Grief over time
Pregnancy and baby loss has been taboo for so long it was just not been spoken about. It is not treated like the death of a person who people would have physically known and have memories of. When a baby dies during pregnancy or shortly after, there very few, if any, memories of that baby. The outside world cannot relate to that loss and may not know what to say or do.
People who have not experienced the loss may not realise that when you experience loss during pregnancy or shortly after birth you do not only grieve in those early days and weeks but you grieve for your entire life.
You grieve the first steps you have missed, first words, Christmas, Halloween, Easter, birthdays, family occasions, first day of school, first day of college. The “what if’s” and “could haves” for your baby that died is endless. At every family or social occasion that twinge of sadness hits. The gap is always felt and that never leaves.
Over time that deep pain from grief does ease, but like the sea, can rise up and overwhelm you at any time. It doesn’t always have to be on “trigger” days like anniversaries or significant dates. It may be driving down a certain road you did while you were pregnant with your baby, or walking past the baby clothes section, or hearing a song you sang to your bump during pregnancy, all these things can remind you of how happy and excited you were before you experienced the heartbreak of baby loss.
While we (Jen and Claire) were discussing our experiences of baby loss, I (Jen) remembered how when I returned to work I could not face driving the same route to work as I had while I was pregnant with Jess. Luckily as I live and work in Dublin, I could easily change my route. I also changed where I shopped; I avoided big shopping centres and places where I knew I would be faced with memories of my loss.
When Claire was faced with returning to work after her loss it proved too much and decided that it was too painful and difficult to return. Claire then resigned from her job, it was the right decision for her at that time, she focused on healing after her loss.
Thankfully time does ease the fear and pain of returning to the world after baby loss and over time I was able to return to these places, drive that old route to work, shop in the shops I had during my pregnancy and not feel that gut-wrenching sadness.
You need to protect yourself in the early weeks and months, your heart is broken, your body is hurt, and your mind is racing with grief. Take things slow, go gently, and take it one cup at a time.