The path through grief after a pregnancy loss can be a pretty lonely one. We turn to our friends and family for support and then have no idea how to provide it.
Even your partner may struggle to relate to how you feel as his or her experience of loss is entirely different from yours.
In this episode, I’m going to teach you the one thing you need to do in order to feel supported instead of alone and misunderstood.
I’m going to share:
- Why some of your family and friends have not supported you the way you thought they would/should
- The different types of other support out there and why they’re not working
- Where to find all the support you need, any time you need it (hint: its where you least expect it)
- Stay with me through to the end, as I have a special free gift for you that you’ll find in the references at the bottom of this page
If you’ve recently experienced a pregnancy loss of any kind, it’s likely that you’re feeling alone and misunderstood by your friends and family who can’t relate to what you’re going through.
I’ve been there. After my first loss, I didn’t know of anyone who’d had a miscarriage. The doctors weren’t much help in pointing me in the direction of support.
Many of my friends and family actually knew that I had been pregnant. I was heading to a wedding with a bunch of my friends at an all inclusive resort. It was a week after I found out I was pregnant. So I had to tell them all.
And then I had to tell them all when I miscarried.
Yet, I felt so confused and alone when none of them had any clue what I was going through.
I wanted to be comforted. Nurtured. Taken care of. And what I got instead was silence from most of them. Or at most, “at least you know you can get pregnant”.
The reason we all feel unsupported is that we are looking for support in all the wrong places. When you think about it, why would anyone who hasn’t experienced a pregnancy loss know how to support someone while they go through it?
I feel the same way sometimes even when I complain to my husband about an issue I’m having at work. He doesn’t understand it, yet he doesn’t want to see me in pain, so he either tries to fix it, or he tells me to stop complaining.
It’s frustrating for both of us. All I want is someone to validate my feelings, and most people feel very uncomfortable doing that.
A couple of years ago, I found myself listening to a memoir written by Glennon Doyle called Love Warrior. And she said something profound about her own experience that epitomized mine:
“Most often, the listener makes the pain harder for me by trying to make it easier for her”.
That really resonated with me. It helped me understand my friends and family’s perspective. We have an innate desire to keep ourselves from feeling pain. It’s human nature to avoid pain. So it’s very difficult for our loved ones to simply sit with us and watch us in pain. So they try to feel less pain by trying to make ours go away.
Glennon goes on to describe 6 reactions to pain. And by the way, I will not do these justice so I really encourage you to read the book. It’s phenomenal.
There are 6 types of reaction to pain:
Shovers: this is the woman who says, “everything happens for a reason”, or “God has a plan’, or “it’s darkest before the dawn”.
She wants to shove your pain into a tidy pile. She needs you to move forward, to make progress. She needs to edit your story so it fits inside of her own good news story; that this will be a blessing and good things happen to good people.
Comparers: this is someone who nods while listening but then responds with her own story or someone else’s. She has a need to deflect pain. File it in some way. Compare it with someone else’s story.
You end up listening to story about someone else who went through the “same” thing. It makes you feel like you are just not that special.
Fixers: this is the role most husbands play. And likely others well. This is someone who says, “this is what you need to do.”. She’ll fix it for you. She believes that there are definitive ways of getting out of this. You simply haven’t followed the formula. This is someone who says, “just relax and you’ll get pregnant again”. “Or you need to do keep yourself busy” distract yourself. She’s giving you the answer.
Reporters: Reporters are curious about the details. They ask probing questions, sometimes inappropriate. This person is not receiving the story, she’s collecting it so she can retell it later. Passes along the story under the guise of “keep her in your prayers”. But this is someone who actually steals the story and uses it to entertain. This is likely the gossiper in your life.
Victims: this is someone who has heard the news second hand and is hurt that you didn’t tell her personally. Or she’s upset that you didn’t tell her first. She thought you were closer than that. Of course, there is no etiquette inside of grief, but this person doesn’t understand that.
God reps: this is someone who believes they know what God wants and feel led to share. I had one of these. She sent me a book about how God would suggest I handle my miscarriage. She had good intentions, but it didn’t help.
It’s important to know that I’m not repeating these reactions from Glennon’s book so that we all start judging our friends and family who use them. Because WE use them too, just in different scenarios.
Anyone who falls into one of these categories either hasn’t been taught how to support you (because she’s never received true support herself) or she doesn’t have the emotional capacity to sit with you in your pain (because she’s in too much pain of some sort herself).
I want to describe a seventh type of reaction. This is the Supporter. The true supporter. This is someone who simply sits with you in your pain. She listens, looks you in the eyes, gives you a hug. Offers to listen, not to talk. She doesn’t offer advice, or so called words of comfort. She simply listens.
To have a true supporter in your life is rare. But that’s okay, because you can get support ANY TIME you need it and you can get it in a place where you least expect it.
Do you know where? Have you guessed?
It’s from within yourself. You have everything you need within you to support yourself.
This is more than self-care. It’s truly listening to yourself. Allowing yourself to have quiet time, to feel and then release your own pain.
This is not about feeling sorry for yourself. It’s not about being a victim. It’s about feeling your emotion. Understanding it. Trusting that it’s there for a reason. And it’s one of the most counterintuitive things you can do for yourself.
Society tells us to avoid our pain. We have an innate desire to avoid our pain. We keep ourselves busy, we bury it, we try to avoid thinking about it. We try to numb it out with sedatives, alcohol, drugs or Netflix. Yet none of these will actually heal your pain.
The only thing that will is taking action. Feeling it and releasing it.
If you don’t release your emotions, your grief will resurface in some other form. Disguised as some other emotion – irritation, jealousy, anger. This could even happen over the remainder of your life.
I know women who had a pregnancy loss years ago and still have unresolved grief that is affecting their lives now, affecting their ability to feel joy fully and live a happy life.
I have two options for you at this point. You can keep operating as you have been, expecting to find comfort in your friends and family and never truly being supported. Or you can learn how to support and nurture yourself.
You may have heard me talk about my online program and I go deeper on this topic in that program, which I’m opening up again very soon. In the meantime, I have a special PDF download for you that has 5 ways to feel better in 5 minutes. Download it now!
References from this episode:
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle
Free PDF Download: 5 Ways to Feel Better in 5 Minutes