It is humbling and powerful to sit with women and men who are sharing the sadness and pain of their experience of pregnancy loss, and the trauma that is often associated with this loss.
The pregnancy loss support group has been running for two years based at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in London and anyone who has experienced pregnancy loss can attend from one loss to multiple losses as well as anyone struggling with infertility. It is a place where we hope that people can feel safe and able to share their pain and sadness in a way that often they find they can’t elsewhere. An opportunity to tell their story and be heard and understood by others who carry their own pain, where they do not feel they are bringing others down or burdening them. A place to feel a little more connected and also to get advice about other physical and emotional therapies that are available and might be helpful to them.
Here are some words from a lady who has attended the group several times. She has had several pregnancy losses including miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and failed IVF. She and her husband are still hoping to hold their next baby in their arms…
“I’ve been attending a miscarriage support group at Queen Charlotte’s hospital on and off for approximately 1+1/2 to 2yrs. This support group has gotten me through some very, very tuff times and dark days. It’s a place where I can come together with others in person face to face in the same position as myself sharing the same pain, talking through our own personal experiences helping, supporting and offering advice to one another. I’ve found the support I received is second to none. Without this support group I’m truly not sure how I would have coped it’s the personal touch of meeting men and woman and sharing that’s gotten me through. I only wish there were many more of these groups around.”
People so often suffer pregnancy loss in silence. Many women struggle with a sense of shame that their bodies are not doing what they so desperately want them to do, what they “should” do.
They can be worried about what other people will think, or how people will respond.
There can be a fear that the response from someone will make them feel worse, that their pain will not be acknowledged or given sufficient gravity or that their struggle will be too much for someone else to bear so they may decide it is better not to tell people what they are going through.
This can leave women and their partners in a very isolated place, going through the motions of life, either pretending that they are ok or withdrawing from their circles of friends and family.
I suggest that it is best not to assume that friends/family have made a decision not to have children if they are not pregnant. They might well be having a struggle that they have decided not to discuss. They would probably prefer you not to ask them directly but giving them opportunity to tell you and showing them that you would be willing to listen, might give them the space and courage to do so. Often there is a sense of relief when the pain is shared if the response is caring and understanding; a response that is not trying to fix or sort anything out just a willingness to walk alongside them on a painful journey. Recovery can take a longer time than everyone hopes it will.
If someone you know has shared about a loss or you hear that someone has had a loss, I would encourage you to acknowledge it. In my experience just saying “I am so sorry” can make such a difference, and even “I don’t know what to say” is better than not saying anything. When those we care about are suffering it is quite likely that we will do/say something that is not ideal, even when we have the best intentions. Again, in my view it is better to make a fumbling attempt to let them know we care and are thinking of them than avoiding because we don’t know what to do or say. I see many couples/individuals struggling with an added heartbreak of friends/family not reaching out after a loss, which is over and above the pain and trauma of the loss itself.
For more information about the group (or groups in other areas) please go to:
Contact email address for questions and information about the West London group: email@example.com.
There is increasing recognition of the need for specialist counselling for this area of trauma and loss.
Petals is the baby loss counselling charity. They provide a free-of-charge specialised counselling service for parents who suffer pregnancy loss at Queen Charlotte and St Mary’s Hospitals in London, Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, and Ipswich Hospital www.petalscharity.org
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