Julie Watts, Clinical Psychologist

Intense emotional reactions are common in the first few weeks following a bereavement and can include shock, disbelief, crying, anger, guilt, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest in activities and social contact. Everyone varies in how they grieve. Many people may want to talk a lot about their feelings and others may want to grieve more privately. For most people the frequency and intensity of these symptoms will decrease within a couple of months however, it can be a prolonged process.

Helpful ways to manage this difficult time can include: normalising and allowing yourself the time and space to feel the whole range of emotions without feeling you are weak or should be over it, seeking support from family or friends who can listen empathically and non-judgmentally, try to take care of your diet and exercise and not use alcohol or drugs to “numb” the pain. Gradually try to resume some activities and see friends, try not to avoid reminders of the loss as it will delay the reactions and also try to remember positive memories of the person who has died. These memories will inevitably also bring emotional pain associated with what you have lost. Remember pain is normal when we lose someone who has been an important person in our life.

Pregnancy loss through miscarriage or stillbirth can be a particularly difficult experience, as others may find it harder to understand you grieving the loss of a baby you did not know. For many not knowing why it happened can be very difficult. For others they may feel anger towards others that it occurred or they may blame themself. For some people the loss may have happened before they had told others they were pregnant. This does not mean that the grief will be any less, as the experience of loss is not simply a function of the stage of pregnancy. Remember that your hopes and dreams for this baby and the new family you were creating started even before conception. Allow yourself time to come to terms with the loss and it may be important to do something symbolic especially if there is no funeral.