Surprising 10 Miscarriage Facts Every Woman Should Know

Miscarriage is common, but because many women never talk about it after the fact, misconceptions abound.

Miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy that occurs within the first 20 weeks. Even though miscarriage, also known as spontaneous abortion, is common, many women have misconceptions about it, doctors say. And many women who have a had a miscarriage simply don’t talk about it.

After a miscarriage, most women have another pregnancy and a healthy child.

One exception to keeping a low profile was the announcement in 2015 by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, that they were expecting a baby and had previously experienced three miscarriages. Doctors applauded their openness, reasoning that the more women know, the better equipped they are to handle the loss should they experience their own miscarriage.

Here are eight miscarriage facts every woman should know:

 1. Miscarriage Is Common

“It’s much more common than you think,” says Siobhan Dolan, MD, MPH, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and women’s health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, and a medical adviser to the March of Dimes.

While the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimates that 10 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, the actual number is probably higher, Dr. Dolan says.

“A lot of them happen before women realize they’re pregnant,” says Sarah Prager, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the family planning division at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. “I tell women they’re very common, and potentially up to a third of women will experience a miscarriage at some point in their lives.”

With age, the risk goes up, notes ACOG.

2. Bleeding and Cramping Are Miscarriage Symptoms

In fact, they’re among the most common symptoms, according to ACOG. In early pregnancy, you may experience a small amount of both bleeding and cramping; you should get checked by your doctor if either happens.

When you have these symptoms during pregnancy, your doctor will do a physical exam and may order an ultrasound, as well as blood tests to measure hormone levels, before making a definitive diagnosis.

3. Post-Miscarriage, You Have Treatment Options

After a miscarriage, you can choose from the following three treatment approaches, which are all equally effective, according to ACOG:

  • One option is to wait and let the pregnancy tissue that remains in your uterus pass naturally. This may take up to two weeks, ACOG says.
  • Another option is to take a medication under the guidance of your ob/gyn called Cytotec (misoprostol), which helps to expel the tissue within one week.
  • A third is dilation and curettage (D&C) — surgery to remove the tissue — which may be advisable if your bleeding is heavy or an infection is suspected.

Dr. Prager helped to develop the updated recommendations on early pregnancy loss for ACOG that were released in April 2015. Of the three methods, she says, “They’re all equivalent enough and safe enough that as long as the patient doesn’t have a contraindication [a medical reason not to do it] for one of the methods, it should be based on what she wants to do.”

4. You Don’t Need Any Special Tests After a Single Miscarriage

According to Dolan, it’s typically not necessary to do tests and evaluations at this point. “Only after two or more miscarriages does the risk of a future miscarriage increase,” Prager agrees. After two, she says, there’s an increased risk, but it’s not significantly higher from a statistical point of view. Only after three miscarriages does the risk rise to a significant level, she says.

After several pregnancy losses, your doctor may advise testing and evaluation to try to pinpoint problems that are hampering the progression of a healthy pregnancy.

5. Feelings of Guilt Are Expected After a Miscarriage

Women tend to beat themselves up needlessly after a miscarriage, according to Dolan and Prager, saying things like, “If only I had taken that prenatal vitamin sooner,” or “If only I hadn’t exercised so strenuously.”

According to ACOG, ”Working, exercising, having sex, or having used birth control pills before getting pregnant do not cause early pregnancy loss.” In addition, women sometimes think that a fall, blow, or having a fright caused the miscarriage. In most cases, according to ACOG, this is not true.

“Most of the time, there’s nothing a woman could have done differently to change the outcome of her pregnancy if she has a miscarriage,” Prager says.

Many miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, Prager says. She tells women that a miscarriage is often the body’s way of correcting what wasn’t going to be a healthy pregnancy.

6. Grieving After a Miscarriage Is Normal and Healthy

“Women should take time to process that loss,” Dolan says, and so should their partners. Prager tells women and their partners, “It’s really normal to grieve, even if it’s very early” in the pregnancy, because you may have already begun to bond with the unborn baby.

Experts agree that grieving the loss is very natural. “Conversely,” Prager says, “some women can be relieved if they weren’t planning the pregnancy.” And that’s perfectly normal, too.

