There are 7 stages to the wheel of grief:
Shock and Denial, Pain and Guilt, Anger and Bargaining, Depression, Upward turn, Working Through and Acceptance and Hope.
It’s helpful to understand these stages and identify which stage you’re at when it comes to navigating your through the trauma of your loss.
The cycle is different for everyone and you may take longer to come out of a particular stage that others. You may also find that you slip back in and out of a particular stage. Don’t get too worried if this happens, each person is different and it’s at these times that you need to learn to be kind to yourself.
It can take around 2 years to complete the cycle. I remember thinking at times “I should be better by now” and getting frustrated. Having worked through the cycle myself, I can assure you you’ll get there.
Now that you’re aware that there’s 7 stages to grief, let’s talk through them:
Shock and Denial
You receive the bad news and immediately go into denial “this is a mistake”, “it can’t be happening to me”. You feel light-headed, nauseous and physically weak or numb.
Pain and Guilt
And then you feel it. Once the initial shock has passed, a tidal wave of pain hits you. The pain is usually accompanied by guilt and many women begin to ask themselves “What did I do wrong?” We think of all the things that we could’ve done to cause this; that glass of wine, those unhealthy foods or not taking our pregnancy supplements.
The guilt we place on ourselves is unmanageable and unfair. Guilt is a useless emotion which sucks our energy and brings us down. Remember, you’d never say to someone else what you say to yourself – so give yourself a break.
This is not your fault. Let me repeat that, this is not your fault. In all likelihood it happened for biological reasons; the cells didn’t form properly and the body rejected them.
Anger and Bargaining
Anger can be directed at yourself, a loved one, god or the universe. When this happens it’s usually misplaced. Then comes bargaining, we think “If I hadn’t have done x then this might not have happened”. We start to bargain with ourselves, and sometimes, subconsciously, we can be angry with our baby for dying. Again, this is a huge energy drain and can lead to depression.
Feeling depressed and low, like you can’t be bothered to do anything. Depression is physically and mentally draining.
As we work our way through the cycle of grief and come to terms with the different emotions we may feel, we begin to take an upward turn. Our low mood and apathy lifts and we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In our minds we start to work through what’s happened and reconcile with our thoughts and emotions.
Acceptance and Hope
We’re now in the final stage. We start to accept what has happened and begin to look to the future and find hope that we can try again, that life will get better and that the future looks brighter.
It Comes in Waves
The grief of losing a baby is intense because it’s part of you that is lost. An intimate part so deep, so personal and so raw. The grief can hit you in waves; sometimes you’re feeling perfectly fine, and then you’ll have a memory, a thought or hear music that sets you off crying again. What’s interesting, is that when it matters, we somehow manage to dig deep and find the strength to carry on.
To the rest of the world, what you’re going through is intangible and unfamiliar because they haven’t a notion of what you’re feeling or going through. At the end of the day, they’re not the who has encountered it and so they can’t relate to it. This is often why people can come across as flippant about your loss.
Know Your Journey
It’s important to identify how you’re feeling so you can identify and objectively say to yourself “I’m feeling like this today and that’s ok, this too shall pass.” Remember you have to go through it all until you come out the other side. It’s a process and time is a great healer.
Ultimately as humans, we’re programmed to be happy. Disconnecting is something we do to protect ourselves from feeling; but it’s a waste of our lives.
I urge you to feel the pain and let it pass. Simply, be aware of what you’re feeling and this in itself will enable you to heal much quicker.
“Everything in excess is opposed by nature”. Hippocrates