by Coley Strickland
Grieving is a natural normal process we go through whenever a loss occurs in our life. Generally speaking, whenever the subjects of grief and loss are mentioned we automatically think of death. Grief as the emotion and grief as the word are usually reserved for death and in association with death.
Death related grief is only one form of grief. Grief, by definition, is mourning a loss. There are many lost moments through out life and we grieve in a sense through all of them. Our grief is different for each different kind of loss.
Although, placing a child into an adoption agreement is a choice, it is still a loss for the birthmother. After carrying a baby for nine months, she entrusts him or her to his adoptive parents and goes home from the hospital heavy hearted and empty handed. It is a loss that involves grief and in order for healing to occur and to move forward in life, you must deal with grief and not ignore it. For birthmothers, grieving the loss of a placed child is a very hard thing, as the child is still alive, just not with them. Some birthmothers do not take the time to grieve and mourn the loss of a placed child. In most cases, it comes back to them later down the road. It is best for birthmothers to allow themselves the right and the opportunity to healthily grieve.
Some typical feelings of grief are denial, disbelief, confusion, shock, sadness, humiliation, despair, and guilt.
- Denial and disbelief ~ You do not deal with the situation. You push the feelings aside and do not want to talk about it or think about it. You try to pretend it never happened. (For our older sisters, this was an enforced response to unplanned pregnancies which resulted in closed adoptions.)
- Confusion and shock ~ Everything still seems very surreal. You cannot believe that your pregnancy is actually over and that your baby has been born. You try to pretend like it never happened.
- Sadness and humiliation ~ You are depressed and are embarrassed about your situation. You feel like you have hit rock bottom.
- Despair and guilt ~ You feel guilty for getting pregnant. You question your decision and your decision making ability.
You are a roller coaster of emotions, sometimes feeling reasonable and the next minute feeling very low. To add to the confusion, your post partum hormones are working their own agenda! What can you do to cope? You have to deal with your emotions and feelings on a day to day basis. You will be ok! You have to find the tricky balance between allowing yourself time to grieve while at the same time trying to begin getting your life back together and move forward.
A few ideas on how to cope with grief and loss are:
- Maintain contact with supportive friends and family. Now is not the time to have negative people in your corner, so avoid those who do not agree laura san giacomo pokies with your decision and loudly make it known. Talk with your friends and family when you are feeling down.
- Express your emotions. Do not keep your feelings bottled up inside. Talk with someone you are close to. Write in a journal. If you are angry, hit your pillow or scream. If you are upset, it is ok to let yourself cry. Get it out.·
- Take care of yourself Be sure to follow up with post-pregnancy doctors’ visits as well as eat regularly, drink plenty of fluids, and get plenty of rest. Now is not the time to be slacking on taking care of yourself. Your physical health also influences your mental health.
- Join a support group or seek out other birthmothers. Having others who have made it past the post-partum stage of adoption for support and encouragement is very important for the morale. You need to hear, “You can do it.” If they made it, so can you!
The time period immediately following relinquishment is the hardest, with most birth mothers agreeing that the first year is the toughest. For that first year, every monthly birthday is a reminder. Mother’s Day, the first birthday, and holidays are all a little different now. You learn to know which occasions will make you feel a little more down than usual and you can prepare for them. For monthly birthdays, you could plan something with a friend one month so you are not alone and then the next month, spend some time alone reflecting and healing. Learn to fore see the weaker moments and prepare for them. When you are feeling down and need a quick little “pick me up” to take your mind off of things, here are a few suggestions to try:
- Take a long walk. The fresh air will do you good.
- Rent your favorite movie. This is something familiar to you and will make you feel safe but will also take your mind off of things.
- If you believe in God, pray. Talking with God always makes things better.
- Take a nap. If things have you down and you are not getting enough sleep, napping is a very good coping strategy.
- Write in a journal. You can do this the old fashioned way with pen and paper or create an online blog.
- Scrapbook. Make a scrapbook for your birth child with pictures, songs, stories, quotes, etc in it for your child when they are older.
- Make something or do something with your hands. Make a cake or cookies or create a small craft project.
Grieving is a very real part of being a birthmother. Many times, people try to overlook it or discount it. But, it is natural, normal, and necessary. For most birthmothers, the first year of birthmotherhood is the toughest. Your daily life will brighten again. Placing a child is a life altering event and you will never be the same, although you can move forward and begin to heal.