I have been thinking a lot about the grieving process. Specifically for women and couples who have lost a child.
I have read countless articles on the topic. Through this research I came across some statistics that left me wondering how I can support women going through this process.
It is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in a miscarriage (one of the most common occurrences in pregnancy)
A lack of knowledge, particularly for those who had not had a miscarriage before, resulted in them feeling shocked by the physical process and anxious about what was happening to their bodies
for many women miscarriage was a lonely and isolating experience
this loss is often not acknowledged by the community because there are no rituals that can be performed, this is often referred to as a “silent event” or an “invisible death”
Care following a miscarriage has been described as one of the most neglected areas in the training of health professionals.
It is surprising to me that despite the frequency with which miscarriage occurs it has only been in the last 10–15 years that research has begun to identify and explore the consequences of early pregnancy loss.
So, what does someone like me who has never experienced this type of loss do with this information?
How do we support women in our community who are going through this “silent event?”
How do we take this very common silent loss and transform it into something that creates meaning and is acknowledged?
As a women’s health advocate I have been exploring the various techniques available that have been shown to help in difficult emotional situations. One technique to explore is the use of guided imagery.
Guided imagery used in a clinical setting is a 3 step process:
1—developing self-awareness of both behaviors and internal events (e.g., stressful thoughts increasing your heart rate).
2—new, adaptive thoughts (images) are introduced to replace the distressing ones.
3—the person is encouraged to generalize the newly learned thoughts and behaviors outside of the clinical setting, in real-life situations.
Regardless of what techniques have been shown to be helpful, each experience is different and each response to grief varies. As a friend, partner, or relative, helping her find a way to memorialize the baby may help her cope with the loss. In addition, respectfully asking if the baby has a name, offering to help around the house, bringing her meals, going for walks, spending time with her and listening to her. Above all, letting her find her own way of grieving and respecting her process.