Today I’m sharing with you how I was doing one month after losing my baby. You can read about my daughter Rena in the first installment of my journey through infant loss here. During that first month of the mourning and healing process, I learned many things that helped me move through the fog of bereavement and began to see glimpses of light. I want you and your loved ones to find healing and peace as you navigate through your struggles. From my experience with infant loss I’m sharing 8 tips for healing through grief.
I’ve also included a free printable on these 8 tips for you to keep or to share with a loved one. You can find it here.
One Month After Infant Loss
Grieving, it’s like going to the dentist. You don’t want to do it, but it’s necessary for healthy teeth. The grief process requires you to sit in the chair, stare up at the blinding light, keep your mouth open even though it’s sore and feel the poking and prodding of tools on your gums and teeth, but in the end you come out with smooth clean teeth. My teeth are not smooth and clean yet. I am still sitting in the chair.
Losing a child is it’s own special kind of mourning. I’m mourning the loss over someone I never got to really know, yet I know her very well. I lost someone I didn’t have much time with, yet she feels like she is and always will be a part of me. I am grieving my daughter. I wish I didn’t have to, but it’s something that must be done.
When we lost Rena it was a horrible experience, yet along the way we could see God’s tender love and mercy on us the whole time. One month after infant loss He has not withdrawn His hand from us. Part of my mourning required replaying the actual events in my mind and being haunted by the images. Yet once those images were addressed I didn’t feel grotesque anymore, God gave me peace.
I reflected on my sins and broke down in shame and guilt, God gave me forgiveness. I went through the merry-go-round thoughts of “why,” “what if I did this,” “I should have done that,” God blessed me with the understanding of why things turned out the way they did. There are many reasons why but it all comes down to fact that God was and is glorified through this. All of these things bring me comfort and healing. God doesn’t stop there.
As I look upon my life now, my postpartum life, and dealing with things like milk coming in, losing baby weight and putting off plans of preparing for a new baby, God gave me the best healing gift of all, Himself. He has provided me with a wonderful bible study that deals with baby loss, but can be applied to any area of life as it talks about the saving power and love of Jesus.
I’m learning about how Jesus loves me, brings me peace, calms my fears, is my help and provides for me. God has woven His way into my life through family and friends. Countless times their helpful words were spoken at just the right time when I needed it most. My prayer time with Him is much more fruitful and meaningful and I know He hears me. His word is always there which leaves me with peace. I can always open up my bible and find healing words. Every time I am faced with the grimness of grief God is pointing me to keep my eye on Jesus, as that is the only way to find healing.
I know as time passes and I face other elements of grief God is healing me through the process. At the end of my dental appointment I will have clean smooth teeth. Like patients that need to go back every 6 months for regular check-ups, I know there will be times when mourning will slip in and I have to go back to God for teeth cleaning. My dentist doesn’t use pokers, scrapers or drills though but He does have a bright light. That light is Jesus.
Over the first month after infant loss these are some passages of scripture that I found healing.
I love you, Lord, my strength.
3 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
Psalm 18:28 “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”
Eight Tips For Healing Through Your Grief
Below are eight facets to the grieving process I learned about and experienced. A lot of other bereaved parents I spoke to or have read about have encountered some or all of these scenarios. Healing through grief is different for everyone. I’ve included some personal examples to illustrate the points a bit but again, this doesn’t mean you will have the exact same occurrences and that is okay.
1. Experience Your Feelings
Allow yourself to grieve and feel the feelings that come with it. This may mean sadness one moment or feeling lost the next. Grief is not pleasant but it’s better to allow yourself to go there than to avoid or suppress it. You may find a good crying session can be a healing release.
A couple of days after losing Rena I allowed my mind to go back to the night everything happened. It was overwhelming to relive the events but it helped me release my emotions and process what had happened as I let the tears flow.
2. There Are No Deadlines for Mourning
Grief does not have a deadline. You don’t need to pressure yourself to feel better by a certain time. In fact, it’s okay if you don’t “get over it.” I don’t think you really fully do. Grief ebbs and flows and there will be periods where you feel like you’re okay, and other days might be an unpredictable down period.
Over time the impact of the grief can lessen but it still creeps in. At first, I hoped to get back to normal after 1 month and pushed myself to feel better. Then I realized I was putting undue pressure on myself. I celebrated the days I felt good and accepted the days that were difficult.
