We have a fresh stack of questions this month. I hope you will be encouraged and helped by our conversations today.
1. Through the grieving process, I’ve lost a lot of friends, but also have been able to see who is willing to stick by my side through it all. I always thought that family would be there no matter what. My husband was struggling with his sister not being there for us; never asking how we are doing or even as far to say that she was thinking of us. He confronted her about it and she responded by saying that she didn’t agree with how we were grieving and didn’t think we should be so public and open about having a stillborn son. We are both so hurt by her response that we aren’t sure how to handle it. How do you explain to someone the way we are grieving is the only way we know how to live, whether it is or isn’t what someone else thinks we should be doing?
Thank you in advance for your consideration and response. I appreciate your response to an earlier question of mine – my father and I are finally able to talk again. I think it helped with the burial of our son. Again, thank you!
You are so welcome – I am so glad that you have found healing in your relationship with your father.
As for your sister-in-law’s response….how devastating to have someone say something like that to you. I would be hurt if someone said that they didn’t agree with how I was grieving, too! But I truly think that her comment was more about what is going on inside of her than ANYTHING to do with you and your husband. Let’s look at this from the perspective of human history: stillbirth is not something that most people easily talk about. Miscarriage is the same way. There’s something “off-limits” about it, taboo, almost. Our society doesn’t do well with death overall, I’d say. I find it concerning that people can dress their children and themselves in skulls and crossbones, yet have no idea how to talk to someone who is actually dealing with the death of a loved one.
In this case, I think you already said it: the way to explain to someone that the way you’re ‘grieving is the only way you know how to’ is the best way to say it. There’s no script for this. There’s no one way to grieve. But here’s the really important part, in my mind: by your outward grieving, you are helping the rest of the world understand what this particular loss is like, and hopefully opening up those doors and eyes of society to the reality of this heart-wrenching grief.
You don’t need your sister-in-law’s approval, but I don’t need to tell you that. Of course her comments hurt, but you just keep doing what you’re doing. You grieve whatever way you need to and don’t let anyone stop you or tell you differently.
2. Do you have any information post-partum depression and grieving after a loss. I am really struggling and I don’t know what is normal. How does a person know if they need help for depression, or if it is just the grieving process?
This is tricky, because depression is generally part of grieving. It’s also commonly part of the post partum process, as you know. And, what we know in the mental health world is that treating grief with antidepressants will often give the grieving person a delayed grieving process. But, you need to function as a person and not go into a terrible downward spiral, too.
My first thought is to have a conversation with your doctor (preferably the doctor who did your OB care) AND a therapist/counselor. Also, if you’re having suicidal or homicidal thoughts, go to one of these people TODAY. If you’re considering treatment, I suggest counseling AND antidepressants together. Research states that this combination offers the best results. If you’re concerned about a delayed grieving, talk to your doctor before starting any medication. It may be that he/she will start you on something at a very low dose. Make sure you write down all your questions before you attend your appointments, so that you don’t forget anything.
Depression affects mood, appetite, sleep, interest in regular activities, causes you to feel bad about yourself, energy – most people are either lethargic or restless, and concentration.
Also, some more “natural” treatments are exercise, Vitamin D (of course, speak with your doctor before beginning any new vitamin/supplement) and Progesterone therapy, something you would also want to discuss with your doctor and this would be specific to post partum depression.
3. With Father’s Day coming up, how can I do something for my husband? He isn’t as emotional as me about our loss, but I know he loved our baby. I want to do something special but don’t know what or how to go about it.
I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to answer this question BEFORE Father’s Day! I think it’s wonderful for you to acknowledge your husband on Father’s Day. I’m sure he’s thinking about the baby you lost, especially on that day. Small, personalized gifts are often very appropriate in situations like this: something with the baby’s name and/or birthdate along with a sentiment about fatherhood…a picture frame, a poem, an engraved item like a necklace he could wear under his shirt. Another special gift might be a tree to plant in your yard, along with a small ornament or marker hanging from it or in the ground next to it… Even something hand made with lots of thought and love would be perfect for this occasion.
If you decided on something, would you be willing to share it with others on Harlynn’s Heart? Would love to know what people did for Father’s Day or Mother’s Day.
Blessings to you all.
If you’d like to submit a question to be answered by Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Heather, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on our Harlynn’s Heart Facebook page. All submissions are treated as anonymous.