Healing the Grief
Healing the Grief

Tasks of Mourning

Psychologist Worden (2018) identified that there are four tasks which need to be addressed in the process of mourning:

  • Accept the reality of the loss
    The bereaved parents will gradually accept the reality that the baby is dead through taking part in different procedures or ceremonies (for example, farewell with the child, application of various funeral documents, attending ceremonies, etc.) They will also wish to know the reasons of the pregnancy loss so that they will ask the healthcare staffs or keep searching for information. Sometimes, they will blame themselves for the loss. In fact, many of the miscarriages happened without any reasons, or even if there is one, it is not controllable by the parents.
  • Process the pain of the grief
    The bereaved parents will have different emotions and express in the ways which they feel comfortable with. They need to develop a way to cope with the grief so that their emotions and pressure can be relieved.
  • Adjust to a world without the deceased
    The bereaved parents will resume to daily life routines gradually. They may also develop a new outlook on life, value, sense of identity and lifestyles.
  • Find a way to remember the deceased while embarking on the rest of one’s journey through life
    Getting used to the life after miscarriage does not mean the bereaved parents will forget their deceased child. They have already reserved a place in their hearts to keep the good memories so that they can live a good life with the love to their child.

Coping with Grief

Accept your emotions and learn to live with the grief.
  • You don’t need to suppress or block your feelings
  • Try to express or relieve the emotions in a way that you feel comfortable.(For example, crying, exercising, art making, or journaling, etc.)
Beware of your automatic thoughts
  • Some of the irrational thoughts will result in unnecessary pressure, which becomes the obstacles in the grieving process.
  • Be aware of the self-doubt or self-blaming that aroused in the grieving process.( E.g.: Miscarriage happened to me so I am a woman of failure)
  • Try to ask yourself when you are calm: “Is my thought reasonable?” and re-examine the authenticity of your thoughts in views of rational thinking and evidence-based information.
Increase the daily relaxation exercises
  • Your emotions can be calmed more easily if you are in a physically relaxed condition.
  • Please click here for the exercises on body, mind and spirit. Link
Resume to normal life
  • The daily life routines of some of the bereaved parents may be greatly affected in the early stage of bereavement. They may feel powerless even in the basic daily life operations.
  • Starting from the basic and allowing yourself to have enough time and space, you will be able to resume to your original life conditions step by step.
Talk to your families and friends
  • Talk to someone you trust so as to let them know what they can do to help you getting through this difficult period
  • If you feel difficult to communicate with your family or partner, you can seek professional’s help, join peer groups.
  • Or you may register to be our member so as to know more ways of coping with your grief and making of the Our Family Album.

Remembering Your Baby

“Our love persists even if our child is no longer with us.”

- Michelle Maros (Still Mothers)

Making of memorial items or holding commemorative ceremonies after the child’s leaving can help the bereaved parents to get through the grieving period. There is no standard on the items used and ceremonies held. Parents can choose whatever ways that they think it is meaningful according to their wish. The important thing is, the bonding between the parents and the baby will not disappear and their roles as “father” and “mother” will not be changed either, even if the child is no longer here. This bonding makes it possible for the parents to live their lives together with their child in another way. There are different ways to remember your baby, and below are some references:

  • Naming your child
  • Memorial events
  • Creating special places, spaces and rituals (there is a lantern page for you to express the love and blessings to your beloved child, please click here)
  • Memorial trees
  • Artistic endeavours and expression (e.g. write a song/ poem, crafting, album making, sharing a blog, etc)
  • Make a donation in the name of your child

Informing the Bad News

Tell Families and Friends

Many bereaved parents find it difficult to inform their family/friends about the loss of their baby. Some parents may choose to disclose only the necessary information (e.g., "I had a miscarriage") or share information they would like others to know (e.g., "I don't want to go into too much detail, we will be fine. No worries, just be with us as usual.")

The message does not have to be very detailed, you can choose to share what you feel comfortable with. If certain amount of people need to be notified, and you don't want to do the conversation one by one, you might want to consider SMS or email as an option.

If you find it hard to do so, you can ask a trusted family member or friend to relay the news on your behalf. This will avoid the stress of repeating the bad news and enable you to have enough space and time to mourn.

Before announcing the news to your families or friends, you could try to think about:

  • What I would like them to know?
  • How would the news be edited (e.g. by text, voice message, videos, or pictures)?
  • To whom I wish to tell?
  • Can I do my own, or should I ask someone to help?
  • Is there anyone within my social network that I trust and can also help me to relay the message?

Reference: Lothrop, H. (1997). A Time of Search and Yearning. In Help, Comfort, and Hope: After Losing your Baby in Pregnancy or the First Year.

Telling Your Children

Children at different ages have different understandings of death. When communicating information about death to children, you will need to considering their age, developmental stage and needs. Below are some of points for thought before you are telling the bad news to your child:

  • Provide accurate information and state what happened and the outcome in simple and clear terms according to the child's level of understanding. For example: "Mommy want to talk to you about your little brother. You know that he has been growing in mommy's belly, right? But recently the doctor examined the baby brother again and found that he has no heartbeat, which means that the he stops growing up and will not be strong enough to leave mother's belly and live on his own. You little brother died, do you know what is death?"
  • Directly talk about "death" and take this chance to help children understand it’s meaning (e.g., "All living things, including animals, plants, and human being will die someday").
  • Avoid using euphemisms, as this often creates worry for the child (e.g., "You little brother went somewhere far away" may cause the child to worry that other people around him or her will also disappear for travelling far away).
  • Open discussion, allowing children to ask questions and express their emotions.
  • Make it clear that the child has done nothing wrong to cause the death of the baby.
  • Plan or conduct memorial activities with your child.
  • You can show sadness and model emotional expression so that your child's feeling of sadness can be normalised. It is also important to respect different feelings from them.
  • Read picture books about life and death education with your child (click here for a list of Booklist for Pregnancy Loss and Self Healing)
  • Maintain a regular lifestyle
  • Be aware of your child's emotional changes and seek professional support if needed.

Reference: Childhood Grief: Guidelines for Caregivers. Therapist Aid.

Relief in a Non Verbal Way - Body, Mind and Spirit Exercise

Sometimes, it may be difficult for you to verbalize grief of your loss. According to the Meridian Theory, the griefs and the complicated emotions that are left unprocessed, will affect the bereaved persons’ circulation of qi and blood, which results in physical or psychological disorder. Through various exercises for body, mind and spirit, the energy flow of can be improved. The physical and psychological health can then be resumed gradually without verbal expressions.

Please click here for the exercises for body, mind and spirit. Link

Booklist for Pregnancy Loss and Self Healing

The followings are the books related with healing after grief and life and death education

Books on healing after grief:

  1. 《Help, comfort, & Hope – After Losing Your Baby in Pregnancy or the First Year》
  2. 《Small Miracles》
  3. 《Healing your grieving heart after stillbirth:100 practice ideas for parents and family 》

Picture books for children:

For aged 2 or above

  1. 《The snowman》

For aged 6 or above with paired reading by parents or teachers

  1. Romeo (Pimm van Hest and Nynke Talsma, 2013)
  2. The Scar ( Charlotte Moundlic and Olivier Tallec, 2011)

  3. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages ( Leo Buscaglia, 1982)

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