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There is No Loss Greater Than Your Own

breathing choices comparison grieving infant loss journaling mindfulness miscarriage pregnancy loss reflect society stillbirth Aug 08, 2020

The deep seated pain of losing your baby is unlike any other loss in life.  Grieving mothers, and society around them, may mindlessly make comparisons due to:

  • The uncertainty of the situation.
  • As a behavioral guide.
  • As a result of unprocessed feelings.
  • To make themselves feel better.

Remember, every loss has multiple factors making it difficult to compare.  It does not matter if your loss was:

  • At 8 weeks or 38 weeks. 
    • The timing is inconsequential. 
    • Early loss does not equal less pain.
  • Your first loss or your fifth.
    • Every baby you carry is precious and has woven a place into your heart forever. 
    • Loss does not get easier with experience.
  • Expected or unexpected. 
    • Some babies have a known genetic abnormality not compatible with life.  Other women are fighting an infection jeopardizing their pregnancy.  Many medical conditions can increase the risk of a pregnancy loss and stillbirth. 
    • Despite a doctor saying your baby will not survive, their passing still feels unexpected.
  • Ended by passing clots, delivering vaginally, or requiring surgery.
  • Occurred when you were awake or under anesthesia. 
    • I believe your mind, body, and soul absorbs the pain regardless of your consciousness.
  • When you were alone or supported by the presence of a loved one. 
    • You can feel “alone” even when surrounded by doctors, nurses, a partner, family member, or friend.

Some people make comparisons in conversation with you.  For example, while attending a party, my loss became a topic of conversation.  Another woman told me losing my daughter was not as bad as her daughter’s loss because I was already a mother with a son at home. 

I quickly found the need to excuse myself as angry tears blurred my vision.  My thoughts were, “It does not matter if you have zero children to come home to or ten.  My baby is the one I long to hold.”

How does mindfulness play into these situations? Here are some tips.

  • When you start comparing your loss, shift your attention to your breath. 
    • As air passes into your lungs think, “Inhale.” 
    • As you notice your breath releasing from your body as you think, “Exhale.” 
    • Soften one area of tension in your body with each exhalation. 
    • Repeat for 1-5 minutes.
  • After pausing with your breath work, notice if you are still comparing yourself.  If you are, get curious. 
    • Ask yourself, “Why am I comparing my loss to someone else?” 
    • Dig deep, repeating the question two or three more times to get to the root of your emotions. 
    • Journaling these thoughts may prove useful.
  • Consider the motive of the person comparing your loss. 
    • Are they in pain?
    • Are they capable of empathizing with you?
    • Are there generational factors?
    • Were they somehow trying to lessen your pain and it came out wrong?
    • If you find yourself in this situation again, how would you handle it differently to best support yourself?

When reflecting back to the painful comparison made at the party, I can use these questions shifting my perception. 

I believe the woman making the comparison longed to be a grandmother.  Her only child’s loss crushed her dreams of a little one in the family.  At that point in time, I think the loss was still raw and painful for her.  Her ability to empathize with my loss was not available to her.

In the future, instead of walking away, I may choose to say, “There is no loss greater than your own.  I am sorry you know that pain, too.”

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