Navigating Motherhood Related Loss
This guest post is written by contemplative guide Kirat Randhawa
The experience of motherhood is complex as it naturally entails a myriad of emotional, mental, and spiritual content. Because of this, each woman is invited to adjust to the intelligence of her body and adopt a collaborative perspective to life - one that requires both internal and external transformation. It happens differently for each woman, and along with the joyous moments that this journey provides, the path also includes experiences of unique grief. Whether it’s the closing of a chapter of life as you previously knew it, the transition of womanhood and self-perception, experiencing a miscarriage, or losing a child in some other way, loss is something that many on this path face.
Despite the frequency of motherhood-related loss, there is still a lot of stigma associated with this topic, increasing the isolation that many women experience. Research shows that these experiences are intensified by the fact that most women are unprepared to face the painful reality of loss, denial, and disorientation. In addition, society may make the woman feel at fault for the loss which reinforces unhealthy images of how these women are perceived. This naturally prevents more women from sharing their experiences and reaching out for support.
For those navigating loss on this path, it’s crucial to remember that it is not your fault. Seeking out supportive communities that echo this premise can be powerfully healing, as well as listening to stories of others who have experienced similar events. Support groups focused on particular types of loss can provide additional coping resources that can work to nurture unmet psychological and emotional needs. While finding a new community, it’s important to ensure that the losses are acknowledged, the other members are considerate and sensitive, and the space provides emotional support and active listening. Researchers have also shown that relying on health care support as early as possible may prevent the development of serious negative health outcomes that can affect other aspects of life.
While finding support in others, taking a lot of time and space to process and take care of oneself can also be nourishing. Whether it is taking daily baths, engaging in a meditative practice, or curating a new routine of some sort, taking time to check in with the mind and body can heighten intimacy with oneself and promote relaxation. In addition, working with a healer, therapist, or loved one to cultivate gratitude can act as a powerful antidote to intensified feelings of hopelessness and despair, although it is important to allow these feelings to surface as they may and express themselves fully. In turn, this can lead to greater awareness of how precious human life is and greater appreciation for the ways in which one is supported.
For those who are in a relationship with someone experiencing motherhood-related loss, it can be helpful to ask open ended questions like “How can I support you? “What can I do for you? and “What would feel soothing in this moment?” Sending well wishes that highlight it’s okay not to be okay can offer moments of love and tenderness while allowing space for the entire experience to exist with freedom. For those who are partners of someone experiencing this loss, patience and compassion are also key to supporting your loved ones in whatever may arise.
Although this experience is challenging, there are ways to navigate the journey with care. It’s helpful to keep in mind that support is available and finding safe spaces is key. Whether it’s being alone, connecting with a loved one, or finding a community - the experience deserves to be processed with gentleness. Experimenting with music, ritual, and reflection can be a helpful place to start, and it’s important to go at your own pace. Trust what you need - and allow yourself the space to be exactly as you are.