Baby Loss Support
SELF-CARE WHILE GRIEVING
The following are ideas suggested by grief experts as supportive measures for someone undergoing the stress of bereavement. Some of these ideas you may resonate with, some you may not. Remember, there is no right way to grieve the loss of your baby. Be gentle with yourself. For those looking for holistic ways to support yourself during this time, I have included some information on massage, acupuncture, prayer and meditation, Bach Flower Remedies, homeopathic remedies, and essential oils traditionally recommended to support someone during the shock of grieving a loss. These natural remedies are gentle and helpful for children, also. This information is for educational purposes only, and is not meant to prescribe, diagnose, treat or cure any illness or disease.
HONOR YOUR GRIEF
Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace. Be gentle with yourself, your partner, and other children if you have any. Grief can not be rushed. Your mind, body, heart and spirit need time and energy to adjust and recover from the shock of losing your baby. You may need to take each day one hour, moment at a time. If you are feeling overwhelmed with grief and anger, getting some old dishes and smashing them can be an incredible outlet.
Books, poems, articles, and online resources can be helpful to navigate the torrent of emotions that are a part of grieving and that we as parents were not typically mentally prepared to face. Writing can be an excellent outlet, and many parents keep a journal. Writing letters and poetry to your baby, and doing creative projects can be a wonderful way to keep your baby’s memory alive. It provides a way to continue to parent a child a child that isn't with you physically.
Participating in Pregnancy & Infant Loss memorial activities during October and lighting a candle on October 15, or honoring your baby on August 19th—Day of Hope can be very healing when you feel ready to do so.
Know that holidays, birthdays, due dates, Mother’s & Father’s Day, unexpectedly running into a pregnant woman and seeing or hearing a baby while you are out are all situations that are especially difficult when you have lost a child. Please, honor your feelings. Do not push yourself to do more than you feel capable of; or place someone else’s needs, feelings, or expectations above your own. It is okay to put yourself and your needs first.
ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE SUPPORTED
Grief can feel very lonely and isolating at times, yet you do not have to do this alone. Allow yourself to be supported. Get help from family, friends, fellow church members, clergy, and support groups. This can be as simple as allowing someone to help with household chores, meals, or to provide a listening heart and ear. Talking about your baby and your feelings is an excellent way to sort through and release emotions. If you feel no one close to you understands what you are going through, seek out other parents that have lost a child. They can provide insight, grieve with you, and remind you that you are not alone. It is normal to question your faith after losing a child. You may be very angry at God because of the unfairness of it all. Requesting help and support from spiritual leaders helps to renew hope and faith.
You may find that you have little interest in food after losing your baby; therefore you may have to remind yourself to eat or may just reach for junk food and fast food. You may also notice your eating habits fluctuating during different phases of bereavement. Do the best as you can to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. This will help your energy level. It is also important because the stress of grief places an additional strain on your immune system. Drink 8 glasses of fluid a day. Limit alcohol and caffeine from coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks because these can cause dehydration, headaches, and/or low back pain. Alcoholic beverages also depress the body function and natural emotional expression. Tobacco depletes the body of vitamins, decreases circulation, and natural emotional expression. Allowing others to bring you meals can be very helpful. It is okay to let them know if you are not up for a visit, but would really appreciate a meal dropped off to you.
Grief is not only painful emotionally, it can take a physiological toll as well. You could lose your appetite or have a hard time sleeping. There can be unbearable sadness mixed with anger, fear, or a loss of emotions altogether. Do your best to get enough rest. You may need a nap or to go to bed earlier. Lack of sleep can decrease your ability to think clearly and cause you to feel more emotional. If you are having difficulty sleeping, do your best to maintain a regular bedtime routine.
Moderate exercise is daily is helpful: biking, swimming, yoga, jogging, or even a walk around the block. Exercise and physical activity burn cortisol and adrenaline—the hormones produced by the body when under stress, such as anger, anxiety or fear. It also stimulates the brain's pituitary gland to release endorphins—morphine-like hormone molecules that are the body's natural pain relievers and mood elevators. Regular physical activity can provide some relief from persistent overwhelming thoughts. It helps strengthen your immune system and promotes oxygen exchange between the blood and air, speeding the metabolism. Deep slow breaths help release stagnant emotions and alter the hormones and chemicals within the body.
