When a child is lost to miscarriage


Miscarriages are devastating to families. In fact, most couples rate multiple miscarriages as more difficult than the death of a parent. A miscarriage is the wiping out of a whole beautiful future two expectant parents had planned for their child, and the hole that's left turns all that love into a profound sorrow and confusion.

Couples usually don't share miscarriages if they have not already told family they are expecting, and that's largely a wise idea, as it leads to endless repetition of the awful news. However, drawing on the support of a few close family members and friends can be critical in helping to fill the void left by the loss with meaning.

Therapy is not a bad idea, as miscarriages can result in serious psychological disturbance. In one case, a wife began to view sex in a negative light after two miscarriages. Suicidal ideation is not uncommon, and general hopelessness is nearly universal. The grief involved is often traumatic in nature because it presents a problem for resolution, a problem society offers few answers for, because what is needs to be grieved is often unclear. "How many weeks old is alive? Should we have a private memorial service? Is the name we decided on 'his name'? What does this mean for our religious beliefs?"

Traumatic grief is defined as grief that is "stuck." That means that the event cannot be put in the past, and thinking of it only gives more focus on the loss. Grief therapy can help families move on after a loss, but when grief is truly "stuck," trauma therapy is called for.

EMDR therapy has been research-proven to be as effective as the best grief therapies, but can go further in dealing specifically with traumatic grief. I believe that EMDR's advantage is in acknowledging that it is important to be sad, and that the objective of therapy is to enable the free expression of emotions so that grief can be productive in enshrining that little life in a special place in the past. Nothing can make a bad memory a good memory, but a memory does not have to be disturbing to be authentic and loving--in fact, the pain of an unresolved trauma is largely due to the struggle to gain some sort of resolution.

If you are one of the near-majority of families who has experienced a miscarriage, and you feel you are just not coping, give me a call.