How To Survive a Miscarriage

How To Survive a Miscarriage

5 Tips For Coping With A Miscarriage

Although 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, there is surprisingly little recognition of the devastating grief that often follows in its wake. Sadly, poor communication by medical staff and insensitive comments from well-meaning friends and family are common, while real emotional support is rare.

After experiencing a devastating miscarriage herself and finding little in the way of support, grief counsellor Karin Holmes wrote -How to survive a miscarriage' to help other women in a similar situation.

How to survive a miscarriage addresses the emotional and physical implications of pregnancies lost before the 20th week. It guides grieving mothers through the dark times of loss towards purposeful and gentle healing with strategies for coping with sadness and guilt, suggestions for rituals, and advice on getting through subsequent pregnancies. It also addresses the physical causes and types of miscarriage, and includes a section for friends, family and partners.

After experiencing a devastating miscarriage herself and finding little in the way of support, grief counsellor Karin Holmes wrote -How to survive a miscarriage' to help other women in a similar situation.

Grief Counsellor and author of How To Survive a Miscarriage shares her expert tips:

Pick a Ritual
A miscarriage is a complicated loss. We have lost someone we love so much but have never met. It leaves a special void in our hearts and souls. There are often not many memories to hold on to and to find comfort in. Therefore, it is very important to find a ritual to remember this little life and to create memories. Miscarriage is often not considered a -real' loss, which is highly inappropriate and plain wrong. It is a real loss. So we are more than entitled to pick a ritual to honour our little ones. This can be lighting a candle on their due date, plant a tree or create a garden or make a scrapbook to reflect your journey and emotions. The one rule to follow is – do what feels right for you.

Self Care
After a miscarriage, many women experience many conflicting emotions. It is not only the question -why me?' or -why my baby?' that plagues us but also disappointment, anger and maybe even disgust at our own bodies for having failed us. While these thoughts and emotions are normal, it is important to keep them in check. We did nothing wrong. Self care is absolutely crucial after a loss like miscarriage. We have been through a traumatic experience, often unnoticed by the outside world, and we deserve a break. So go and have a spa day, get a massage, buy something nice for yourself. You deserve it. Beating ourselves up over our loss will only take us so far. Instead, to begin the healing journey, we need to focus on ourselves and recognise that we deserve to look after ourselves and do so in a way that suits us.

Give it Time
Just like any other loss, a miscarriage needs time. Time to process, time to heal, time to remember. There is the expectation that women have to just -get over it' but that is nonsense. Take all the time you need to grieve, to be sad, to be upset and to heal. You lost your baby! Grief knows no time limit. Know that it is ok to take as long as you need to feel better.

Miscarriage is first and foremost on many occasions a very lonely experience. We were pregnant one day and the next we are not. If we are lucky, we have supportive family around us. If not, we lose our babies and no one cares. Therefore, it is very, very important to connect with the right people – fellow sufferers who understand what you are going through. They will listen and support you and give you strength to face the outside world again.

Say Their Names
This might feel weird to start with but it is so important to do. We might not have a -proper' name like Harry or Lisa for our babies because often we didn't even know the sex of our baby. That is ok though. Many of us have nicknames for our little ones, like peanut or little bean or baby XX. Keep referring to your baby that way. Don't say -it' and don't let anyone tell you different. It was a real baby and a real loss. To give them a name that is right for you makes only sense.

How To Survive a Miscarriage

White Light Publishing
Author: Karin Holmes
RRP: $18.99

Interview with Karin Holmes

Question: How can we support a couple who have experienced a miscarriage?

Karin Holmes: The best support anyone can give to a couple who suffered a miscarriage is to be there for them. This might sound simple but it's not. Give them a hug and say -I'm so sorry'. Don't look for a lot to say as words will only fail you at this stage. Action speak louder than words. Sit with them, cry with them, bring something cooked and make sure they eat something. Are there older children that need to be dropped off at school? If yes, get cracking.

For the woman, make sure she is comfortable, has a hot water bottle if she needs one or a warm blanket and a nice cup of tea to drink. Give them room too, though to grieve. Leave them be but make sure you check in with them in a few days time.