7. Partners May Grieve a Miscarriage in Different Ways

Both partners may grieve after a miscarrige, though possibly for different periods of time and in different ways, says Prager.

“Women may grieve longer,” she says, adding that she always offers the option of seeing a social worker or other mental health professional if a woman is having trouble.

8. Most Women Who Miscarry Can Get Pregnant Again

Most women who have a miscarriage do go on to become pregnant again and have a healthy child, Dolan says. She tells women, “You may not get to the outcome [of a healthy baby] tomorrow. But keep in mind you will probably get there. The end is achievable for most women and most families.”


beauty girl cry

Special Therapy May Help ‘Complicated Grief’

Standard depression treatment is less successful after a loved one dies, study finds

For people mired in grief after a loved one’s death, a specially designed therapy may work better than a standard treatment for depression, a new study finds.

Image result for grief

The debilitating condition, known as complicated grief, is often mistaken for depression, but is a different problem altogether, researchers say. Sufferers from complicated grief have intense yearning and longing for the person who died that doesn’t lessen over time.

“They have difficulty comprehending the reality of the death,” said lead researcher Dr. M. Katherine Shear, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University School of Social Work.

“They are caught up in thinking about the person who died, sometimes daydreaming about them,” said Shear, who is also director of the Center for Complicated Grief in New York City. They may blame themselves for the death and avoid doing things or going places they shared, Shear said.

These feelings interrupt the natural healing process that gets most people beyond acute grief, she said.

About 9 percent of bereaved older women will suffer from complicated grief, according to background information with the study. Sometimes the grief resolves on its own, but if not treated, it can lead to serious health problems, Shear said.

Shear says her study — published Sept. 24 online in JAMA Psychiatry — demonstrated that people with complicated grief benefit from a specially designed treatment.

More than 150 older adults suffering from complicated grief were assigned to get treatment targeted to the condition or a depression treatment called interpersonal psychotherapy.

Symptoms improved in 70 percent of those getting the targeted treatment compared to about one-third receiving depression treatment, the study found.

Both complicated grief and depression involve tremendous sadness, but the hallmark of depression is the inability to have positive feelings, Shear said.

“Grief is the form love takes after someone dies,” Shear said. “It has a lot of positive emotions.”

In treatment for complicated grief, people are asked to visualize the loved one’s death and tell the story of what happened, she explained. The story is recorded and patients are asked to listen to the tape at home.

“That’s a very emotionally activating exercise,” Shear said.

Reliving the death “jump-starts the process of coming to terms with the death,” Shear said.

People are also asked to identify things they avoid for fear they’ll be reminded of their loss, and start doing those things, Shear explained.

“The goal of the therapy is to get grief back on track,” Shear said. “We are not trying to achieve a remission of grief. We are trying to free grief to find its rightful place in our lives.”

Cheryl Edwards, a spokeswoman for the American Counseling Association, said other strategies can help relieve complicated grief.

People suffering from complicated grief fear forgetting their loved one, she said. “They start to forget their smell or the sound of their voice, and that creates more depression and anxiety.”

It’s important to record these memories and collect items associated with the loved one, but not to create a shrine, Edwards said.

People suffering from complicated grief also need to refocus their energy. “We have to help them find a reason, a purpose, and a new direction that they can take,” Edwards said.

The patients in Shear’s study were mostly women, with an average age of 66. The median time since the loss of the loved one was 3.2 years.

After 16 weekly treatment sessions, severity of the condition remained among 35 percent of those who received complicated grief therapy, while about 64 percent of those treated for depression remained moderately ill, the researchers found.

Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said complicated grief isn’t officially recognized as a psychological disorder. “Some controversy still exists about exactly how and when it should be diagnosed,” said Rego.

Still, Rego said, “mental health providers, especially those working with elderly patients who are widowed or bereaving another close relationship, would be wise to assess for complicated grief and either treat it or refer patients to a colleague who does this work.”


The Grief I Feel After a Miscarriage Doesn’t Fit Any Category

woman on the windowsill looking out the window

After losing of our daughter, I feel so alone and separate from the world. I find myself searching through miscarriage articles on the internet, Facebook and Instagram just so I may feel less disassociated from society.

