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Accept the reality

November 14, 2012

In traditional parlance, this grief task is called ‘acceptance’. It’s the only one of the 5 tasks that has a similar name, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less revolutionary.

When you lose a baby, especially if it’s a miscarriage, you go through a period of numbness, a sense of unreality. This can’t be happening to me. I’m going to wake up and find this has all been a horrible dream. Over time though, you start to realise that this is your life now. This is the way things are always going to be. Your sweet angel isn’t coming back.

The length of time it takes for this to happen depends on a number of things. One of the things that falls into this task, that will really help to you come to this point of acceptance (as tough as that is) is to hold you baby after birth, if that’s at all possible.

Making that physical contact with your baby, washing and dressing him or her… it brings a measure of closure to the pregnancy. If you are fortunate enough to have time and access to hold your baby after birth it helps to speed up your acceptance of the reality.

In most countries, and still in many SA hospitals, there was a practice of not letting the mother (or father) see or hold her baby. While this was well-intentioned, it actually added to the pain and made the grief journey longer than it needed to be. If you are a regular on any of the international message boards you’ll no doubt have come across women in their later years who experienced this, and who can testify to how difficult it was.

This is not to say that holding your baby after birth will make your grief less painful. It just means you are more likely to be able to move through the grief journey more smoothly and slightly faster. Doing so is not disloyal to your baby in any way – your grief will last a lifetime! – it just means that you are able to become a functional member of society again in a shorter space of time.

What happens, though, for those who miscarry, or who are unable to hold their babies for some reason? Hope is not lost! If that’s you, talking about your baby, or writing about him/ her (or writing TO him/ her) is a helpful way of coming to terms with your loss. Don’t try to sweep it under the carpet – speak openly about your experiences. It may make others uncomfortable, yes, but only because they don’t know how to respond to you. (You will need to guide them in this – be as explicit as you can: I need you to sit here and listen to me talk about my baby. I don’t need you to say anything. Just listen and then give me a hug.)

Sometimes, reaching that place of acceptance feels like the opening of a yawning valley that slides down into the darkness. Sometimes, acceptance feels like the beginning of the end – why carry on when my baby is dead? But remember – acceptance is just the first grief task of five! You still have another 4 tasks to work through, and we’ll discuss the next one in the next post.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. masterzan permalink
    November 21, 2012 6:07 pm

    Awesome post and its exactly right.

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