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When you experience the loss of a pregnancy or infant, life can turn into a fog and you can't see where to go next. We hosted Kristen Biehl of Amos' Anchors to get some tips on how to process and get through your loss. This website lists all of the resources and organizations that were created to support women who have experienced stillborn, infant loss, miscarriages and termination of a wanted pregnancy.
When you experience a loss of an infant or pregnancy, you may feel like something is wrong with you or you did something wrong. We are here to validate those feelings and let you know that you didn't do anything wrong.
There is not one way to grieve. Grief is a lifeline journey and is something that stays with us for a long time. In general, society wants us to move on and get past things, but we know that when you lose a baby, you miss that baby forever. There is a difference in grieving in a healthy way and grieving so much that you can't do normal things, like go to work or take care of yourself or family. Grieving is also never finished. It will stay with you in some capacity for the rest of your life. It ebbs and flows: some days are really heavy while others are not.
It's important that we break the silence. This is a topic that for hundreds of years, we didn't talk about it and just moved on. We know more about mental health now and how to grieve in a healthy way. Silence tends to breed alienation. It makes people feel alone, like they are broken and that they don't deserve the baby they lost. When you chose to speak up and share your pain, it opens the doors for others to share their story and helps normalize this topic. One in four people have had a miscarriage so it's more common than we think.
When you're living with grief, it's important to feel your emotions. It's really easy to fall into numbing traps where you are drinking or working too much so you don't have to focus on your reality. We all numb in some capacity, but you have to give yourself space to feel your feelings. It's okay to be sad, something horrible happened. It's okay to cry, scream and yell. Journaling or making personal voice recordings is a way to process your feelings and helps your move forward with your day. This can also mean seeing a therapist, talking to your spiritual leader or going to support groups.
It's important to recognize that your spouse or partner may not grieve the same way that you do. This can be really hard and feel alienating. This is completely normal and doesn't mean that they don't care. Research shows that men, in particularly, have grief hit them at the two or three year mark. It's also hard for them to feel the same way women do because they didn't feel what women felt in their body. As much as we want them to feel the same way, we have to give them space to feel it their own way and in their own time.
If you're looking for healthy ways to cope, you can visit Amos Anchors and find resources not only in Indianapolis, but global initiatives as well. Star Legacy Foundation provides free groups and resources for all different types of losses. Working with a therapist may have cost but there are ways to reduce the cost. In Indianapolis, there is a group called Indy Therapy and Counseling that has student psychologists who are available at a reduced cost. There are support groups through hospitals that are led by therapists for free. Julie Jackson, MSW, LCSW, runs the Memories to Hold pregnancy loss support group at St. Francis as well as their pregnancy after a loss support group.
You can also make space for your grief through memorials and events. St. Francis in Indianapolis runs events through the year, like the Walk to Remember. It's a nice way to set aside some time every year to remember your loss. They also have a mass cremation burial. If you have a loss at a hospital and don't want to cremate at a funeral home, the hospital will cremate your child's remains for you and bury the ashes altogether with other babies' ashes. They have a memorial garden where they add bricks that will list the babies' names. There is also the International Wave of Light that gives parents a chance to honor their babies alongside people from all over the world. Hannah's Wish also hosts support groups and supports parents through loss.
You deserve support! You may feel guilty over what happened - don't punish yourself. Don't withhold the support that you need to move forward in life. You may be a new person because loss does change you, but your story is not over.
See you live interview below.