It helps.  

I can relate to most of them. I understand the devastation, confusion, anger, denial and isolation these women feel. When I read the words of women who express hope, I pray that the same hope will leap off the screen and fill my heart, but it still has yet to happen.

In fact, the grief process itself feels apart from me. Will the future me look back and see distinct “steps” of grief? “Oh, July through September. Yeah, I was in the anger stage — definitely!” The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. My grief doesn’t seem to fit into any such category. Maybe that’s due to the trauma of it all.

It was three days before the gender-reveal party when we found out our child had a genetic disorder. For two days, my husband and I cried in bed. Little did we know that this was just the beginning of our grief.

A brave mother of a child with Down syndrome said that after receiving the same diagnosis with her child, she also grieved for her child because society is unaccepting. But with great love, she was going to change the world for her daughter. We could do that, too! “I am a behavior therapist,” I thought to myself, “I can do this.”

About a week later, I was at a high-risk appointment to get an amniocentesis. During the ultrasound, I knew something wasn’t right. The tech spent a lot of time taking measurements of the nuchal fold and nervously talked to us the entire time. He excused himself to find the doctor, and 10 minutes later the doctor walked in and delivered the news. Our baby did, in fact, have trisomy 21, but it didn’t stop there. Along with a genetic disorder, there was a very large tumor behind her neck. She had fetal hydrops, and I had too much fluid in my placenta. The diagnosis and severity of it all gave our daughter little chance at life. I cannot begin to describe what it feels like to walk in with hope and leave an appointment feeling traumatized, devastated and helpless. 

We lost our daughter at 17 weeks into pregnancy. When a woman gives birth, her womb empties, but her arms and heart become full. For women like me, we are just empty. And to make what is already a tragic event worse, those around you either say rather silly statements like, “You will have another when the time is right” and “Focus on your health,” or they don’t know what to say and simply flee. For some people, they cannot be friends with people who go through tragedies. And they disappear.

I am forced to watch my friends who are pregnant grow while I still bear a bloated but empty stomach and enlarged breasts. 12 weeks later I have nothing growing in me. I am forced to watch baby announcements, but I can’t share with the world that I just lost mine. It is harder when people say to me, “Wow, you’re still so small!” I am forced to bring new mommies and daddies food for their “meal train,” but no one brought us food. We are tired, too. Our lives have changed, too.

So we — the parents who knew our babies inside us — are fumbling in the dark in isolation because the community around us values “happy posts,” and they may be too scared to be on the front line of pain.



Filling in the Gaps for a Grieving Child

Hand drawn animated man feeling bored

I just clicked the “end” button on the phone and threw it clear across the room as hard as I could. I watched with immense satisfaction as it shattered into pieces and fell into a pile. It was a costly lapse of self-discipline and not a moment I’d typically revel in, but it felt so damn good to let out some of the pent up anger.

I gritted my teeth as I finished up a call from the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. It was their fourth “3-month wait list follow-up” call. They were calling to let me know they are still looking for a match for my son. They wanted to make sure we were still in need of their services. Much to my dismay, I had to tell them yes.

It’s officially been a year since my youngest son begged me for someone, anyone, just for him, “to hang out with and make him feel special.” We’ve just gotten through the second anniversary of the startling loss of my husband. Of our three children, my youngest son has undoubtedly had the most difficult time coping without his father.

One day my son overheard as another widow suggested the Big Brothers program to me, and he asked if I would please call and get him a big brother. At first, I was skeptical about sending my young and vulnerable son away on outings with a complete stranger, but after looking into the program, I figured we would give it a try and be prepared to abandon the idea the moment it no longer felt right. 

What I didn’t realize at the time, before my son became so emotionally attached to this idea of having a magical big brother, was that there aren’t enough volunteers for this organization. The program requires that a certain amount of time be spent with the “Little” and at least a one-year commitment that the “Big” won’t move or become unavailable to the child. Understandably, not too many people fit the bill, but I never expected to be waiting for a match a year later.

