Healing Child Loss
Healing Child Loss
February 8, 1993
COUPLES WHO HAVE LOST THEIR CHILD IN CHILD BIRTH, MISCARRIAGE OR ABORTION UNDERGO PHYSICAL AND MENTAL TRAUMA. PRACTISING YOGA, KEEPING BUSY, INDULGING IN A FAVOURITE PASTIME, ARE A FEW WAYS THAT CAN HELP ONE GET OVER THE GRIEF OF LOSING A BAB
Sadly, one-third of women who conceive may be affected by childbearing loss
Some women might miscarry. These women often wonder what actually happened and whether they caused it in some way. On the other hand, they may lose faith in their physical body, experience a feeling of failure or shame, or have problems with relationships within the family. The husband’s understanding and support are crucial at this time. Abortion, another type of pregnancy loss is sometimes resorted to due to medical or personal reasons. Either way, grief results. A woman loses her vision of motherhood, or feels angry about her male partner being physically unaffected and about implications on her relationship with her man.
If a married woman undergoes abortion voluntarily due to economic reasons, she will experience some unease, because no culture or religion approves of abortion. She may even face unanticipated grief. The healing process may begin immediately after an abortion. Perhaps the first thing to do is to stop judging. Shame, guilt and humiliation that have been harbored for years, may surface at this time. Forgiveness and acceptance of one’s destiny will bring peace, e.g. if a child dies at some abnormality, it is better to reason that such an abnormality would have crippled the child for life.
Most parents of stillborn children are at a loss as to whether to hold, see or touch the baby. The healing process is faster in parents who touch or hold the baby.
Another problem that must be overcome is guilt. Some parents become guilty or wary of any form of pleasure or happiness. They consider it as an act of disloyalty to the lost child. They feel guilty of rapid forgetfulness and remain tense. It is important to relax and let feelings flow naturally without worrying about what is right or wrong.
It is said that the breath appears to be the pulse of the mind. It is therefore not uncommon for grieving couples to alter their breathing rhythms, to occasionally sigh deeply or take gulps or air. As our emotions affect our breath, in the same way we can reshape our emotions by altering our breath. Yoga has a very effective alternate nostril breathing that helps control emotions. Also, mental chanting of a ‘mantra’ or a prayer might help.
When grieving, common feelings experienced are exhaustion, loss of interest in sex, insomnia, illness, etc. People who are grieving often find it difficult to get up and do things. This inactivity leads to fatigue. According to Dr. Lawrence Friedman, “Inadequate muscle activity can produce fatigue as real as fatigue from excessive labour. Inactivity results in inadequate circulation, a poor exchange of nutrients and waste products in the tissues and a weaker heartbeat – and then greater fatigue.”
It is therefore important for grieving persons to exercise. Exercise stimulates the circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems, producing an “alive” feeling and helping to overcome exhaustion.
For a person bogged down with grief, getting up to exercise is a difficult task. It helps if before getting up one visualizes oneself getting up and exercising or walking.
Imagine the fast breathing and muscle stretch accompanying physical exertion. Once you actually start exercising or walking, the time can also be used as a time to be by yourself and think. It is important to keep busy and not spend hours just lying down and grieving. As a woman lies down, she can also visualize herself actually doing what she enjoys doing. If she is fond of designing clothes, she can imagine various patterns, down to the minutest detail. If she is fond of painting, she can imagine herself actually painting, think of what she would like to paint, what colours she would use, whether she would do it on paper or on canvas. Or a woman can imagine how she would like to redecorate her home. The next step is to actually get up and do it, and get back to the business of living.
At bed time unplug the telephone and listen to calm, relaxing music. Do not think of your loss at bed time.
The loss of the baby may hold you back from sex, since you may be subconsciously connecting sex with the baby. Don’t force yourself, but do reach out and hold each other in grief. The ensuing tenderness will bring you together again.
Couples who have suffered a childbirth loss are known to suffer from colds (unshed tears) or sore throats (unspoken words). It is important for them to talk about their grief and shed tears. Colds and sore throats, common physical symptoms of grief, often disappear.
This is specially important for men, who might hold back tears, fearing it is, unmanly to cry. It is better to express and release grief than bottle up.
Through the mist of grief, couples often forget the importance of good nutrition. Many grieving women are found to be anemic, as a result of poor diet or blood loss associated with pregnancy loss or both. An anemic condition puts a woman at greater risk during subsequent pregnancies, increasing chances of another loss, and compounding grief, ill health and despair.
It is important for every grieving woman to make an effort, all by herself, to pull herself out of the quagmire of grief and self pity that often go together, so that she is not considered forever grieving and hence not taken seriously by any one ever again.
Natural Childbirth Center
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