After suffering the loss of a baby, it is hard to know how or where to reach out for support. The overwhelming feelings of loneliness, pain and grief can feel insurmountable. I know I felt frozen at times - not knowing how I would ever function in the world again. While the initial days are a complete blur, the support from others and tools I learned in the weeks and months after helped me move through the grief on my own terms.
Finding support whether through individual therapy, group therapy or connecting with other women who have been through a similar experience can help tremendously. Every woman's story and needs may be different, but their understanding of what you have been through is the same.
I have compiled a list of what helped in the initial weeks/months following the loss of our daughter.
1. Surround yourself with family/friends that you can be yourself around. My husband and I found it too difficult to be alone with our thoughts and needed our families to be around constantly in the first few weeks. Surround yourself with friends/family that will allow you to be yourself; whether you need to cry/scream/laugh or be completely silent they will be there without judgement. Do not put yourself in situations where you will need to pretend you are okay. You should be allowed to grieve and do not need to accommodate others feelings during this time.
2. Accept Offers for Meals. Even if you are not up for seeing visitors, ask them to leave it at the door or have a family member pick up the meal. The days are long and the thought of making a meal is impossible in the beginning.
3. Write in a Journal. This may not be for everyone, but I would write things down when I felt the need to get my emotions out, but could not explain them out loud. I never re-read some of these entries, but found it therapeutic to get my thoughts on paper.
4. Find someone who has also been through this. Immediately following our loss I was able to text with several women through connections of friends that had been through a stillbirth. It was helpful to validate my feelings without the need to explain and hear their stories of how they coped and went on to have healthy children.
5. It's Ok That You're Not Ok. I read this book the first week after losing our daughter and found it incredibly helpful. We live in a society that prefers you move on quickly from a loss, but this book explains why that is not healthy or normal. Allow yourself to grieve on your own timeline. People are not going to know what to say and will often say the wrong thing. This book explains how often this happens and that it is easier for them if you act okay and together after a loss. This book validated my feelings that it was OK and in fact normal to grieve and not to feel forced to act or behave a certain way.
6. Keep Moving . Whether this is going for a walk with a friend or family member that can listen to you or going for a drive and listening to music. I found a change in scenery and any type of movement would help when I was feeling stuck or frozen.
7. Have a Family Member put away Baby things. This may be different for every person, but I found it painful to see or be around the things we bought for our baby's arrival. My sister put away all of the baby's things before we got back from the hospital. I was relieved to not have to do this myself and have constant reminders around the house right after our loss.
8. Find a Therapist that Specializes in Grief. My husband did a lot of research on finding the right therapist for us afterwards. We spoke with a few and found a woman who had a lot of experience dealing with grief therapy. This was essential in helping us through so many difficulties in the beginning and she still is a significant resource for us today.
Star Legacy Foundation:
Stillbirth research and education nonprofit includes support for expectant mothers who have suffered stillbirth or other infant loss.
Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance
PLIDA’s mission is to promote the highest quality of consistent evidence-based perinatal bereavement care for all families who experience the death of a baby. We express this mission through professional continuing education, the establishment of Position Statements and practice guidelines, unified responses to issues in the media or legislation, and by creating a network for professionals to share questions, resources, insight, and support.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation
NILMDTS offers the gift of healing, hope and honor to parents experiencing the death of a baby through the overwhelming power of remembrance portraits. Professional-level photographers volunteer their time to conduct an intimate portrait session, capturing the only moments parents spend with their babies. Parents are gifted with delicately retouched heirloom black and white portraits free of charge.
Return to Zero
RTZ is the nonprofit organization that developed organically as a result of the film's positive impact. It is a community of bereaved families and their health providers who are transforming the culture of pregnancy and infant loss through awareness, education, and support.