In my wildest dreams, I never supposed I would need a Big Brother for my kids. Especially given that, even though I was young and naïve, I always knew I had chosen the best potential father for my children I ever imagined would cross my path. Even after the stunning death of my husband, I still didn’t think I would ever be in search of a complete and total stranger to fill this role in their lives. That’s because in the immediate aftermath, like most widows, I was reassured over and over with each tearful hug that they’d “be there for us, for anything we needed, any time of day, always here.” Well, as it turned out “always” only lasted a few weeks.

While looking around during my husband’s memorial services, surrounded by hundreds of genuinely loving people, I felt reassured at that moment that I might be able to do this, that my kids and I would have that support for a lifetime. Well, it all goes away, and I’m not quite sure why it goes away, but it’s a sad fact that has been confirmed by every widow with whom I’ve ever had the discussion. I don’t believe it’s intentional, and it’s certainly not malicious, but as we struggle through each painful day, naturally, people just go on with their lives. I’m sure everyone has their reasons, but no matter the reason, it feels awful.

I’m angry about it. Actually, I’m furious about it. Eventually, my daughter and oldest son might ask for someone, and when the times comes, I guess we will add their names to the waitlist. The thought infuriates me.

I can only imagine my husband watching over us, as I know he always is. I imagine it’s painful for him as he sees us struggle, watching as I try my best to fill in the gaps, and seeing his son beg for that special bond he was so honored to share with him. I shudder to think what his thoughts are as all those people he loved are able to enjoy their lives, going on about their business as if nothing ever happened. It’s mind-boggling that I have to call an organization to hunt for a stranger to fill these shoes when there are so many able and capable people who could be stepping up and stepping in. 

If you are reading this and you are aware of a child who is hurting, it doesn’t matter the reason they are hurting, please don’t be too busy, or afraid or too uncomfortable to step into that child’s life and make a difference. On behalf of my husband, I beg you. You never know the difference a few hours a month could make for a child. If you don’t have kids in your life who need your help, consider calling your local mentoring program and find a kid that needs you. Sadly, I happen to know; there are too many waiting.



In Grief: Aversion to Thoughts Of “Acceptance” and “Moving On

Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it. ~ Michael J. Fox

This just isn’t something I can live with. I want to see my dad more than anything in the world. I can’t even go near the words “closure” or “accept.” My friend, who never lost anyone, even a pet, in her life, told me in a matter-of-fact, cheery voice, “You gotta get over it, right? Pick yourself up. Go out and live life. Your dad would have wanted you to be out there, I bet.” I almost hung up on her. I know she meant well, but I was so upset by that.
My own reaction surprised me and I felt awful (but I never mentioned it to her–I knew she meant well). What? Force myself to live? Force myself to go dancing, socialize? I’m lucky I can stand and walk around the house. She has no idea how painful the images of him are in my mind, his suffering, his sad eyes, the little noises he made. I’m really thinking I’m a lost cause. This isn’t something I can live with. Every second I’m fading. I have a huge aversion to any thought of moving on, healing, closure, acceptance, acknowledgment, etc. All I know is this pain, and my insides feel so uncomfortable in this body now. I feel physically ill. I don’t even want to be here anymore.

My response: You are not alone in feeling “a huge aversion to any thought of moving on, healing, closure, acceptance, acknowledgement, etc.” Most of us mourners have trouble with words like “acceptance,” because in truth the death of our loved ones will never, ever be “acceptable” to us. If these particular words bother you, try substituting words like “reconciliation” and “integration,” and understand that it takes a lot of time and a lot of hard work to get to that point in your own grief journey.

As you are discovering, there is no shortcut through the minefield of grief work. We must experience the heartbreak of grief, lean into it, and embrace it fully before it begins to loosen its grip and the pain begins to ease. If you’ve read any accounts by others who’ve been on this grief journey for any length of time (such as those you’ll find in the Loss of a Parent forum in our Grief Healing Discussion Groups), you know that they have worked very, very hard to get to the place where they are now, and just like you, they sometimes felt as if they would drown and never make it to shore.

