‘A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. There is no word for a parent who loses a child. That’s how awful the loss is.’- Ronald Regan
Losing a child either before birth or after is undoubtedly one of the hardest things a parent will ever endure. The overflow of heartbreaking emotions is unbearably hard. There are not enough words to describe the level of hurt a parent goes through during that trying time. Just like any other loss, it is a tragic experience we are yet to make sense of yet so many women in the world go through it.
Wanjiru Kihusa who runs the blog http://www.wanjirukihusa.com/ started the campaign #StillAMum two years ago. During our interview, she was able to share her experience having gone through 2 miscarriages. The campaign seeks to encourage people to support women who have lost children or are unable to conceive. To commemorate the Pregnancy and Infant Loss month, we seek to find out ways you can cope with miscarriages or loss of an infant.
Understand that you are not to blame
Being a parent is taking full responsibility for the safety of your child no matter what. It is therefore normal after a miscarriage or infant loss to feel that it is their fault. It is important to understand that it was not in your control. Talk it over with your spouse or friend. There is no right or wrong way to handle this. Share your emotions of guilt instead of bottling them inside.
Acknowledge the child
Whether your child was 5 months gestation or 1 year old, that baby meant the world to you. Accepting that the child was part of your life allows you to be able to grief them in an open manner. Holding a memorial or burial service for your child can be a step in recognizing the loss as reality. It also provides a chance for the friends and family to grief along with you. For some parents, doing things that remind them of their infant can also be comforting. Kathryn who had lost her son while he was still so young says she found comfort in washing the clothes he wore during his last days. Do what is best for you, your family and friends
Grief needs releasing, not repressing. Give yourself time to grief. Take some time off work if need be. You need to understand that grieving is a process that takes time. It helps you release all the millions of emotions that you are currently feeling. If possible, do not go through this alone.
Do not especially forget to reach out and accommodate the feelings of your spouse. According to Mark Keselica, one of the common myths is that miscarriages do not affect men. Men also grapple with the loss of a child just like the woman. Grieving with friends and family surrounds you with love so can also help deal with the pain a little easier.
During this time, it is important to reach out and talk to someone. Closing yourself out from the world for long periods may cause you to lapse into depression. Share your feelings with someone who cares. However, especially for people who feel like the outside world does not understand what they are going through, you can join a support group.
Worldwide, there are over 4.9 million deaths of children under the age of 1. These statistics are not meant to scare you but rather to affirm that you are not alone. There are many people going through the same pain you are going through. Sharing your experience and emotions with other people who have gone through the same offers a sense of comfort and understanding. Therapy is also a recommendable grief coping mechanism. A professional can help you go through the stages of grief and come out of it fine.