Throughout our lives we experience the loss of loved ones and friends. But there is no greater, and more painful loss, than that of a child. Regardless of what age that child was, the loss is profound. And so dealing with a miscarriage can be one of the most painful experiences women (and their partners’) experience.

If you recently experienced a miscarriage, you are most likely feeling more sadness and grief than you ever thought possible. While your body may be healed, your heart and mind can take a while to catch up. It’s important to allow yourself some time to grieve and feel all your emotions. And you will, at times, feel a roller coaster of emotions ranging from disbelief and anger to guilt, sadness, depression, and numbness.

You may also experience physical symptoms as a result of the emotional stress. These symptoms can include fatigue, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, and frequent episodes of crying. The hormonal changes women go through after a miscarriage may intensify the symptoms.

Dealing with a miscarriage – what to expect

There are three main stages of grief when dealing with a miscarriage

Stage 1 – shock/denial

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The first part of dealing with a miscarriage is getting over the shock and moving past the denial. This is not easy.

You simply can’t believe the loss has happened. It shouldn’t have happened. You read all the books and took great care of yourself and your body. You did everything right. Why is this happening?

Stage 2 – Anger/guilt/depression

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The symptoms associated with dealing with a miscarriage resembles grieving the lost of a loved one.

Thoughts and feelings of shame and inadequacy can take over your life. Maybe you begin to study every detail of the pregnancy over and over to figure out what went wrong. You may feel guilty that you weren’t able to give your partner husband a child, your child a sibling, or your parents a grandchild. The sadness can be overwhelming, and in the beginning it might feel like you can barely function.

Stage 3 – Acceptance

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Acceptance is tricky when dealing with a miscarriage. Just when you think you’ve achieved it, life has a way of making you think otherwise.

You recognize that you are not alone, and that many other couples have experienced a miscarriage. You also begin to remember the other responsibilities in your life, perhaps you have other children who need more of your attention, and you work to accept what happened and move on with your life as best you can.

It’s important to understand that each stage of the grieving process will take longer to go through than the one before. And there will also be setbacks. You may think you have finally accepted the loss, and then you go out to visit friends and they announce they’re pregnant – suddenly you’re in the bathroom crying.

Be aware that men and women grieve differently. Women are usually more expressive about their loss, whereas men like to be proactive. By nature, men are problem-solvers – not weepers (generally speaking of course!). Understand that your husband or partner is grieving, even if you don’t recognize or understand the way he grieves.

You both need to be sensitive and respectful of each other’s needs and feelings during this time. Accept that you both have different coping styles and make damn sure to keep the lines of communication open.

Life is short. Dealing with a miscarriage isn’t. It’s important to seek help. This could be from a loved one who’s been there, or an awesome therapist or life coach you like and trust who can guide you through the grieving process and give you tools to help you cope with your emotions now and in the future.

James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.