Many of them are further along than you are now, so their perspective has changed over time ~ but I hope their voices of experience will give you hope and faith as you continue on your own grief journey: the kind of hope that says, “If they can make it through this, so can I” and the kind of faith that says “I believe I can survive this loss, and I will find a way to heal.”

Trust that, with the understanding, compassion, and support you’ll find here and elsewhere, you will heal, but in a way and in a time frame that are unique to you. Always keep in mind that this is an individual journey. Others are here to listen, to help, to guide, to suggest, to share what worked for us. But we are not you, and comparing yourself with others or judging your journey against anyone else’s will not help you heal. Grief is universal, but the way we handle it is unique to each of us, and there is no right or wrong way to go down this road.

You say that this just isn’t something you can live with. Take comfort in knowing that whatever it is that you are feeling now, this, too, will pass. Difficult as they are to endure, the feelings you describe so vividly (impatience with your friends; yearning for your father; wishing you could be together again; feeling as if you can make it one moment, only to be drowning in sorrow and desperation the next) are all normal.

You say you feel physically ill, uncomfortable in your own skin, unwilling to go on. Even as you may wish your father is away and could come back to you , you cannot stop the pain of missing him, because a part of you knows the brutal truth. Even though you know in your head that your father’s death is real, your heart does not want it to be so. Everything in you is begging for a different ending to this tragic story. That is the internal struggle we all face as we come to terms with the reality of loss. In her book, A Woman’s Book of Grieving , Nessa Rapoport describes it perfectly in this poignant poem:

Undo it, take it back,
make every day the previous one
until I am returned to the day
before the one that made you gone.
Or set me on an airplane traveling west,
crossing the date line again and again,
losing this day, then that,
until the day of loss still lies ahead,
and you are here instead of sorrow.

Your development as a person is forever changed as a result of your father’s death. Working to assimilate this loss into your life is what we refer to as the hard work of grief, as you continue to find your way through the mourning process. Your goal ~ the goal of everyone who’s suffered a significant loss ~ is to find an appropriate place in your own inner, emotional world for your loved one who has died, so that you can take the legacy he has left you with you into your own future. When you lose someone you love, you will never be the same as you were before. But within every sorrowful situation, growth is possible.

Over time you learn that although a part of you has died, another part is being reborn, making you stronger and more capable. If you can find growth from this loss, your life will be richer for having known your father, for having experienced his death, and for finding your way through this most difficult of life’s lessons.

Even as you continue to mourn the loss of your father’s physical presence, remember that his essence has not disappeared, and you can still find ways to maintain your loving connection with him. For example, you can hold onto possessions he treasured, share stories about him, feel his presence, talk with him, and carry out rituals that you and your mother associate with him. And do whatever you can to preserve your memories of him. In his lovely book, Love Lives On: Learning from the Extraordinary Encounters of the Bereaved, Louis LaGrand offers several suggestions for imprinting and maintaining powerful memories.

I don’t know what else you’ve been doing to help yourself get through this, but I believe very strongly that knowledge is power, and the more you know about the subject of normal grief, the better you are able to understand and manage your own reactions. I suggest that you go on the Internet and find and read some of the excellent books and articles written on the subject of loss and transition.

I also believe that the work of grief should not be done alone. I don’t know where you live, but I urge you to think seriously about joining a bereavement support group in your community or talking with a grief counselor. Try contacting your local church, hospital, hospice, or mortuary to see whatgrief support is available to you. If you cannot find a face-to-face support group, consider joining our online Grief Healing Discussion Groups, which functions as a virtual support group. When traveling this road becomes too difficult, you’ll find this to be a safe place where you can stop and rest for a while. There is always someone there, willing to sit with you and hold your hand until you feel ready to pick up and keep going. We will not leave you alone on this journey.



8 Things Grieving People Wish You Knew

You can never truly know the grief of another human being. But there are things you can do to help them deal with the pain.

When the people we love the most—our friends, family, and loved ones—grieve, our first instinct is to help them. Often, we rush to word or deed, failing to stop and consider the very personal, nuanced nature of grief. Other times, we remain silent, hoping that the absence of reminders will allow the grief to slip away.

Both routes can only drive the hurt deeper.

