Grief produces both physical and emotional symptoms which are experienced differently by each individual. There are phases of grief that are common to all who pass through it. Understanding these feelings as a normal part of the grief experience can be of great help.
- Shock occurs initially as nature's way of cushioning the blow and may last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.
- It may be hard to control your emotions.
- You may have little or no appetite.
- You may feel totally exhausted yet unable to sleep, or you may find yourself sleeping all the time.
- You may withdraw from others and isolate yourself.
- You may find it hard to make decisions.
- You may feel a sense of panic.
- Things may not feel real.
- After the shock and numbness wear off, real grieving will begin.
Denial and Disorganization
- You understand intellectually what has happened but yet deny the baby's death.
- You may find you forget things easily.
- Uncontrollable crying is common.
- You may feel confused and have trouble making sense of things that are happening around you.
- You may experience a lack of motivation.
- Depression is a strong emotion at this time.
- You may experience overeating or a loss of appetite.
- You may lose interest in your appearance.
- You may withdraw from outside activities and family gatherings.
- You may feel this is just a dream and you will wake up any minute.
- You may feel that you are losing your mind, no longer have control of your life, and are very vulnerable.
- You may blame yourself for your baby's death.
- You may feel that God is punishing you for something you did in your past.
- You may feel a loss of self-esteem, like you are less of a woman or man.
- You may feel that you have disappointed your partner and family because you did not have a healthy, live baby.
- You may search for a reason for your baby's death, believing you can prevent it from happening again during a subsequent pregnancy. Sometimes these feelings are stronger when your doctor can find no reason for your baby's death.
- You may find yourself feeling angry with the physicians or nurses, your partner, or even your baby and God.
- You may feel restless and impatient.
- Anger is a normal emotion and it is important that you express your anger instead of holding it in.
- Feelings of anger at yourself may be experienced as guilt.
- Feelings of hopelessness may be pervasive.
- You may feel an intense loneliness and yearning for your baby.
- You may feel cheated.
- Physical symptoms may include fatigue, changes in appetite, and sleep difficulties.
- You may find it difficult to make the simplest decisions, you may lack motivation, and you may experience impaired judgement.
Reorganization and Acceptance
- The transition to acceptance is usually very gradual.
- Your judgment will improve and you will feel a sense of release, acceptance and peace.
- You will be able to enjoy yourself without feeling guilty.
- You will not forget your baby, but you and your family will be able to go on with your lives again. You will return to a new state of "normal" which will incorporate remembrances of the loss of your baby.