3. Remember Your Baby
Being preoccupied with thoughts and memories of your baby can be very high in the first few days and weeks after losing your child. It’s okay to be consumed with thoughts of him or her as it allows you to feel bonded to your baby. If you have the desire to talk a lot about him or her don’t shy away from it. It can be healing to speak their name and share memories.
After losing my baby all I could think about was her and had this intense desire to go up to pregnant women and tell them I had been pregnant and shout Rena’s name from the rooftop. Of course, I didn’t do that instead I sought out my husband and friends who wanted to hear all about Rena and talked to them about her.
You may find the preoccupation can cloud your ability to make simple decisions or plan out your day. It’s okay to be slow to get moving or to know what you want or not want. It’s part of the process, just take your time.
I used to be good and getting myself up for the day and having a plan. After losing Rena it was difficult for me to decide what to eat for lunch or what to wear because I was so preoccupied thinking about her.
4. Dealing With Triggers
You may find triggers in the most unexpected things that may bring on a wave of grief. Simple things like being asked “how many kids do you have,” seeing a baby at the store, or hearing a song on the radio may spark sadness. Triggers are part of the bereaved parent’s world.
If you don’t know what to do at the moment give yourself the grace to excuse yourself from the situation. Have a person in mind you can call to talk about and process the trigger and come up with ways to cope if you encounter it again. If you are going into a situation that you know will be difficult for you it’s perfectly acceptable to avoid those situations when first starting out. Creating a cocoon around yourself is okay.
It took me a while to go to the baby section at Target to buy diapers for my other daughter. I had to have my husband get diapers. I elected not to socialize with others who were due with their babies at the same time I was supposed to be due. These actions may sound strange, but they are not, it was just part of taking care of myself.
5. Bond With Your Baby
Do things that help you feel close to your baby. Yes, you want more than anything to physically hold them. But bonding with your son or daughter is one way you can still feel their closeness. How do you do that? For some writing letters to your child can be healing. For others talking about your baby is helpful. Putting together a scrapbook, or a memory box are some other ideas. If you are not up for doing this though that’s okay.
We were given a memory box from the hospital and it took me several weeks to open it up. I loved talking about my baby though and talked about her all the time with my husband, mom, and best friend. I also journaled my feelings about her too.
6. Find Healing Activities
Focus on things that you find healing. It may be exercise, listening to music, talking to a trusted person, finding a support group with other bereaved parents, or reading books on the topic.
For me it was praying, reading my bible and devotionals on baby loss, figuring out what led to my pregnancy complications and making changes to prevent it from happening again, talking about Rena with my inner circle and praying for a rainbow baby.
7. Feeling Happy Might Be Strange But It’s Okay
Have faith that eventually you will feel better in a different way. At first you might feel guilty for feeling happy or laughing again. It’s okay to feel good, it doesn’t mean you are letting your baby go. Sometimes parents hold on to their grief because it helps them feel connected to their child. While grief and loss are a big influence on your relationship with your lost child, there are other ways to feel connected to him or her without holding onto the sadness.
I remember the first time I was laughing at something and stopped suddenly because I thought it was too soon for me to feel happy. Reminding myself of God’s purpose for Rena helped me feel my strong connection to her and helped me be okay with feeling happy.
8. Relationships Change
Grief can change or strain relationships. You may find people might shy away from you or don’t know what to say or do. People may say silly things that hurt you but they don’t mean it.
Even though we’re the ones dealing with grief I reminded myself to give them grace and overlook what people did or did not do. If I felt the need to avoid them I did it quietly. I didn’t have the time or energy to get worked up about it and didn’t want anger to consume me. I had enough to deal with I wasn’t going to get into it with others.
Grief over anything thing is difficult to deal with. Saying goodbye too soon can make mourning much more intense. I hope these tips can help you, even if it’s in the smallest way. Don’t forget to print off the free printable for a quick reference or helpful keepsake.
Because this type of heartache is a heavy topic and because I am also a mental health professional I urge you to seek the help of a counselor if you ever have thoughts of hurting yourself or others or if your loss is just too much to bear. You may feel alone but you are not. Yes the struggle of not being able to have the one thing you desire most, to hold your baby, is difficult beyond measure. There are people out there who want to help you.
My biggest help through my dark time was my alone time with God and knowing Rena was made perfect and was safe with Jesus in heaven. If you want to talk to me about that, or anything else about losing a baby I welcome the conversation.