Schedule a routine check up around four months after the loss of your baby. The increased stress that accompanies grief can weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to illness and disease.
It is recommended to be careful with the use of alcohol and prescription medications in times of extreme grief. While prescription medications may be helpful at first, long term use can delay the process by repressing the pain, thus making the grieving process longer.
PLAN ACTIVITIES YOU CAN LOOK FORWARD TO
Take time for yourself and plan activities that you can look forward to such as a trip to the beach, a movie, lunch with a friend, dinner out, reading a book, working on a creative project, a soak in the tub, getting a massage or body work, etc. Allow yourself to enjoy these activities as best you are able to, without guilt as you relax and enjoy yourself. This is not a betrayal of the mourning your precious baby.
PRAYER & MEDITATION
Meditation and prayer are a simple way to quiet your mind and clear away information overload. Spending even a few minutes in prayer and meditation can reduce stress and restore your calm. When experiencing the shock and stress of losing a child, it is common to question your faith in God, your spiritual beliefs. Prayer and meditation can bring you back your center. You can even have a conversation with God while in meditation and prayer. Pour out your feelings; share your shock, your anger, whatever is true for you. You may want to scream at God, “Why do they get a baby, and I don’t!?” Releasing the raw emotions helps to transform your grief. With time, prayer and meditation can help release the normal, natural human need to know why we lost our precious baby. When we can come to terms with the fact that we may never know why, much as our minds and hearts cry for it, then we can begin to find some peace.
Mediation and prayer is also a value time to do some forgiveness work. So often as parents, especially we mothers, blame ourselves for the loss of our child. Mothers often feel we have failed to do our job of protecting our baby. When we become ready, forgiveness of self and others sets us free.
Simply focusing on your breath as you inhale deeply and slowly helps to alter the hormones and chemicals within your body. When we are stressed and anxious our breathing becomes shallow and rapid. Taking several slow deep breaths can quiet racing thoughts and still our bodies. Here is a simple meditation that if practiced regularly can help you to feel calmer in the moment:
Begin by closing your eyes and taking a few deep, slow breaths. Just inhale through your nose and exhale some of the stress, strain, and tension through your mouth. And again, releasing a bit more with each breath you exhale. Just taking several deep breaths like this. Releasing, relaxing, and letting go. And when you are ready, switching to gently breathing in and out through your nose. Feeling the air as it moves in and out of your lungs. Take a few breaths like this. And now with your next breath, inhale deeply and send your breath all the way up to your brain. Send your breath all the way up to your brain, clearing your mind... clearing your thoughts... releasing, relaxing, letting go as you exhale. And again. Now breathe into your heart. Easily and gently... breathe into your heart. Allow your breath to create a warm feeling, a lovely glow within your heart. And again. Exhaling any stress, strain, pain and tension. Now focus on peace, calm, quiet... you can focus on the love you have for your baby. Allow that peace, that calm, that quiet, and the love to fill your heart as you place your hands upon your heart. Allow that love... allow that peace to fill your heart, to fill your body... to fill every cell in your body now. More relaxed with every breath... Take all the time you need... And now, take a deep breath and send that love, that peace, that calm and quiet... all the way down to your toes... all the way down to the tips of your toes. And again. And when you are ready, opening your eyes. Feeling centered, focused, and at ease.
Daily meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, anger, and even lower inflammation in the body. If you feel like you are unable to quiet your mind, guided meditation is a powerful way to assist with that.
When we are grieving, the stress and powerful emotions we are experiencing can take weaken our immune systems and manifest in our bodies physically. These overwhelming emotions of sadness, anger, depression, and grief cause constriction within the body. The body stiffens up resulting in muscle aches and knots, headaches, and other problems. The body is communicating that something is wrong and needs to be addressed or released. Massage is an excellent way to release tension, alleviate pain, and move grief and sorrow from the body. Strong emotions can actually be stored within the body, and massage and other bodywork can release the strong emotions that are trapped. It is not unusual for someone to cry when having a massage, acupuncture, or other bodywork. This means the sadness, pain, guilt, sorrow are being released from the muscles and very cells of the body. It might feel overwhelming at the time, but it is excellent and creates the space for transforming your grief.
The goal of acupuncture is to create harmony within the body by restoring the flow of Qi, the life force involved in all body functions—heartbeat, breathing, metabolism and even emotions. In Chinese medicine, no symptom or compliant is viewed in isolation. Rather the body, mind, and soul are evaluated together. Acupuncture helps to restore balance in the body, and it is extremely helpful in moving emotional blockages to be released. A treatment session often triggers crying, as the grieving person lets go and the releases the intense emotions. The beauty of acupuncture is that it also will address any imbalances present that could manifest into other physical symptoms, and help strengthen the immune system that becomes weaken by the stress of bereavement. Chinese medicine also uses herbal remedies and nutrition to build balance and strength within the mind, body, and spirit. faith.
When someone is grieving, they need comfort and help dealing with what has happened. They need a way to find peace. Yoga can help. Far from being a simple exercise to improve flexibility, yoga is an all-encompassing way to heal and improve.Yoga helps to focus your energy and thoughts, and clear your mind, which is not the same as forgetting. It's a way of decluttering and finding a refuge of calm away from worries. Yoga helps you focus on the essential connection with your lost loved one and cope with their passing.
Even when we're in mourning and trying to cope with a devastating loss, there will still be real-world problems to deal with. Bills, arrangements, your job—the list goes on—will all still be there. Yoga and meditation help us find our center and our strength, which leaves us better prepared to handle everything else. During mourning, frustration is common. Yoga and meditation are great ways to regulate your body and helps to bring peace spiritually.
Yoga provides a sense of community. Yoga is healing when you practice it alone, but it's even more healing when you're practicing with others. Sharing your experience with someone else who is also grieving can give solace to everyone.
Essential Oils are soothing, stress reducing, and help strengthen the immune system. The stress of grief weakens our spirits, as well as our immune system.
Massage, acupuncture, Bach Flower Essences, meditation, and homeopathic remedies combine well with aromatherapy during grief.
Rose is a tonic on the nervous system and is a potent, yet gentle antidepressant. It is helpful for postpartum depression especially when there is grief involved. Rose is very expensive, yet very little needs to be used for healing effects. It is preferable to find distilled Rose oil, or an absolute that has been extracted by the carbon dioxide method.
Benzion is warming, soothing, and stimulating. It is helpful for someone that is feeling sad and lonely, depressed and/or anxious. It combines well with rose.
Bergamot is uplifting and still relaxing. It is helpful for tension, anxiety, and depression, especially when used with massage. It is good in combination with lavender for diffusing in rooms or as a room fragrance.
Chamomile has a profoundly calming effect on the emotional level. It is one of the gentlest of the oils and is suitable for children. It can be used in the bath for insomnia instead of lavender or mixed with it.
Lavender is calming, soothing and balancing. Lavender in the bath is helpful for mental stress, anxiety, or difficulty sleeping. A few drops on the pillow case can also be very effective.
Marjoram is very good for the loneliness that can often accompany grief, especially as is the case with baby loss.
Melissa is best used in a 1% dilution. It is an excellent remedy for shock for it has a calming effect on over-rapid breathing and heartbeat, and elevated blood pressure due to stress. Melissa, along with Bach’s Rescue Remedy, can help people with the first terrible hours of shock and distress due to a loss.
Rosewood has a calming and steadying effect upon the nerves and is valuable in a crisis. It is uplifting and has anti-depressive qualities.
Essential oils can be used in massage, as a room fragrance or diffused in the air, rubbed on temples and wrists, or in the bath. When using essential oils in the bath mixing 8 drops into a tablespoon of honey or carrier oil helps to disperse the oils nicely. Use 4 drops for children, 1 drop for a baby, mixed in a carrier oil first.
