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Dealing with grief

  • Everyone grieves in his own way. It’s OK to feel like you do.
  • Your grief may feel overwhelming. Ask for help if you need it.
  • Take as much time as you need to grieve.
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Dealing with your grief

It's important for you and your partner to take good care of yourselves as you grieve. Here are some things you can do:

Take care of your body

  • Eat healthy food. Eat fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and pastas, and low-fat chicken and meats. Stay away from junk food, fast food and too many sweets.
  • Do something active every day. Go for a walk. Get outside for a while.
  • Try to stick to your regular schedule. Get up and go to bed at your usual times.
  • Stay away from alcohol (beer, wine, wine coolers and liquor) and caffeine (in coffee, tea, soda and chocolate). These can make you feel bad and make it hard for you to sleep. Instead, drink water or juice.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking is bad for you and your partner. Secondhand smoke (smoke from someone else's cigarettes) is harmful, too.
  • Remember that a woman's body needs time to get back to normal after pregnancy. If a woman was far along in her pregnancy, she may have some bleeding, and her breasts may have milk. If these things are happening to you or your partner, talk to your health care provider. Your doctor, a nurse, midwife, nurse practitioner or other trained medical professional can answer your questions about what's happening.

Share your feelings

  • Talk about your baby and your feelings about your loss with your partner, family and friends.
  • Talk to your health care provider. Ask her to help you find a grief counselor. This is a person with special training to help people deal with their grief. Sometimes it's helpful to talk to someone other than your family and friends.
  • Talk to your religious or spiritual leader. Your spiritual beliefs may be a comfort to you during this time. Go to your place of worship, such as a church, synagogue or mosque. Even your funeral home may offer support for grieving families.
  • Think about having a memorial service to remember your baby. Your hospital may have a service each year that you can go to.
  • Join a support group. A support group is a group of people who have the same kind of concerns. They meet to share their feelings and try to help each other. Ask your provider to help you find a support group of other parents who have lost a baby. These parents understand what you're going through. They can help you feel like you're not alone.
  • Read books and poems or listen to music that you like and find comforting.
  • Write your thoughts and feelings in a journal. You can even write letters or poems to your baby. Tell your baby how you feel and how much you miss her.
  • Make an album or memory box for keepsakes of your baby, like photos, a hospital bracelet or a blanket. Take time before making any changes
  • You may already have baby things, like clothes, blankets and furniture. Leave them where they are until you feel ready to put them away.
  • Try not to make big changes in your life (like moving to a new place or taking a new job) right after your baby dies. Wait a few months before you make changes like these. Give yourself time to grieve the loss of your baby.

Ask for help

  • Ask your friends and family for help. Tell them exactly what they can do for you. Ask them to help with childcare, go grocery shopping, make meals or just spend time with you.
  • Ask the hospital social worker for help dealing with medical, insurance and funeral bills.
  • Ask your provider for help if you think you’re depressed.

Everyone feels sad and blue sometimes. These feelings may be stronger after the death of a baby. If your feelings of sadness are really strong, last for a long time and prevent you from leading your normal life, you may need treatment for depression. Here are some signs of depression:

  • Having little interest in your usual activities or hobbies
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Thinking about suicide or death

Tell your provider if you think you have any of the signs of depression. There are things you and your provider can do to help you feel better.

Order bereavement materials

Order our resources for grieving families, including the booklet From Hurt to Healing.

 

Most common questions

How do you know if you’re clinically depressed?

Some grieving parents may show signs of depression. This is a medical condition in which a person has strong feelings of sadness that last for a long time. If you’re depressed, you may need special treatment from a health care provider.

Some signs that you may be depressed include:

  • Having little interest in usual activities or hobbies
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Thinking about suicide or death

If you think you may have depression, talk to your health care provider. Your provider can help treat your depression.

How long does grief last?

There’s no right amount of time to grieve. It takes as long as it takes. You may feel better in a few weeks or months. Or it may take longer. If you feel like your grief is lasting longer than it should, talk to your health care provider.

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