According to Carol Staudacher ("Men And
Grief") there are 3 distinct phases of
the phase of shock, numbness, disbelief and denial,
through: allowing and working through emotions like
guilt, fear, sadness
adjusting, taking on a new identity, reinvesting time, developing new
Each of those phases of grief confronts us with new challenges, problems we
solve for a successful recovery from grief. (Hannah Lothrop)
Phases of Grief
courtesy of Dnabi
The first hours, days or weeks after losing a child (or any loved one
for that matter) are predominated by feelings of pain and shock. You
feel numb and confused like in a big hazy cloud. You can't or don't
want to believe what happened. This pain can be quite physical, aching
arms or a chest that seems locked and hurts with every breath.
what to believe in anymore or if it will be possible to
trust again at all. Everything that seemed to be so safe and
unchangeable before seems very breakable or not to exist anymore now.
While according to Carol Staudacher men often seem to skip the second
phase, everyone seems to go
through this first phase.
Tasks of this phase are:
to temporarily manage the:
pain and anxiety shock,
getting hold of and
Things that might help
during this time:
- lots of hugs to overcome the shock. During a time where
everything is in question and you feel lost in this big hazy cloud,
being hugged is like finding a buoy in the midst those stormy
waters, warm and reassuring.
Talking about the loss,
telling your story - in the beginning your thoughts go in
circles and it is really hard to catch this snail by its tail. Getting
those thoughts out so you can hear or read them helps to find important
details, patterns, a glimpse on the whole. It restructures and helps
out of the confusion and disorientation.
Going for a walk, get
moving in any way, best outdoors - this is another way to
clear the mind. You might not remember where you went - being absorbed
in your thoughts but moving those muscles helps to get oxygen in your
system which again helps to clear your thoughts.
lamenting, expressing your loss through noises - crying
and shouting it all out, the pain, anger and disappointment is a really
great way to heal. Unfortunately it's not well taken in our society and
this crying happens alone. In other cultures everyone weeps together
and all those emotions can be expressed much more openly.
This is not the time to suppress feelings because they
might be selfish or in other ways not fit the occasion. Instead
acknowledge every feeling there might be. Only by doing that they can
Laying hands on your tummy - if you feel empty inside.
Sense what's going on inside you or have
a conversation with your dead baby or anything you can
hold in its place.
therapy, Bach Flower
therapy and massages
may be of some help as well.
This second phase of grief is the time to slowly adjust to a life
without your baby. The goal
of this phase is to
detach from you loved one but not from your emotions. It's
the time to feel and accept the pain of the loss and to give it or find
meaning for what has happened.
This is the time to work with emotions like anger and guilt,
depression, being left, ...
Woman often do that by confronting and enduring, thinking,
crying and writing about it. They usually use more language
based strategies to work through their grief.
/ Recovery From Grief
Phases of Grief
courtesy of Marinka van Holten
The recovery from grief is a process that involves a lot of thinking,
reorganizing and restructuring.
The goal is to
to the new environment, take on a new identity and reinvest time and
energy to develop new goals.
Giving a meaning to the sad experience surely
helps to grow and turn
experience into a positive force. In essence you channel the
pain so that it can help you heal.
this new experience to help
others is a great way to let go of the self
centred grieving. Turning towards others can help to heal ourselves.
Organizing fund raising events to support more research into
stillbirth, fostering children that had a not so good start in life,
being there for other grieving parents, are just some great ways to do
When you look at the sky at night,
it will be as if all the stars were laughing, because in one
them I shall be living, because in one of them I shall be laughing.
And when your sorrow is comforted ... you will be content that you have
(Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince)
Lothrop compares it to a tree that awakens in spring and
leaves and flowers.
A new interest
in activities and relationships brings with it
regained concentration, memory, ability to think and a new
balance and peacefulness.
To get there
often feels like moving in waves or spirals. Phases of deep grief and
longing for answers take
turns with phases of calmness and contentedness.
This is normal
and going back to the 2nd phase of grief doesn't mean that
you start again at point zero - rather similar topics are worked on
again and again at higher and higher levels. The strong emotions
connected with it will soften with time. The waves will stretch further
and further apart.
Some people choose to mark
the end of their time to grief
special ritual. When that would be only you can decide by listening to
your inner voice.
Some ideas for such a ritual:
a fire ritual,
where you (and maybe other close people) write down what you want to
keep and what
you are ready to let go in connection with the loss. Then, in a
ceremony you'll let go and burn the list with things to let go of and
keep the one with the things to keep.
having a special
dance at a special place
feels helpful to you to mark that shift (climbing a
mountain alone, starting a little diary to collect all the blessings...)