For the dads/partners, make an effort to ask how they are doing. Often, they get overlooked and are left to deal with their grief on their own. This is their loss, too. Listen to them if they want to talk or take them out somewhere to get a break before they go back and support their partner again.

Question: What type of phrases should we say and which do we need to avoid?

Karin Holmes: As mentioned, actions often speak louder than words after a miscarriage. If you don't know what to say, then say -I'm so sorry, I don't know what to say'. This is honest and the grieving couple will appreciate it. What IS there to say? Not an awful lot after such a loss and you acknowledge that by simply saying -I'm sorry'.

Definitely DON'T say -It's very common' or -you can have another' or -it wasn't meant to be' or -it was probably for the best'. These sentences might be well meant but they only hurt. They belittle the pain and grief and make the couple suffering a miscarriage feel alone and misunderstood. To them, their baby died and the last thing they need is someone telling them that this loss is not a big deal. It IS a big deal and we all need to acknowledge that. Again, saying -I am sorry for your loss' will help way more than anything else.

Question: Who did you write this book, for?

Karin Holmes: I wrote this book for everyone. I wrote it for any couple who lost a baby to miscarriage and are feeling alone, upset and unsure how to grieve such a loss. That is how I felt and it was such a lonely place to be. I wanted to make sure no one else has to feel that way and I do hope that my book can reach those who need support and guidance through their loss and grief. I also wrote the book for anyone who wants to support someone who suffered a miscarriage. Some of the things I heard were horrendous. Well meant but awful nonetheless. I dedicated entire chapters of the book to people who want to help but don't know how. Words hurt so much and I wanted to do my part to try and educate people on how to behave around those who grieve a complex loss like a miscarriage.

I also recommend the book highly to any healthcare professional as a lot of miscarriage survivors told me how they were treated at hospital and elsewhere. Communication between doctors and patients in the case of miscarriage has a lot of potential to improve. I want them to know that there are a few simple things they can do that will mean a lot to the couple suffering but won't take a lot out of the doctor's day to do.

Question:   Why did you write the book? Do you have a personal story or bio that you could write in first person?

Karin Holmes: I started writing my book -How to survive a miscarriage – a guide for women, their partners, friends and families' after I lost my very first pregnancy in 2011 to a missed miscarriage.

The pregnancy was a surprise to my husband and I and I had very conflicting emotions about it. I was excited and worried at the same time. Were we ready for a baby? Could we do this? Before I could make up my mind, the decision was made fore me. One day, about six weeks into my pregnancy, I started bleeding and cramping. I rushed home from work and went to ER. I was pleading with my baby to please stay with me. But it wasn't meant to be. After two harrowing weeks of waiting, blood tests and ultrasound, my husband and I heard the words no expecting parent wants to hear -I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat.'

I had to go back to hospital to have a D&C (dilation & curettage) to remove my baby from my womb.

After that, I fell into a deep, black hole. My world just had been turned upside down. I lost someone so dear to me but I never got the chance to meet. I fell into a deep depression, trying to make sense of it all but couldn't. To make things worse – no one cared. I tried and reach out to people but was met with silence and disinterest. The loneliness in my darkest hour was suffocating.

I couldn't believe that no one other than my husband and I cared about this baby we lost. It first upset me, and then angered me. This wasn't right!

As a trained journalist, I turned to writing to make sense of my emotions. Piece by piece and word-by-word my book came together. I wrote it to try and help other women in a similar situation and to tell them they are not alone. I want to put an end to the silence around pregnancy loss – no matter at what stage a baby was lost. The loneliness and disinterest I felt, I want to make sure no one else has to feel. I hope my book can provide guidance and healing to others in their grief and struggle after a loss like mine.

Because I didn't support I wished for, it was very important to me to also include chapters in my book containing advice for people trying to comfort a miscarriagesurvivor. It can be hard to find the right words and I address these issues as well in my book. It hasn't only been written with women suffering such a devastating loss but for those around her as well.

Interview by Brooke Hunter


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