After last week’s post on Infant Loss Awarenss month, we got a lot of questions, so we want to follow up with some more about this senstive topic. Joining us today is Dr. Cassidy Freitas, Ph.D. Dr. Cassidy is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She holds a regular mothers support group at her private practice in San Diego and can be found on Instagram @drcassidy.
Pregnancy and infant loss is undoubtedly one of the hardest journeys a parent will ever experience. There is a very strong chance that you know someone who has experienced pregnancy or infant loss. About 30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. While stillbirth occurs in less than 1 percent of pregnancies, this is still approximately 24,000 babies who are stillborn in the United States each year. Infant deaths within the first 24 hours of birth and SIDS are experienced annually by thousands of families. As with many parts of motherhood, we don’t all walk the same journey or face the same challenges. Even in loss, we can each experience it differently. It is all too common for these mothers to grieve in isolation.
To the mama who never got to meet her baby, bring her baby home, or watch her child grow, here is what I want you to know:
- You are not alone. While every experience is unique, there are others who know this type of loss and pain. Find a community or support system to literally or metaphorically hold your hand and walk this journey with you.
- Loss and grief is not something you “get over.” You move through grief as it evolves. It is common for triggers to elicit new grief reactions. Seeing other mothers, becoming pregnant again, important dates, all of these things can bring a new layer of the grieving experience. This is normal. If you find yourself having a difficult time functioning for a prolonged amount of time, it is possible that grief has shifted to depression and/or anxiety. These are different experiences, and in addition to natural support require professional care as well.
- Talk openly with your partner about both your experience and theirs, acknowledging that partners often experience this type of loss differently.
For the person who is trying to support someone through this loss, you don’t need to fix it. Often times, especially in this case, words can’t actually change anything. What can be healing is being there, continuously. Honor the child who was lost; speak their name if they were given one. Honor important dates like birthdays and due dates and loss dates. We often want to make the pain going away, but looking for the silver lining is rarely helpful. If you do think you maybe said the wrong thing, don’t let it shame you into withdrawing. It’s ok. Just keep showing up.
The following are some possible resources if you’ve experienced pregnancy or infant loss:
Thanks for joining us today Dr. Cassidy. I especially appreciated her tips on how to help friends who are struggling through loss. If you have experienced loss, what did friends say or do that helped you the most? Share in the comments.
Thanks for stopping by,
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC