The experience of shock and grief feels unbearable. The loss of a child reverses at the natural order of things. The loss of a child means the loss of the hopes and dreams and expectations and unmade memories of a lifetime.
It's hard to talk about. You likely feel like people don't understand. Part of you may want everyone to just leave you alone- to stop asking if you are ok. You may feel like you just want to crawl into bed and shut out the world. Yet part of you feels so alone and in pain that you may long for someone to ease the ache, to hold you, and to undo this awful thing that has happened.
Words like grief, loss, bereavement, all seem so small in the face of this devastation. None of it makes sense.
Here's what I want to remember: you are allowed to grieve in whatever way you need to, even if others tell you to do it differently.
As much as you feel otherwise, try to remember that you are not alone. Others have walked this long, lonely and tortuous path before you. You, too, can survive.
When you are ready, reach out for help. Confide in a partner or trusted friend. Reach out to a religious or spiritual leader. Attend a grief support group or a retreat for parents who have lost a child. Talk to a therapist. There is help available. With support, you can heal.
Here are some resources that may be of help:
Online Information and Support
Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support http://nationalshare.org
Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) https://pregnancyafterlosssupport.com
Star Legacy Foundation for Stillbirth and Neonatal Death http://starlegacyfoundation.org
Three Little Birds Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support (phone and videoconference support available) http://www.threelittlebirdsperinatal.org
Compassionate Friends Infant and Child Loss https://www.compassionatefriends.org
Reconceiving Loss https://reconceivingloss.com
In-person Support Groups
UNITE Grief Support After Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death (PA and NJ)
Retreats for Grieving parents and families
Faith's Lodge https://faithslodge.org
Return to Zero HOPE http://rtzhope.org
Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby by Deborah L. Davis
Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple by Nathalie Himmelrich
Empty Arms: Coping With Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death by Sherokee Ilse
When Hello Means Goodbye by Paul Kirk and Pat Schwiebert
"When a child dies, you bury the child in your heart." -Korean Proverb
Sometimes, the best way to get support is with a licensed therapist who is trained in grief. Some therapists are cross trained in maternal mental health and grief, and may be your best resource in dealing with the loss of a baby. Others may work specifically with women and men who have lost a child. To find a therapist in your area, try an online therapist directory such as Psychologytoday.com or Goodtherapy.org You can search via zip code or town and, in some cases, you can narrow your search to specific specialities and insurances accepted.
Erin Jameson Saltzburg, MSSW, LCSW is a therapist located Exton, Pennsylvania. Her practice is called Turning Point Psychotherapy Associates, LLC. She works with mothers who have survived the loss of a child including through still birth, complications of labor and delivery and prematurity.