Partner support through miscarriage
Miscarriage is something that impacts both partners, with each individual trying to process their recent loss.
Even though as the partner you might not have felt the physical changes of pregnancy or miscarriage, the emotional loss and self-blame is still just as significant. As partners, you can experience things very differently, but the important part is being there for one another.
Find out some of the strategies our fertility experts and counsellors recommend for staying connected and getting through it, together.
At Virtus Health, we are on a quest to de-stigmatise pregnancy loss. We’ve partnered with a new documentary on Stan, the Misunderstandings of Miscarriage, which follows Australian actress and filmmaker Tahyna Macmanus and her partner, Tristan Macmanus, on their four year journey of pregnancy and miscarriage.
Just as Tristan shares in the video, as the partner you still have your personal dreams of being a parent. You both lost the child. And while you might be searching for the right things to say and do, trying to make things right, you yourself may be having a difficult time in believing that it’ll get better.
As the partner you still have your dreams of being a parent. We both lost a child. You're trying to find the right things to say and the right things to do. You're just trying to find a way to make things better but you don't know if you believe at the time that it can be better.- Tristan Macmanus
This can take a heavy emotional toll. Our fertility experts and counsellors provide five areas to focus on, to help both individuals in the relationship come out the other side feeling cared for, heard, and supported.
1. Connect with your caregivers and be kind to each other.
Communicating is the first step, but sometimes you may need an external ear and this is where counselling can come in as an important element to help couples process their loss together.
For the partner who did not physically carry the baby, they can place a lot of pressure on themselves to provide support for the person who did, and push their own grief aside. When you speak to someone such as a fertility counsellor, it can help both individuals by voicing their feelings out loud to someone outside of their relationship.
2. Recognise that people experience things very differently.
As difficult as it is, try to remember that individuals experience things very differently, and try not to have expectations that your partner will feel or act in a certain way. Oftentimes, the grief is the same, but the expression of that grief can be different.
Even if you’ve known your partner for years, they may not act in a way that you expect. And you don’t need to have the answer. The most important thing is to listen to each other, and let each other grieve in their own way.
3. It’s ok to let the grief fill the room.
This can be uncomfortable, and that’s ok. Pregnancy loss is a very difficult thing to go through. Let yourselves acknowledge the hurt and the pain, together, and don’t be afraid for the grief to fill the room when you’re in a safe space.
4. Keep connected and ask each other what’s helpful.
Because miscarriage and pregnancy loss is something outside of anyone’s control, it can take a few extra strategies to learn how to cope, and how to support each other through it.
If you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, it can be easy to assume how your partner is feeling. This is why it’s so important to ask each other what you can do to provide support. You can each think about what is helpful for you and share these ideas.
Sometimes, the partner who didn’t physically go through the pregnancy loss can feel that they are on the sideline. Each person in the relationship can become focused on processing things on their own – but our fertility experts suggest that staying connected is important to prioritise. So take some time to do things you would normally enjoy doing together.
5. Find a way to acknowledge the pregnancy.
When it comes to pregnancy loss, whether it’s week 7 or week 20, there is so much more than the biology of that loss that needs to be grieved. The dreams of the future with the baby, the initial excitement of the pregnancy, the milestones that go with expecting. These are all suddenly taken away when miscarriage occurs.
When a family member or loved one passes away, we have ceremonies and traditions to allow our grief to surface. Finding a way to acknowledge the pregnancy in a physical representation can be helpful.
Couples may choose to do this by planting a tree in their garden, or having a memento that can be seen and taken out when they feel the need to honour their loss. Having a physical representation can also be used as a way to connect the loss of the baby to the parents’ children who are already a part of the family.
There is an annual International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and many also choose to take part in this day, marking their calendars each year to take a moment to honour their loss.
Need to talk? We’re here to listen.
Our counselling team is here for you. Counselling is free of charge to patients of IVFAustralia, Melbourne IVF, Queensland Fertility Group, TasIVF and Virtus Fertility Centre and it is available at all clinics. If you would like to access support from our counselling team, please contact us to book an appointment.
There are also a number of support groups and resources available including: