Stages of Grief After a Miscarriage

Everyone grieves differently, but it's common to experience these 5 stages

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If you have recently miscarried or learned that you will miscarry, you will likely experience the five stages of grief. Typical emotions can range from shock or anger to sadness or numbness. Whatever you are feeling is OK. Everyone reacts differently to pregnancy loss, and pretty much any expression of miscarriage grief is normal.

Your feelings of grief may be at their strongest immediately after your loss and may feel similar to depression. The pregnancy hormone (hCG) has dropped in your body, and you will likely feel an overwhelming sadness. Feelings of grief may continue even after your menstrual period returns and your body recovers.

When people discuss grief, they often think of it in terms of five stages, a theory which originated in 1969 with the American-Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's book "On Death and Dying." Many people may find their grief after a miscarriage follows a similar pattern.

Some people go through all of these stages in order; others go through only some of them, and still others experience them in a different order. Here is what you need to know about the five stages of miscarriage grief. Knowing what to expect may help you understand what you are experiencing.

Denial and Isolation

Many people hold out a slim hope that their healthcare provider was wrong and that they are not, in fact, having a miscarriage. You might find yourself doing hours of research on the internet looking for another explanation for your miscarriage symptoms.

You also may not want to see anyone—not even your spouse or partner. You might even resent anyone who speaks to you. Some people hole up at home and do not take phone calls or go to work.

Social interaction may feel exhausting, and you may just want to be by yourself. If you are feeling this way, you need to recognize this desire to isolate yourself from others is a normal part of the grieving process. But at some point, it can help to be around other people, especially those that understand what you are going through.

Anger

You may look for someone to blame for the miscarriage. Many people blame their healthcare providers for not seeing the signs earlier and for not being able to prevent the loss from taking place. You might blame your partner or find some reason to blame yourself. Try to remember that miscarriage is very rarely anyone’s fault and usually cannot be prevented.

You also may feel resentment toward the medical clinic you attended if you felt its pregnancy loss support protocol was inadequate in some way. Your friends and relatives may infuriate you with thoughtless and unintentionally hurtful comments. Remind yourself that the people in your life rarely intend to hurt you—they are usually just trying to help.

Bargaining

If you are religious, you may try to bargain with a higher being and promise specific good deeds if you get pregnant again quickly and do not have a repeat miscarriage. Or, you may conduct hours of research on how to prevent miscarriages and search for anything that you can do to minimize the risk of another loss, such as leading a healthier lifestyle or trying alternative medicine tactics.

If you have this inclination, remind yourself that you likely did not do anything to cause your miscarriage and that most miscarriage causes are completely out of your hands. Working toward a healthier lifestyle is nearly always a good idea for any person, but avoid creating any unrealistic expectations for yourself. You also should reject any claims that something is a "miracle cure."

Depression

Some people wonder if they will ever have a baby. You may convince yourself that you just aren’t meant to be a parent, or that you are being punished for some reason. If you are trying to conceive again, and you are not getting pregnant as quickly as you would like, you may despair that it will never happen. And if you do get pregnant, you may feel intense anxiety and a conviction that you will miscarry again.

Images of babies or pregnancy in public and in the media might bother you as well, leading you to turn away when you see families with young children or people with visibly pregnant bodies. You may not be able to handle attending coworkers’ and relatives’ baby showers or visiting newborn babies.

You may even end up flipping the channel when commercials come on featuring pregnancy tests. Fortunately, 85% to 90% of people who have suffered a miscarriage will get pregnant again within a year.

If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Acceptance

Although the pain of your miscarriage may always be with you, it will at some point become easier to deal with. You will be able to look back and be sad that the miscarriage happened, but your feelings of sadness will not feel nearly as overwhelming as they did in the beginning.

Be patient with yourself if you are having trouble getting to this stage in the miscarriage grief process. Some people may not reach this stage until after giving birth to another child.

If you find that your struggles are significant or you are feeling worse instead of better, it may be helpful to talk to a healthcare provider or mental health professional to help you process your feelings and learn healthy ways of coping.

A Word From Verywell

Whatever you are feeling, please remember that it is normal and that it won’t always feel as overwhelming as it does in the beginning. You will find that you are stronger than you think and that, over time, coping with the miscarriage will become easier.

If you are struggling to manage your feelings or they are interfering with your day-to-day life and activities, reach out to a healthcare provider or mental health professional. They can help you process your feelings and provide advice on how to cope.

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4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  4. University of Utah Health. I can’t get pregnant after a miscarriage — Am I normal?.