After my miscarriages, my whole world turned upside down. My heart, my mind and my body had changed—and I really didn’t know what my new normal looked like. In the midst of all the pain and unknowns, I knew I needed to take care of myself and create a safe place to grieve and heal. Self-care looks differently from one woman to the next. If you have recently experienced a miscarriage, or other loss, I encourage you to make yourself a priority and take the time you need to process and grieve. Here are 5 specific things that helped me tremendously, especially when the grief and pain were the heaviest:
1. Say No.
Allowing myself to say no to various get-togethers, dinners, parties, or playdates was freeing—especially the first initial weeks after my miscarriages when my body still hurt and my emotions were incredibly fragile. People were usually gracious and understanding when I canceled prior plans or declined invitations. However, even months after my losses (and one time an entire year after) there were times I needed to say no. Sometimes it was declining a baby shower when I knew it would be triggering. Sometimes it was a birthday celebration where I knew I would see people that I didn’t want to talk to about my losses. I had to be OK with saying no whether or not every person understood why I couldn’t jump back into “normal” life.
Social media became painful after my losses. At any given moment, I could run across pregnancy announcements, gender reveals or birth announcements. And they were too much for me to handle. It wasn’t that I was unhappy for my friends and family—I was so happy for them! But with each thrilling pregnancy announcement I was reminded of what I lost. I decided the best thing for my heart, was to unplug. For a time, that meant leaving social media all together. When I did return, I “unfollowed” certain people on my list. It was nothing personal—I loved each of these people. But it was better for my heart to text or email them, not see their daily pregnancy or baby pictures. Of course I couldn’t completely isolate myself from heartache, but I could create a buffer.
This one took vulnerability and courage but it was so worth it. Connecting with other women who understood what I was going through was comforting. I found these women in different places—my normal friend group, play groups, at church, and in online support groups (this is when social media can be a wonderful tool!). It was important for me to talk—talk about my losses, talk about my grief, talk through my confusion, pain and hope. It was amazing how quickly my “circle of support” grew just by talking about my loss. Other women needed that connection too. It wasn’t just about making conversation, it was about building community. I wasn’t alone. Together, we were a sisterhood.
4. Get Away.
A month after we experienced our first loss, my husband and I decided to go to the mountains for a few nights. We didn’t travel too far—just a couple hours away—but being outside of our everyday surroundings was so good for me. We turned off our phones, didn’t check emails or Facebook. We just…breathed. Once we got away, I realized how badly I had needed a change of scenery and space to think clearly. My home and my routine didn’t feel normal to me anymore, so taking time away gave us space to gain new perspective and figure out what our new life looked like. It allowed us uninterrupted time to process our loss, grieve together, and to reconnect.
5. Give Grace & Love.
There were moments I would have to stop whatever I was doing and just sit down to cry. Waves of sorrow would suddenly and unexpectedly crash over me. Some days I felt the sadness build up slowly, until it exploded. Other days, I would start sobbing out of nowhere. Instead of feeling like I needed to “hold myself together” all the time, I tried to allow myself to feel whatever needed to be felt—emptiness, anger, fear, sadness. Extending extra grace and love to myself was instrumental in my healing process.
Each woman’s grieving process and healing journey is different. But being intentional with your own self-care—no matter what that plan looks like—is an important part of life after loss. You are worth it!