our everyday life

How to Comfort Your Wife Following a Miscarriage

by Dr. Sonya Lott, studioD

After a miscarriage, a woman who intended to carry her baby to term can feel guilt and a personal sense of responsibility or failure. Depression, as a result, is possible, especially for women who do not have the support of a loved one. As her husband, you can be a great source of support to your wife during this difficult time.

Understand that grief is an individual process, and the length of the grief process varies for each woman. According to a 2011 article published in the journal “Psychology Research and Behavior Management,” the entire grief process may last a few weeks or a few months. Your wife’s reaction to the loss of your baby will depend, in part, on her feelings about the pregnancy before the miscarriage. If the pregnancy had not been planned, her grief reaction, if any, may be less intense.

Let your wife know if you are feeling sadness too. Men and women grieve differently. Women, more than men, tend to express their sadness through crying. If you are feeling sad but trying to “keep a stiff upper lip” or be strong for her, she may assume that you aren’t emotionally connected to her experience of the loss. It is possible to share your sadness with her and, at the same time, support her by discussing her feelings. Being able to support one another can strengthen your relationship.

Remind her that she is not to blame for the miscarriage. Even though she may feel guilty or a sense of personal responsibility, miscarriages happen frequently, and the cause usually isn’t known.

Create some type of remembrance of your unborn child. You may only have ultrasounds and photos of your wife pregnant, but you can use these to create a scrapbook or a journal in which you both add your thoughts about the pregnancy and the loss of your baby. You may even want to add thoughts of gratitude you may be experiencing despite your sadness. This may seem particularly difficult at this time. But it’s likely that your wife is grateful that she has your support. You may be feeling a sense of gratitude that the miscarriage did not have a major impact on her physical well-being. You may be grateful for the support of others. Focusing on the blessings in your life despite your grief may reduce anxiety and depression as well as strengthen relationships.

Encourage her to join a support group if her symptoms of grief interfere with her day-to-day functioning after a period of four months. While the grief process is individualized, it is reasonable to expect it to last up to four months. If the intensity of her grief reaction interferes with her ability to sleep, work or care for herself, she may be experiencing clinical depression.

About the Author

Sonya Lott, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, who offers online and in office counseling to individuals struggling with grief, loss or a life transition. She also facilitates mental health workshops for educational, professional, and community groups and maintains a blog on her website www.drsonyalott.com.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images