Grieving: Natural, Normal, and Necessary

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 into adoption 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, you must deal with grief and not ignore it. For birthmothers, grieving the loss of a placed child isa 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 can not 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 tie 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 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! Contact your agency, adoption attorney, or someone involved in your adoption to see if there is a support group in your area. Or seek out other birthmothers on the internet. Join an online support group or visit support sites.