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The stages of grief

Moving through grief

There are several stages of grief:


1. Shock and denial

The initial reaction is always marked by a state of shock during which you feel numb, like things are unreal. Denial is a normal and temporary defense mechanism that allows you to remain functional and to maintain a semblance of control in the face of something tragic.

At some point, the truth of the situation will set in and you will experience a flood of emotions. Most people cry but others can’t shake incomprehension and are left speechless. Each parent might be impacted differently while experiencing the same situation.

However, it is important to ask for help if this condition lasts for too long, as it can prevent you from moving on to the other stages of grief and could lead to physical or psychological problems.


2. Disorganization

The reality of the loss becomes more and more present in this stage, which varies from person to person in terms of duration and intensity.

Some parents feel anxious and overwhelmed by sadness and find it difficult to perform the simplest daily tasks. Sleep disturbances (insomnia, hypersomnia) and appetite changes may occur, resulting in fatigue, a general lack of interest, and a decrease in self-esteem. This stage is similar to a temporary state of depression that can last a varying amount of time.

During this phase, certain emotions such as anger, fear, feelings of guilt, injustice or shame can show up. Some parents will feel the need to talk about their experiences, while others will need to isolate themselves for a time and avoid contact with others.

Advice

Here are some suggestions to help you through this stage of grief.

  • Express the emotions you feel and resist the urge to avoid them or run away from them.
  • Give yourself permission to talk about your baby with your partner and with others.
  • Allow yourself to cry when you feel the need.
  • Try to keep good sleep habits (and if you feel like a nap, take a nap)
  • Return to your daily activities as soon as you are able.
  • Get outside to get some exercise or to just take a short walk.
  • Take time for yourself. Try to be kind to yourself and do things that bring you comfort.
  • Do not be afraid to ask a professional for help if you feel the need.


3. Reorganization

Little by little, your emotions will feel less intense, the pain will be less strong and the sadness more bearable. During this phase, you will feel calmer and have more energy, which will help you to, step by step, reorganize your life without your baby.

Some parents report that the intervals of time between painful thoughts of their baby grows longer at this stage. This reaction is normal and healthy, because it is a sign that you are quietly coming out of mourning.

Even though your baby isn’t always at the forefront of your mind, you will never forget them. Returning to your life does not mean you love them less or you aren’t honouring their memory.


4. Reclamation

Slowly, you will start putting distance between yourself and the loss, and before long, you will notice how far you have come.

You will start entertaining the idea of new projects and endeavors, which will allow you to start enjoying life’s small pleasures again.


5. Transformation

Finding meaning in the loss of your baby can help you regain some peace and equilibrium. You might find that your values and beliefs may be different and you have a new perspective on life.

“Grieving is a test, a profound upheaval of life. It transforms. New things emerge from this suffering. But the only thing that never dies is love, the one we received and the one we gave.”

Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

Love is what remains when there is nothing left.

Christiane Singer

The search for meaning

Question addressed in this video:

  • How can we find meaning in the loss of our baby?

About this page
Updated on 12/10/2019
Created on 11/7/2019
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