by Anna Kettle
Having walked through recurrent pregnancy loss, people often ask for ways to cope with grief after miscarriage. Whilst there’s no “one-size fits all” approach—because each of my losses felt different, both physically and emotionally—there are key themes that can help.
Here are some things I wish I had known about miscarriage when it first happened to me, and my best suggestions for how to deal with the grief after miscarriage.
1. Self-compassion: Permission to not be okay
Those who have never experienced a miscarriage often think it isn’t a big deal, especially if it happens fairly early into a pregnancy. It’s also easy to minimise or rationalise away your pain through comparisons: “I was only 7 weeks along” or “At least I can still have more.”
Pregnancy loss at any stage, or in any way, can be deeply traumatic. Just because someone isn’t pregnant for very long doesn’t make the disappointment of loss any less real. I have lost pregnancies at 7 weeks, 8.5 weeks and 11 weeks, and none felt “more” or “less” painful based on the time I knew I was pregnant. Loss is loss, and pain is pain. It doesn’t come in degrees.
Be kind and allow yourself plenty of grace. Be prepared to slow the pace of life, free up the calendar a little, or cancel unnecessary commitments. Take some time off work (your employer should support this) and allow time and space to process and heal.
2. Slow down: Healing takes time
Until my first miscarriage, I always thought it happened suddenly and fast. After all, that’s usually how it’s depicted in TV shows. But sometimes the body moves slowly and so does the healing process.
My first miscarriage unfolded gradually. It took three separate scans and hospital trips spanning a four-week period to confirm my loss. Throughout that time, my husband and I existed in limbo about whether my pregnancy would survive, which meant we couldn’t begin to process grief for quite some time. Even if your miscarriage happens quickly, be prepared for your physical and emotional recovery to take longer.
Too often, we put on a brave face and act like nothing has happened after a miscarriage—especially if you have other children to care for. Don’t rush to get “over it”, and don’t take pressure on from others around you.
Although loss after miscarriage might feel abstract because you never met or held your child, it doesn’t mean you will be over it after a week. Miscarriage isn’t something you “get over” but rather learn to live with and absorb into your story.
3. Don’t ignore grief: Don’t rush past pain
After a miscarriage, it’s easy to want to quickly replace a loss with another pregnancy as a quick fix for pain. Don’t feel overly-pressurised to rush into having another baby. The heart often takes longer to heal than the body.
After my first loss, I thought replacing my pregnancy quickly would be healing, but when that replacement pregnancy resulted in a further loss, I found myself grieving the loss of two babies at once.
Take it slowly with good self-care. Make sure you eat well, exercise, sleep enough, get plenty of fresh air, treat yourself, plan some fun days out, listen to what your body and emotions are trying to tell you and spend time with people you love.
4. Practical tools: Helping you process emotions
Since experiencing recurrent miscarriage, I’m a huge advocate for regular pause and self-reflection. Whether it’s talking to a counsellor or friend, or regularly journaling how you feel, find a specific tool or outlet for exploring and expressing your emotions.
There’s something about writing thoughts on paper or speaking them out loud, which helps with the mental processing and healing. A regular “emotional pulse check” at the end of my day has become a life-giving practice for me beyond miscarriage recovery.
Don’t bottle up your pain, anger, disappointment and fear. It’ll only end up spilling out at the wrong place, time or person. Instead, face it, name it and deal with it today.
5. Hang in there: Grief comes in waves
Processing grief after miscarriage is a rollercoaster of different emotions, such as shock, numbness, disbelief, anger, disappointment, sadness, and bucket loads of tears.
Psychologists talk about grief as a series of steps, but it’s not linear with a clear start and finish. Even when you think you are over loss, unexpected moments knock you sideways again. Comments from a work colleague about having another child, anniversaries, missed pregnancy milestones or a friend’s ultrasound photo can knock you back.
Be prepared that it may well be like this for a while, but the sting of these things will lessen over time.
