DISCLAIMER: The following post outlines the writer’s personal experience with miscarriage. It is not intended to act as medical advice. As always, please consult your doctor with any questions about pregnancy loss and mental health.
When I went through my late miscarriage in November of 2022, I made a conscious decision to give myself space and time to grieve, time to heal. I’m not sure where that nudge to do so came from, but I did.
We hold ourselves to impeccably unrealistic standards all the time, even when we’re going through our lowest lows, and I didn’t want to do that this time. I’d done that before; I think it’s safe to say we all have. But this simply felt too big to ignore. The grief from my miscarriage was all-consuming and unpredictable, and I knew I couldn’t just “suck it up” and “power through.”
So in an oddly self-aware move, I gave myself permission to grieve in my own way, on my own time. I sort of set my mind aside, and let my heart, soul, and body guide me through the grieving process. If I needed to cry, I cried. I listened to those around me when encouraged to reach out to other women. I was straightforward with my husband when I was having a particularly hard day, which was often preceded by a breakdown over the printer being out of paper.
Grieving Out Loud
My daily routine and rituals were a little all over the place for a while. I had a mocha every morning for three months. To many nutritionists’ potential dismay, if I didn’t feel like eating a green, I didn’t. I ate puppy chow and consumed more sugar than my body was used to.
My days were sometimes punctuated with nutritious meals, but I’ll be honest–I was not a poster child for someone who ate well during that time. I sometimes ate more than I should have. I sometimes ate less.
The night before we buried our baby girl, Gemma, I laid in bed and cried for three hours. I surrendered to the wave of grief and let my body process what had happened. But the next day, the night we buried her, my husband and I went out to the Christmas tree lighting in downtown Detroit. I put on heels, I laughed, I smiled, and we spent more money on dinner than we usually would have.
My dog brought me profound comfort, and even as it got cold, I made an effort to walk her. I deemed my walks “Walks with Gemma.” Sometimes I’d listen to a podcast or music, but other times I’d walk in silence and take in the sun and crisp air on my face and allow myself to think of what might have been.
I let the rhythm of my grief guide me.
After a while, I slowly came out of this. I started craving my usual salads and felt it was time to graduate from my sugar-heavy coffee indulgences to my usual, simpler coffee order. And as I was coming out of this, I felt taken care of. It’s like I had given myself a three-month-long hug while being supported by those closest to me.
I’m not advocating for picking up “bad habits” or eating unhealthily or dodging responsibilities to lay in bed all day and watch Friends reruns. But during this time of grief after my miscarriage, I realized it was my soul, my spirit, and my heart that needed the most tender, loving care. I ate what felt comforting, and wore what felt comforting. I watched what felt comforting.
Those three months following my miscarriage were not about bettering myself, seeing how many vegetables I could incorporate into each meal, and getting back into my pre-pregnancy jeans. Those months were for allowing space for all that I was feeling and nurturing my way through it, and I noticed as my spirit and heart began to feel better, my mind and body followed.
Leaning Into the Grief
I know not everyone has the ability to focus on themselves, even when the circumstances demand you to. I’m not sure what I would have done if my husband and I went through this when we were living in California without any family or close friends nearby. We were lucky in that my in-laws happened to have a previously planned visit for that time, and my village was able to swoop in and care for our kids for a few days while I was in the hospital.
No matter what circumstances surround the grief, it is of the utmost importance that we acknowledge, lean into, and accept our grief for what it is. That we say to ourselves, “I went through something hard, and I’m going to allow myself to feel all the complicated feelings. I’m allowing myself space to treat myself during this time. I will give myself the grace to pursue what I feel it is that will bring healing and comfort.”
I also know by doing this that the grief doesn’t disappear. There’s no time limit on grieving. It’ll linger. It’ll come in waves. I experienced this in a big way on our Gemma’s due date, and I’m sure I’ll experience it again in November on the one-year anniversary of delivering her. Intentionally giving myself that time is what enabled me to find a way to coexist with my grief, move around it, and move forward in a healthier and clear-headed manner.
Moving forward, when hit with some seemingly insurmountable tragedy, I’ll be giving myself a Grief Grace Period. If I feel my body urging me to do so, I’ll intentionally set a similar timeframe for myself.
Gemma may not be here and delivering her lifeless body was one of the hardest things I’ve gone through, but I’ve learned so much. Gemma left me with lessons, discoveries, and, believe it or not, gifts. Not being afraid to give me what I need, is one of those gifts.