthy one, but we can pray for you, if you let us know here.

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Is this grief or depression?

(from Lost Innocents‘ “The Actual Process” under “Recovery”):

One thing that people are not told to expect is some depression. Obviously, there is the grief from losing your baby, but there are other factors at play. When you deliver, whether at 8 weeks or 40, the hormones that have been very high during pregnancy drop precipitously. This is usually referred to as “the baby blues” and if more severe or persistent, “postpartum depression.” What most people are not aware of is that women who miscarry are at as least as much risk for postpartum depression as women who deliver live babies and usually more. If you have delivered a living baby you will be distracted by the care of a newborn and you will be surrounded by balloons and flowers and congratulations. After a miscarriage you not only do not have these, but you have the added grief of pregnancy loss. Do not hesitate to get help if this is becoming a problem. Pills will not make grief go away, but you may need some support for the physical causes of depression.

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I’m actually doing okay. Is there something wrong with me?

There is nothing wrong with you! Be grateful that God has blessed you with a slightly easier road. There are many reasons why someone might not have as much anguish over the loss of his or her baby, and it has nothing to do with how much you loved your baby or what kind of person you are. For instance, some people miscarry before they even realize they are pregnant, and some people have other life obstacles or difficulties that make the miscarriage take a backseat. And some people, for whatever reason, just grieve more easily than others because they are more equipped to keep life’s events in perspective.

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My husband/wife is already moving on/stuck in a rut.

Everybody grieves differently, and a husband and wife are no exception. Unfortunately, many men feel that they need to be strong for their wife, or that they need to “fix” the situation and make everything better because they see the woman they love crying all day long. But fixing a miscarriage isn’t possible. The woman sees these responses as proof that her husband doesn’t think anything’s wrong, and maybe even looks down on her for feeling so grieved.

Whatever is going on in your home, whether you are the man or the woman in the relationship, please, please talk about it with your spouse. It is the best thing you can do besides pray. Many couples divorce after the death of a child, and we do not want you to become part of that statistic by refusing to be honest about what you are feeling or thinking. Make sure you don’t blame each other for anything related to the miscarriage, or the miscarriage itself. Be willing to forgive the other for not being perfect and be open to forgiveness yourself. Remember that you are working together; you are on the same team and you both went through the loss together, and need to heal from it together as well.

Much of this website can be helpful to either parent, but there are a few specific websites out there that are geared specifically toward bereaved fathers. If you think this might help you or your spouse, please visit this page. (Please be aware that some links may have information in opposition to Church teaching, and we do not endorse them, although we still believe the links provide other valuable information.)

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What are some things I can do as I move forward?

  1. Pray. Pray for yourself, for strength and peace, for your spouse, for your other children, and for the child(ren) you lost. Also, ask your children to pray for you! We ask the Saints to intercede for us, and you can now ask for your child’s intercession as well, for you and your family. For other examples of prayers you could pray, look on our Prayers and Liturgics page. We also ask that you say a prayer or two for the contributors to this website and our continued ministry to those experiencing miscarriage.
  2. Offer up your sufferings for the good of others, including yourself, your spouse, or any children or future children. “Offer suffering to God and it can become ‘an instrument of salvation, a path to holiness, that helps us reach Heaven'” (Pope John Paul II).
  3. Have memorial services on the anniversary of your baby’s death, or attend a community or parish Mass that is offered for pregnancy and infant loss. Our babies are members of our family and it can be nice to remember them this way. If you have a grave site, visit it on the same day and encourage your other children, if any, to bring flowers to decorate the grave.
  4. Perform acts of charity in memory of your child(ren). Give money, volunteer, donate items. It helps keep the connection if these are things connected with babies or children, but they don’t have to be. As an example, the Lasting Hearts project is one that a bereaved mom worked on in California, gathering donations so that books could be given away to grieving parents at their doctors’ offices.
  5. Reach out to other other women and families who have suffered from the loss of a child. There are many ways to do this in your family, parish, or neighborhood. Families often feel isolated after a miscarriage, since it’s not frequently discussed in public. Be a friend to them, willing to listen. Hold hands, don’t walk away, and listen. Some other options are to bring a meal or two, have a Mass said for their family (you can do this by asking at your parish office), or treat them to a night away – anything that you felt helped you when you were in their shoes.

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