6. It’s good to talk: Seek out other women
Not everyone feels like talking right away, but once you’re ready, try to share what’s happened with close friends or family members. Seeking out other women to talk to who have been through similar struggles has been one of the most healing things for me.
When you’re hurting, confused or feel misunderstood, it’s amazing to hear others say, “Me too. I know how it feels. It’s hard and it hurts, but it won’t be this way forever.”
While many women choose to struggle silently through miscarriages and infertility, healing happens best in community. Looking at scriptures, we weren’t designed to deal with loss in isolation; it’s too heavy a burden to bear alone.
Opening up to women who have been through something similar offers solidarity and refuge. Suddenly you’re not alone with questions and worries and doubts and fears. Seek others in your workplace, friendship group, church, or a blog, support group or online community.
7. Closure is hard: Commemorate your loss
One of the hardest things about miscarriage is how intangible the loss can seem to others—especially if it was early, or not many knew you were pregnant. How do you grieve a life that’s barely begun—and get any closure? While there’s no blueprint for grieving or commemorating a pregnancy loss, you’ll find many ways to memorialize a loss.
You can be creative in how you mark your loss and remember your baby. Ultimately, “how” you do it is less important than “why”: remembering and affirming what you lost mattered, a great source of comfort and closure.
8. Sometimes there are no words: Borrow prayers
After my pregnancy losses, I often found it difficult to worship or pray. I knew I needed God’s help to cope, but I didn’t know what to say—even though I am a writer and words are kind of my thing!
I frequently found it hard to still my mind and focus my thoughts. Most attempts at prayer during this season were a few uttered words like: “God, I feel so broken, please help me,” or “Lord, I really need your strength today.” Many resembled breath prayers—simple prayers spoken in a single breath and repeated numerous times throughout the day.
Though my prayers weren’t long or eloquent in this season, they were some of the most honest and heartfelt prayers I have ever prayed.
I learned to borrow others’ prayers—using prayer books, devotionals or straight from scripture. If you’re struggling to pray, why not start small with borrowed words or breath prayers as well?
9. Honest questions with God: He cares and knows
In the deepest throes of grief, I found myself angry with God. I couldn’t understand how He let this happen—not just once, but again and again.
I wasn’t exactly blaming God for the miscarriages. Deep down, I knew He hadn’t caused them. Miscarriage is another tragic consequence of living in this fallen, sin-stained world. But having the right theological answers doesn’t take the pain away.
We can honestly share our emotions with God. He isn’t shocked or surprised by our tears, anger, sadness or doubt. Look at Psalms, Lamentations or Job! These writers weren’t scared to be real with God. Just like any relationship, our intimacy with God thrives when we are fully ourselves, honest and real about where we’re at.
Take your sadness, anger, questions and fears into His presence. Tell Him how you feel and allow Him to meet you and speak to you there.
10. Your spouse hurts too: Extend grace
I wasn’t prepared for the extra emotional stress miscarriage can place on your marriage. Two people can be on the same grief journey with different feelings, reactions and ways of processing a loss. It can feel isolating.
I am an external processor who likes to talk about everything as it happens. My husband is a quiet reflector and didn’t want to hear my minute-by-minute updates! It didn’t mean he wasn’t hurting or didn’t care, but it sometimes felt that way.
Communication is key! The way couples handle their grief can make or break their relationship—divorce rates are higher amongst couples who have faced miscarriage, infertility or baby loss.
Don’t shut each other out, or struggle on alone; learn to talk about how you are feeling together, extend extra grace on the hard days and support each other wherever you are at.
Anna Kettle is an author, podcaster, speaker, award-winning marketing professional and co-founder of SPACE, a miscarriage and infertility support network. Her first book is Sand Between Your Toes: Inspirations for a Slower, Simpler, More Soulful Life. Anna writes and speaks about miscarriage, infertility, grief and hope. She lives in Liverpool, England with husband Andy and son Ben. www.annakettle.com IG@annakettlewrites