Encouragement and Support During Grief

by Lisa Church
Adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun

The stress and emotions of miscarriage and grief can take its toll. Check out these practical tips and advice:

If you are having trouble sleeping try these suggestions:

  • Avoid caffeine or reduce your intake of coffee, colas, tea and even chocolate.
  • Stick to a routine. Get up and go to bed at the same time every day.
  • Read a book before bedtime. If a novel keeps you up, find a boring book.
  • Be sure the room temperature is comfortable-not too hot or too cold.
  • Stick to quiet activities the last hour before bed.
  • Avoid heavy meals before bed that can disrupt sleep.
  • Turn off radios, TV, etc. The noise can affect the quality of your sleep.
  • Exercise for 20-30 minutes at least 4 hours before bedtime. Be sure not to exercise close to bedtime -- your body will still be "hyped up."
  • Drink warm milk -- yes it really does work. Plain milk is a natural sedative.
  • Take a warm shower or relaxing bath before bed.
  • Try deep breathing and relaxation techniques while lying in bed.
  • Visualize a quiet and peaceful place.
  • Avoid alcohol and sleeping pills. These are only temporary fixes that can lead to dependency and other issues later on.

Practical Exercise Tips

At a time when your energy levels are down it can be difficult to think about exercise. However, routine physical activity promotes better health, increases fitness and causes the body to function better. It also cleanses the body, energizes you and relieves stress. Exercise not only reduces stress hormones, it also triggers the release of hormones that cause a feeling of well-being.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program. Inform your physician about what is happening in your life and ensure that your health is closely monitored.
  • Realize that your reaction time and coordination may be reduced during grief.
  • Find an exercise you like! It does not have to be a typical exercise -- dancing, swaying to music, gardening, yard work and even household chores can be great physical activities for your body.
  • Set aside time to exercise regularly.
  • Turn routine tasks or errands into exercise. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the store or park far away from the entrance.
  • If the weather is nice, enjoy the outdoors. Fresh air and sunshine are great for lifting your spirits. Taking a walk down the street, jogging through the park, or running on the beach can be a great way to exercise and feel better.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Having contact with another person is a physical need during grief that can be overlooked. Touching, hugging and holding another person is both comforting and healing. Here are some great ways to connect with others:

  • Hold hands with your spouse or a close friend.
  • Hug and play with children.
  • Cuddle pets.
  • Get a massage.
  • Have a manicure or pedicure.
  • Have your hair washed and styled at a salon.
  • Hugs. When you need a hug ask for one!

Conquering Depression

Sadness, hopelessness and depression can be one of the hardest parts of grief. Getting through this critical time is difficult, but it can actually make way for healing. Here are some suggestions when you are coping with depression:

  • Resist the temptation to be alone! Do not cut yourself off from others. You need them now more than ever.
  • Connect with the ones you love. Feeling love and support from family members, friends, your spouse and God can help.
  • Pray and meditate. Read positive books, articles, and quotations.
  • Stay busy. Discovering a new hobby, taking a class, or volunteering and helping others can keep you from slipping into inactivity. They also keep your mind off of your grief.
  • Return to work. If you have not already done so, returning to a productive and structured workday can help to alleviate depression. This safe environment can provide friendly support as well as a feeling or returning to "normal." Day-to-day tasks will also distract your mind from grief.
  • Keep a journal. Writing down feelings that are too difficult to speak into words can be both cleansing and healing.
  • Stay away from excesses such as alcohol , excessive eating, illegal drugs , overworking, or promiscuity. These things are only temporary escapes and they can be harmful to your physical and emotional well-being.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help! If you have several symptoms that persist for several weeks, get professional help immediately. There are treatments and medications that can help. If you experience any suicidal thoughts call 911 immediately.
  • Remember that better days are coming. When you are facing the very heart of grief, try your best to focus on moving toward your future.

Steps for Resolving Anger

Anger can be a difficult emotion to handle. Here are some steps you can take if you are feeling angry:

  • Write a letter to the person you feel angry with: yourself, your baby, your spouse, a family member, or even God.
  • Talk to a close friend or professional about the anger you are feeling.
  • Find a healthy outlet for your anger such as punching a pillow, intense exercise, yelling or screaming aloud (not at another person) or even running around the block as fast as you can.
  • Help another person. Use your restless energy to clean someone's house, mow a lawn or fix a meal for someone in need. Focusing on others is a great way to take your mind off your pain.
  • Cry. Many women (and even men) release their anger through tears.
  • Confront the source of your anger. If you are angry with a spouse or family member have an honest discussion during a time when you are NOT feeling angry. If needed, ask a close friend or professional to help.
  • If you are angry with God or your baby, face an empty chair and have a "confrontation," expressing your anger.

Lisa Church suffered a miscarriage during her first pregnancy, and the experience changed her life. After three months of planning and loving her unborn baby, her hopes for a family abruptly ended. She was astounded to learn that four of her closest friends had also endured pregnancy loss, and each of them had carried this burden in silence. Learning that nearly 1 million couples each year suffer miscarriage in the U.S. alone, Lisa decided to do something. She shares her experience, along with her four friends, in the book Hope is Like the Sun. The book focuses on the real feelings and individual experiences of grief and gives practical and simple advice on coping with the pain and moving toward healing.

Lisa did go on to have a healthy daughter, and she also enjoys her college-aged stepdaughter. She and her family live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She loves the beach, skiing, graphic arts, decorating and spending time with her family.

Copyright © Lisa Church. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.