Please, essential oils should never be taken internally or be applied neat—that is, without diluting them in a carrier oil first—without the proper supervision of a qualified aromatherapist or medical caregiver. This rule is especially important with using oils with babies and small children. Use a 1% - 1.5% dilution, and a 3% dilution for adults. Lavender and Tea Tree are the exceptions and can be applied neat—except when applying them to babies and small children. In this case, they should still always be diluted first. Oil and water do not mix, so if the oils are too strong on your skin, they must be diluted with a carrier oil. Attempting to wash them off with soap and water will drive the oils deeper into the skin. Make certain to apply oils to apply the oils where babies and small children can not reach them, to avoid getting the oils in their eyes. The rule is “Less is More” in aromatherapy.
BACH FLOWER REMEDIES
Bach Flower Remedies can be safely taken with other medicines and remedies. They are gentle and work on the emotional and spiritual level. The following flower essences are suggested for grief.
Rescue Remedy is the immediate choice for someone that received a shock of any kind such as bereavement. It is a composite of five Flower Essences: Impatiens—for agitation; Star of Bethlehem—for shock; Cherry Plum—for desperation; Rock Rose— for terror and panic; and Clematis—for faintness.
For immediate or emergency use, dilute 4 drops in a small glass of water or other liquid, sipping frequently. Replenish if necessary. A couple of drops can also be rubbed on the wrists and behind the ears.
Sweet Chestnut is for agonizing mental anguish, utter despair, and the shock of bereavement.
Star of Bethlehem for the inconsolable, after shock, bereavement, or trauma.
Gentian is suitable for depression due to a long-term difficult situation such as suppressed grief during bereavement.
Honeysuckle can be very helpful to the bereaved.
Walnut it is the essence to for times of major life changes such as pregnancy and bereavement.
Cherry Plum is indicated for people that fear their mind may be giving away due to the grief. (This can be a normal feeling after losing a baby. However, if these feelings become overwhelming or you feel like you may act on suicidal thoughts or feelings, please contact your caregiver or a therapist.)
There are two ways to take the flower essences. The first is to put 2 drops of each selected essence into a glass of water, sipping it throughout the day, four times a day. The second method is good to use when taking the essences on a daily basis—such as in times of bereavement. Obtain an empty 1 oz dropper bottle from the health food store or online. Put 2 drops of each selected flower essence into the bottle (you can add up to seven different essences together) and then fill the remainder of the bottle with purified water. Keep this treatment bottle, as it is referred to, refrigerated. Take 4 drops, four times a day.
Homeopathic remedies work on all levels of our beings: mind, body, emotion and spirit. Therefore, they are often very effective in treating the acute symptoms of grief. Professional psychological care is also suggested when grief is deep or prolonged.
Ignatia is the primary remedy for grief, and is often referred to as the grief remedy. It is especially indicated for someone is trying to unsuccessfully hold in their grief or suppress their emotions. It is indicated if someone becomes hysterical due to grief and shock.
Natrum Mur is indicated for times of grief that goes unexpressed or the person is having difficulty letting the pain go surrounding the loss. This type of suppression can lead to physical complaints. It is especially indicated for someone that rarely cries in public and prefers to sob when alone. They often reject sympathy and want to be left alone.
Pulsatilla is helpful for a headache accompanying grief. This remedy is especially indicated for someone that is emotional and sensitive, and easily affected by the environment they are in and the people around them. Their moods are changeable. They can be weeping one moment and laughing the next. Their tears have a sweetness to them that makes others want to hug them. (Note: pulsatilla can be used for the suppression of breast milk.)
Staphysagria is the primary remedy for someone who suppresses their grief and tries to control their feelings: they silently stew about their problems. They can experience physical ailments that begin shortly after the suppression of grief. One can only repress their feelings for so long, and eventually they will explode in a rage. They may tremble, lose their voice, throw things, have great difficulty concentrating, become exhausted and suffer from insomnia. They are often sensitive to the least offense: every word said to them is taken the wrong way. When they finally do explode, they tend to feel badly afterwards.
Homeopathic remedies are can be taken on an as needed basis or every 2-4 hours in acute situations. Typically, the suggested dosage is 1-2 tablets or 3-4 pellets. Homeopathic remedies should not be handled. It is best to take them 15 minutes before or after food or drink (water is okay) when possible. Store homeopathic remedies away from strong odors and essential oils.