How to tell children about a miscarriage?
Isn’t it exciting to see those two lines on the pregnancy test being overwhelmed with joy and want to scream it to the world?
For myself, the first few people I wanted to tell was my husband and children. My son was about four years old, and my daughter was only two. I had them come home to a decorated fireplace that had balloons saying, “Oh Baby” and had a onesie, a sign explaining we were having a baby and some candy for my kids to enjoy. My son, who is very intelligent understood what having a baby meant. He was so excited and was jumping around and screaming with happiness. My daughter, who was not aware of this still jumped in and celebrated.
I didn’t realize just one month later; I would have to tell my family the most heart-breaking news. My son came home from school and sat with me on the couch, and I held him while I cried. I explained to him that our baby had passed away due to no longer having a heartbeat. At first, he didn’t understand but I continued to explain that sometimes these things happen and can’t be explained. He seemed to take the news well and I felt it didn’t affect him much. Turns out, I was wrong. For a few weeks, he continued to ask me how the baby was or why it went to heaven. Each time he would ask one of these questions I would immediately start crying and I felt myself shutting down. But I realized that if I did this to myself, he would not get the answers he needed to grieve as well. I started answering his questions which helped me accept the loss as well. To this day, my son asks about our angel baby and even tells me he thinks it was a girl.
As parents, we often do everything in our power to protect our children from sadness and bad news. Unfortunately, there are times when the desire to protect our children can leave them feeling more alone and frightened.
For younger children, it’s important to explain and use concrete words to help them understand and not question the unknown. Emphasize that it’s not their fault and it’s okay to feel sad about missing the baby.
For religious or spiritual families, you can consider a family activity that helps you mourn or celebrate the baby. This could be done by planting a tree, having the kids paint rocks and leaving them in areas they feel at peace, or creating a memorial garden.
Older children, such as preteens, have a better understanding of death and loss which makes it easier to talk to them about. However, they still need to be reassured this is not their fault and that it is okay to express their emotions.
Here are some important things to remember when telling children:
- Don’t dodge questions
- Give brief, simple answers
- Discuss the loss of the baby
- Show your own emotions
- Be honest and clear
- Take care with religious explanations
- Be prepared for a variety of reactions
- Expect the subject to come up again and again
- Do your best to get your child’s life back to a ‘normal’ routine
- Don’t try to be perfect
As a mother, it’s hard processing your own emotions about the loss of a child and then you must carry another weight of telling your children. It can be hard putting on a brave face and you may feel yourself building walls to keep those feelings away. I am here to talk to about these feelings and prevent these walls from going up. We can discuss how your children have reacted to the news, explore your feelings of questions that may keep arising, and healthy ways to let your family help you through this grieving process.
Schedule a consultation by clicking “Schedule an Appointment” today.
Monica Bartley, SWT