Grieving Is a Process

As a parent, you'll never really "get over" the loss of your baby. But you will learn to live without his or her physical presence and, eventually, integrate your loss into your life's experience. That you've been changed by your baby's death is undeniable. Your "rules" and ways of interacting with the world will be different now. But the "changed you" also will be a lasting testament to your baby's existence.

What's important to know is that you can and will move through your grief to healing. Knowing and understanding that grieving is a process can help defuse feelings of powerlessness and provide some measure of consolation, hope and peace.

While grieving is a very individual experience, it also is a process that has a number of phases. The phases are not experienced by all the same way. They may overlap. You will move in and out of them and may go back to a phase or skip one entirely. There's no right or wrong way to grieve.

The phases of grief are described in a variety of ways. Basically, they include:

~Avoidance and disbelief. When a loss is so overwhelming, you may find it necessary, at first, to take time out to break it down into manageable pieces. Avoidance allows time to regroup, as it were, until you're ready to accept the loss into your lives.

~Pain. Healing comes through pain. You may experience this pain in the form of depression; physical illnesses, such as colds and flu; problems like forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating; anger at yourself, at your spouse, or God; or guilt. Feelings of guilt over things that occurred during the pregnancy can be a way of trying to find a reason for what's happened. It's important to remind yourself that these feelings are a natural part of the grieving process.

~Acceptance and adaptation. As you come to accept your baby's death and acknowledge that it has irrevocably changed you, your pain will ease. You'll integrate the memory of your baby into a meaningful place in your lives and hearts and be ready to move on with your lives toward a different future and a new dream.

Grief is a painful process. You may be bombarded by conflicting emotions and feel overwhelmed at times. Allowing yourselves to experience the pain is part of the healing process. Ignoring your feelings increases distress.