Talk about your grief and how you feel with your partner. Talking to a caring family member or friend can also help you deal with your feelings. Some people close to you may not understand why you feel the way you do.
Surround yourself with supportive family and close friends. Let them know how they can support you emotionally like listening while you talk about your baby and your sadness. You need time to grieve, rest, heal physically, and to connect with loved ones. Your feelings and reactions are your own. They may not be the same as anyone else's and that's OK. You will need some time to work through your grief in your own way.
Friends and family will see and feel your grief. They may not know how to share their concern or support. They may try to reassure you but sometimes the words they use may not feel supportive. If they want to do something for you, it's OK to ask for what you want or need. Tell them how they can be helpful. Some examples of what you may want to ask for are:
Going back home after the death of your baby is often a very emotional time. It may make the loss of your hopes and dreams of a future with your baby more real.
For some families, taking the baby home for a short time is an important part of grieving. If you decide that this is right for you, your healthcare team will offer options and talk to you about safe travel with your baby.
When you're ready, you and your partner may wish to put away any baby things or furniture together, or as a family. It may be an important part of dealing with the loss for each of you. It's important to remember you don't have to rush to do this.
Remember that you may need time to rest. You may also need time to go back to the hospital or clinic for follow-up appointments. Talk with your doctor or healthcare provider if you:
- need help arranging for time off work
- need a note for employment insurance benefits
- have other responsibilities that may stop you from getting rest
- aren’t sure that you can get back to the hospital quickly if you need to
When to get help
It's hard to ask for help. Sometimes when you feel overwhelmed, sad, or just unable to enjoy the things you usually enjoy, it can lead to feeling isolated and possibly even depression. Talking to a professional (counselling) can help.
Some signs that you or your partner could benefit from counselling are if you:
- break into tears unexpectedly months after your loss
- don’t feel able to get out of bed or do things you normally enjoy
- sleep too much or too little
- feel numb or withdraw from your partner, family, or friends
- often work beyond your normal schedule
- drink more alcohol than usual or use other substances
- have extreme or sudden changes of behaviour
- continue to have physical symptoms like pain
- focus on events around the loss
- feel overwhelming anger or agitation
- spend excessively or gamble
I have days where I am okay, and other days where I completely unravel.
Amaya, Baby Jacob's mother
You and your partner may choose to get professional support like a grief counsellor or attend a support group. Many parents find that meeting with other parents who have been through a similar experience can be a meaningful and helpful way to cope with their own grief. Other parents in a support group will know and understand many of the feelings you have.
Some ways of coping with grief are less effective and can lead to more problems. Some of these less effective behaviours include:
- working too much
- using alcohol or substances
- spending more time away from your home or partner
- withdrawing from your partner
Try to be aware of and limit these behaviours. It will often take time to learn how to cope in better ways. Be patient with yourself and your partner.
Be aware of signs you or your partner may be experiencing relationship issues or depression. Common symptoms of depression include:
- significant lack of sleep
- issues with healthy eating
- strong expressions of guilt
- blaming yourself
- thoughts of suicide
Counselling and crisis support are available for you and your partner. Call Health Link at 811 if you need help or to find support services near you.
Options for support
You're not alone. Other families have gone through similar situations and understand your experiences and feelings. Often it can be very helpful to connect with another grieving family. You can do so by connecting with one or more of the following resources:
- pregnancy or infant loss grief counsellor
- peer support group or bereavement group
- memorial events
- events of remembrance
- private counselling
- couples counselling
- books, videos, or articles
- parent blogs