What is Grief?
Grief is the flipside of love, which is why it is so painful. Babyloss is against the natural order of things, resulting in an intense grief for the loss of your child and the loss of the life you had planned. We are so sorry that this happened to you. Please know that you are not alone. We hope that the resources on this website can provide you with some comfort.
Grief, Bereavement and Mourning
Grief, bereavement and mourning are the combined reaction to losing someone that you love, but they all have slightly different meanings. Bereavement and mourning are part of grief.
Grief is the normal intense bereft sorrow we feel when someone we love dies. With babyloss your grief will never fully go away, but it will feel different and less intense over time. There is no time limit for grief, and you may find that the grief becomes reignited during anniversaries, mother’s day, father’s day or if there are any unexpected triggers. This is normal.
Bereavement is the period of mourning after a loss. It is the very intense state of grief after the loss of your baby. Usually this period lasts between one and two years. Please know that you will not always feel like this. Your love for your baby will never ever change, the intense sorrow around their loss will never go away but it will become more manageable.
Mourning is the outward expression of grief, it is the way you express emotions, and also the way that you celebrate the love you have for your child. There is no right or wrong way to mourn, nor is it any one else’s business. Mourning helps us to remember and take control of your loss by expressing your love for your child.
Grief and babyloss
Babyloss is nuanced and complex. You are mourning the loss of a child that never got the opportunity to develop their likes and interests. You are not just grieving their loss, but the loss of the things you will never experience with them and the life you had planned. There are so many different, sad and exhausting aspects to babyloss that differ from the death of an adult.
Babyloss affects everyone differently. Men and women often grieve and mourn in different ways. Many people view grief as a period of intense crying. Yes, crying is involved, but grief is more complex and is never just one emotion. Your heart is broken and you need to give yourself time, patience and kindness to help it to heal.
There is no right way to grieve. It is very personal. No one can tell you how you should grieve or how long you should grieve for. If people do, perhaps tell them how you feel and spend time with others that will just let you be.
How grief can feel
Grief can feel like drowning in a freezing sea at midnight. It can be overwhelming and frightening, but is always changing, along with the feelings that go with it. You may feel that there are weeks where you feel like you are being lashed by waves everytime you try to get your head above water. You may then start seeing lights on the shore.
In time the sea calms a bit more and the sky gets lighter. In time, you may even start to feel your feet can feel the sand below.
At some point you will be able to stand up in the water, whilst seeing people on the beach. Then another wave hits and you are swept along the shore. But eventually you can feel your feet on the ground.
Different waves will come along at different times and that is normal. You may even get onto the beach and sit on a chair in the sun. Others may even be sat by you. Your feet will always be a bit wet, and in time you will learn to live with that.
Grief has no time limit. It may feel like you want to just not feel awful as quickly as possible. What you have experienced is one of the worst things that can ever happen to someone. Give yourself the time and space to feel what you need to feel.
Stages of grief
You may have heard of the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These are not linear stages that you will neatly go though, you may experience some but not others, feel some again and again or feel them all at once.
Grief is more like an upwards spiral than a staircase, you will often feel the same emotion, with different intensities. Sometimes you may feel like you are taking some steps back, but overall, you are taking steps up. You will not always feel like this.
Symptoms of grief
In the first six weeks it is likely you will experience physical exhaustion, with emotional exhaustion lifting a bit by month three.
Memory loss and concentration
At times you may feel like you are going mad, but memory loss is very common, often made worse by headaches, and, although it can be frightening, is nothing to be alarmed about.
You may have difficulty concentrating, have a loss of appetite, poor sleep etc.
At points you may feel numb, experience pure despair and an intense sadness. This is natural. You may find that you have more accidents around the home during this time.
Guilt is a common reaction to babyloss. Guilt can feel like a prison. Please know that nothing you said, did, ate, read caused you to lose your baby. You are not to blame, it was not your fault. Please let people look after you treat yourself kindly as you would treat a friend.
Anger – this could be at the hospital, at the world, at other people for saying well meaning but silly things, at yourself. Feeling life is meaningless, that life is unjust and good people have bad things happen to them, at wanting answers and having none.
It is perfectly natural to feel angry about what happened, it is a feeling and will pass. Talk to someone about how you feel. Take time to breathe and respond to people that may upset you, calmly. Journal your feelings. Get your anger out in a way that feels good for you but that does not impact other people.
Depression – Grief and depression are two very different things. They can have similar symptoms such as poor sleep, lack of appetite and feeling intensely sad. The sting of grief lessens over time, whereas depression does not.
Depression is an illness that can be treated, whereas grief subsides over time. If your feelings do not change in the first few months, or if you are unsure if what you are feeling is grief or depression, please go to your GP.
The feelings above can come and go, and return during anniversaries or if you feel triggered. They can feel a bit overwhelming, but this is completely natural.
Other manifestations of grief
Body pains - Grief can manifest itself in many ways including through your body. What happened to you is traumatic. You could have numbness (arm numbness/aching is very common with babyloss mothers). You may have migraines and headaches, or pain or tingling sensations. These can also be signs of trauma, which we go into in more detail here.
Babyloss changes us forever. While grief is what you think and feel after a loss, mourning is the active expression of grief. Mourning allows us to heal as we are getting that pain out and transforming it into something that helps us remember our child.
You have so much love for your baby, and it is heartbreaking that you have no physical child to pour that love for them into. Mourning gives us a space to transform that love into actions for your child.
Remembering your baby
Below are the different ways that parents remember their child. You will think of your own celebrations and rituals to connect and remember them
Create a memory box. This could contain items you may want to keep forever but not necessarily have out. What items would you put in your memory box?
Have a space in your home or garden that memorialises your baby. This could be special plants, photos in a nice frame etc. What kind of space could you create to remember and connect with your baby?
Some parents have an animal or symbol that they associate with their baby. Do you have an animal or symbol for your baby? How do you think you could dot this around your house or carry with you?
Wear special jewellery so that you can feel instantly connected when you look or feel it
Have 15 minutes each day where you can be by yourself to just think about your baby, and how you feel
Do something for a babyloss charity
Journal. We have more information regarding journaling in our app
Take the memory of your baby with you when you go to places you wish they could have been with you. For example writing their name in the sand at the beach, or carving their name on a tree in a forest.
Have a special meal or party in memory of your baby. This could be on significant dates
This does not happen to everyone. Once the initial shock of grief wears off and you start to adjust to life, you may find that, at some point, usually when you are alone with no one to interrupt the flow of emotion, you start to wail and cry uncontrollably . That kind of crying where there is no air left in your lungs and you cannot stop crying if you wanted to. The sounds you produce may sound primal. This is known as keening. It is completely natural.
Look after yourself
Grief, bereavement and mourning are exhausting. It is important that you look after yourself during this time.
We have more information on wellbeing here.