It takes some emotional guts to navigate through grief, regardless of what caused it. It takes courage to face all that sadness, anger, disappointment, frustration, blame. And it can take time before you’re ready to truly face and release those feelings.
Our first tendency is to avoid. To distract ourselves from the pain. To push it down where we can’t see it anymore. Some people never allow their pain to come to the surface where it can be released. Others just need time before they’re ready.
Regardless, that pain, all that emotion will eek out in other ways if you don’t release it. You might not recognize it. Instead of sadness, it shows up as irritation at your co-workers. Instead of emptiness, it’s frustration with your husband for not filling the void. Instead of hopelessness, it’s anger at your friend for announcing her pregnancy a few weeks after your failed IVF.
I get it. I’ve been there. I avoided the pain. Until I found the tools that really helped me feel better. I validated these in a miscarriage support group and gained some additional insight from all of them too.
Here are 10 things you can do to feel better emotionally after a loss:
1. Nurture yourself: I hear so often that women feel alone and unsupported through a miscarriage or infertility journey. How do you support yourself? Give yourself the kind of self-care your body and spirit truly need. Is it a day in bed? A really healthy salad for lunch? A massage? A yoga retreat? Give yourself permission to treat your body and spirit with whatever it is that you need the most.
2. Memorialize your loss: there is a reason we have funerals for our loved ones. It helps us to honour their memory, to feel closure. Do something to memorialize your lost baby. Bury the ultrasound or a blanket you already purchased for the baby. Have a ceremony.
Even if you haven’t had a physical loss, each period can feel like one. If you’re experiencing infertility or have had a failed IVF or IUI, you can have a ceremony with each period. Cleanse yourself physically and ceremoniously in preparation for your next cycle. Honour the lost opportunity, the lost hope for the future you desire.
3. Listen to music: you probably already have experience with this one. From the time we’re kids, we dance to upbeat songs and we cry over lost boyfriends at the sound of a sad, slow ballad. You can change your mood very quickly with music. You may not feel like putting on a pop hit when you’re really down, but choose something even just a little hopeful, a little uplifting. Notice how it changes your mood.
4. Do something creative: it doesn’t really matter what creative act you choose. It can be knitting or cooking, painting or dancing. Doing something creative is expressive. You are able to release emotions through your art.
5. Write about your feelings: get out your journal and face your emotions head-on. Write about what made you feel good in a given day. What made you feel bad. What made you angry, sad, irritated, unsupported, misunderstood. Getting it all out on the paper can be so liberating.
6. Talk about it: many women avoid talking about their experiences with miscarriage or infertility. It’s “hard”. Think about why it might be hard. Is it because you’re afraid of crying in front of someone? Or maybe because it might be awkward? Are you afraid of what the other person might think or how they might react? Is it because you have to be vulnerable? Most of these reasons focus on how the other person might feel or what they might think of you and your situation. If you are able to drop that and talk about your feelings unapologetically, it can bring so much relief. Especially if you choose the right listening ear.
7. Don’t be afraid to cry: don’t hold back and please don’t let anyone make you think you should. Let it all go. Crying is a form of release. Let all those emotions out.
8. Try essential oils: honestly, this is one that surprised me. When the brand I love introduced a set of oil blends for emotional support, I used one in particular right away to release some anger I was feeling and it worked immediately.
doTERRA has a blend called Console Comforting blend and it is like a bouquet of flowers in a bottle. But it’s way more than a lovely scent. There is a chemical shift in your brain when molecules of oil are inhaled and enter the bloodstream. Oils like Patchouli, Rose and Ylang Ylang bring on feelings of hope and ward off sadness and grief. Buy it undiluted, or in a 10 ml diluted roller top bottle here.
9. Get a pet: we got a puppy about 6 months after my first miscarriage. At the time, I didn’t really think of doing it as something to make me feel better. But I realize now that it did make me feel better and many other women in the miscarriage support group agreed.
Here’s what I believe happens: first, pets fulfill a craving to care for something outside of ourselves. Our need to nurture, to mother. Second, pets allow us to feel the kind of love one might feel for their own child (I checked this one with my friend who has both a child and a dog!). Third, pets provide us with a community. When you feel left out of the motherhood community, the dog park is an amazing sub-in!
10. Find support: you may have some very supportive friends and family who make you feel good. Many women don’t have someone in their circle who knows how to provide that support. If you are someone who doesn’t, find it elsewhere. Join my private Facebook group, or choose another online group. Search for an in-person group for pregnancy and infant loss if you’d rather meet people in person. Find a therapist if you need deeper support.
I would be remiss if i didn’t also introduce you to my program for releasing the emotional pain of miscarriage. It incorporates some of the tools on this list – writing, essential oils and self-care – into a six week online program that you can do in the comfort of your home. This program will provide you with the ultimate emotional relief after a loss. Click here to find out more.
And now, share in the comments, what one thing has helped you feel better after your loss?
This is not an exhaustive list. I am sure there are other things that have helped many of you out there to feel better. I would love it if you shared in the comments!