Pregnancy Loss

I wish more women would talk 

ABOUT IT SO THEY WOULDN'T FEEL SO BAD WHEN THEY GO THROUGH IT

To grieve a tiny human that no one else knew is difficult. How do we talk about a life that ends just as it is beginning?  Many women describe pregnancy loss as an inaudible internal screaming which is met by isolating and engulfing silence. Almost as if a hand covers your mouth and muffles your voice to ensure you feel unable to talk about it.

 

Miscarriage is very common and so many women share this experience. Yet, somehow pregnancy loss forces uncomfortable secrecy and parents are often left lonely in their grief.  Further minimisation of the loss by well-meaning individuals and through medicalised terminology mentioning products of conception or foetus rather than a baby reinforces a message of an inconsequential loss. Parents are often left wondering if they should speak of their loss and doubt their right to grieve.

 

Pregnancy loss can be traumatic causing an overwhelming emotional pain which people are usually unprepared for. People may suffer physically, emotionally and mentally and depression following pregnancy loss is common.

INVISIBILITY

The loss of a pregnancy is unseen by others so the grief that then follows is often invisible which reinforces the uncomfortable secrecy surrounding the loss. Parents, particularly those in early pregnancy stages often wonder how and if they are even allowed to grieve? Any kind of pregnancy loss is a real loss. You are still a parent to your baby and if you suffer a loss the grief is real you are of course allowed to mourn.

WHY ART THERAPY

It is difficult to grieve a loss that we cannot see or is not acknowledged by the world surrounding us. Art making can begin to make the loss visible and tangible. Art can establish rituals or ways to memorialise the small human being that carried with it dreams and hopes of an anticipated baby.

 

Sometimes pain can be so great that there are no actual words to explain what it feels like. Art therapy can help to give voice to what feels unspeakable. The words may not ever come but what is made can help to convey the depth of emotions felt which can make the search for words unnecessary. Art therapy can help to confront what can at times feel to be a consistently hurtful message that the loss you are recovering from is trivial. 

Feelings surrounding the loss of a pregnancy can be conflicting and we often find ourselves caught between the need to remember but also the overwhelming desire to forget. It is normal to feel like the loss is not acknowledged and also normal to find words feel powerless in describing the intense emotions which can occur. Usual support people may feel helpless and unable to morn as they did not ‘know’ the little human that was expected. The parents, however, have lost a baby, an anticipated life and a new member of their family. There was a real life that was nurtured and the absence of normal human rituals and processes such as funeral or death certificates reflects the absence of a known person and can compound the secrecy and lack of acknowledgment of a life that had begun to grow.

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Asha Munn BFA, MA 

Art Psychotherapist (Masters Art Psychotherapy Practice, UK)

Artist (Bachelor of Fine Arts, Elam, NZ)

Health and Care Professions Council. UK Registration No. AS14856

British Association of Art Therapists registered (UK)

Australia and NZ Association of Art Therapists registered (NZ)

Restorative Justice Facilitator - Auckland Restorative Justice Trust

Accredited Domestic Violence Facilitator 

All art work shared here is done so with the permission of the magnificent artists I have worked with over the years