How to help your children through a pregnancy loss may not be the first thing on your mind when you are trying to navigate the waters of pain yourself. Pregnancy loss affects the whole family and it can have a profound impact on your other children.
I remember like it was yesterday the feelings I had after my miscarriage a few years ago. I was so numb inside and I felt like I was walking around in a cloud for so long. I could see the pain that my living children were experiencing and it was difficult to comfort them when I was needing comfort myself!
Although it has been almost 4 years ago…my children have not forgotten our lost baby. They still bring the baby up from time to time and ask questions about “what if”….
How to Help Your Children Through a Pregnancy Loss
Reassure Your Children
It can be scary for a child of any age to see their mother sad, upset or sick. When we found out that our baby had no heartbeat it was still a few days before I had a D&C. During this time I was in pain physically and extremely emotional. Our oldest child was a freshman in high school and I could tell he was really distressed because there was nothing he could do to help his mom in that situation. He had never seen me cry so much.
It can scare a child when the person that is their rock seems to be crumbling before their eyes! This is the time to reassure your child that even though you are very sad right now, you still love them and that eventually things will return to a more normal state.
Talk About the Loss
I can say that this one is not easy for me. I didn't really want to talk about my loss. I still don't want to talk about it…it is painful and I still cry…like right now…typing this! BUT…some people process grief better by talking it out! My girls both needed to talk about our loss…it was healing for them. I had to push down my own desire for silence and allow them to work it out through words!
I think it can be very harmful for a child if you refuse to talk about what happened. They are created to be curious and they probably don't know much about what “miscarriage” or “pregnancy loss” even means. You need to really explain what happened on a level that they can understand! When children understand what happened it help with their own healing!
Memorialize Your Lost Baby
My children needed something tangible to help with their grief. A pregnancy loss is hard because in most cases there is no funeral and no closure. There are some things you can do to memorialize your lost baby that may help your children with their grief!
One thing that we did was frame the sonogram picture and both of my girls wanted one in their rooms. They still have those pictures sitting out and I expect they always will. I also put a very small frame with the sonogram picture and the words, “always in our hearts” in the kitchen. It was important to me that this lost child not be forgotten by our family. The kitchen is a gathering place and it seemed like a good spot for remembering.
Some other ideas to memorialize your lost child are:
- plant a tree for that child together as a family
- buy a personalized stone to put in your garden or yard
- get a personalized pendant for a necklace or bracelet
- get personalized artwork of your sonogram from UltrasoundArtwork
- get a personalized wind chime so that every time you hear it you remember your baby
Refer if Needed
I was blessed to only have endured one pregnancy loss. I know so many women who have suffered multiple losses. This can make it very hard to be there emotionally for your living children. Multiple losses may also be having a significant impact on your living children. They may need to talk to a counselor that specializes in working with children who are dealing with grief. Be open to getting your living kids the help they need! It may do your children a world of good to be able to open up to a counselor about how they are feeling. So many times our kids don't want to burden us with their pain especially if they know we are already hurting!!
Try to spend extra time with your kids. Love on them….hug them….tell them how much they mean to you and that this loss doesn't change how you feel about them! Realize that you may need to give them some grace as they deal with their own feelings of loss and grief…they make act out or withdraw! Just being there for them will help. You may also want to enlist the help of grandparents or other adults who can step in when you aren't emotionally able.
Distractions aren't Always a Bad Thing
Some people may see distractions as a bad thing…like trying to avoid the pain. I don't totally agree. We were able to do some special things with our kids the month after our loss. It was therapeutic to do some fun family activities. It is healthy to get your mind off the grief. Try to come up with some things you can do together that will serve as a way to bond as a family and take your minds off your loss for a little while.
I think that when we are in the midst of our own sorrow…we forget that children have to process and deal with the situation too! It is so important to remember your living children even while you are dealing with the loss of an unmet child. I hope these tips for how to help your children through a pregnancy loss will be an encouragement for your family!
If you want to read more about my personal loss you can read my story HERE.