We must consider the person behind the pain, and the nature of their grief before we speak. We must also accept that nothing we can offer will take that grief away. Even the most perfectly worded condolence will not change what has happened to them. Forget that notion.

You’re there to let them know they’re not alone. You’re there to hurt with them.

To help you comfort your grieving loved ones in the best way possible, let’s get an inside look at grief by going through 8 things grieving people wish you knew.


Their Loss is Uniquely Theirs

Everyone experiences and reacts to emotional pain differently. Many of us think that we can know someone’s particular brand of grief because we have experienced something similar, or know someone who went through the same turmoil. The unfortunate fact is: every instance of grief is unique.

The desire to connect is strong when we’re comforting a saddened loved one, but we must be sensitive about making assumptions about their loss. Perhaps you often find yourself using phrases like, “I know how much this hurts”.

Don’t—because you don’t know. One of the difficulties of being human lies in man’s inability to know man. We simply cannot live within someone else’s head.

For example, you may have lost a parent, and had to go through the grieving process in order to come to terms with your loss. Perhaps you had a wonderful relationship with your deceased parent, and you love to hear others speak of him or her. Now imagine that your friend has also lost a parent. Perhaps their parent, though, was abusive, and their memories are traumatic and negative. The two of you may have experienced a similar loss, but will be feeling very different things, and will be comforted in very different ways.

Pay attention to the individual behind the grief, and be sensitive to their uniqueness. They’ll find much greater comfort in your presence.

Comparing Pain isn’t Helpful

Don’t compare pain. Let me say that again. Do not compare pain. A grieving person’s grief, as we’ve learned, is unique—to compare their pain to that of others can feel trivializing to the grieving individual.

Rather, let the conversation rest on the grieving person. Talk about him or her, and, if appropriate, what they’ve lost.

Most destructive of all is the habit of trying to help someone feel better by citing some grief or loss that is “worse” than theirs. An example of this would be telling someone who just lost their job that you once lost your job and your house and your wife divorced you afterward. You might think that this would put their grief into perspective, and that they’ll think “Well, I guess my situation isn’t so bad,” but that’s not the case.

Bringing up some greater grief only makes them feel unheard and trivialized. There is greater grief in the world—yes—but right now, this individual grief is what’s important. Let your grieving loved one know how important they are by avoiding pain comparisons

They Don’t Need You to Fix Them

Seeing someone you love experiencing grief is incredibly difficult. Sometimes, that difficulty becomes such that we almost can’t help trying to “fix” the problem, which usually translates into trying to fix the grieving. We want the conversation to end with a smile or a revelation, or with the first baby steps of recovery tearfully taken.

But this isn’t want they want from you.

Sometimes people need to wrestle. They need to get down in the muck of their pain and take it on, themselves. Offering comfort isn’t about fixing those who are grieving, but rather about accepting their grief and how they choose to process it.

It’s okay to allow for unresolved grief and inner conflict. You don’t have to fix it all—let that be a load off your shoulders rather than a source of anxiety.

Join your grieving loved one in their grieving process. If they invite you to help them resolve the issue, or if they begin exhibiting unhealthy coping mechanisms, by all means, intervene. Otherwise, though, accept their grief. They’ll heal more quickly for it.
people tired man

They Need to Take Their Time

Grieving is a marathon, not a sprint.

There are many things you’ll want to address with a grieving loved one. You’ll be tempted to verbally go right to their rescue, perhaps even on the day of their loss.

But this isn’t the time to start talking things through. Wait on that. In the beginning, allow yourself to be satisfied in simply being a companion at the outset of their grief journey. The discussions and reflection and thought will come later.

For example, telling someone that they’re “doing so well,” for having so recently lost something precious to them puts pressure on them to quickly live up to this praise. This will make the grieved feel as if there is something wrong with them for taking so long to process and experience their pain.

Give them your time and your ear, but wait on the majority of your words. That will come.


It’s Not Personal; it’s Pain

Nothing is more hurtful to a grieving individual than having a friend or family member turn on them.

As difficult as it may be to believe, this happens. Someone goes through a traumatic experience, only to find that, as they grieve, someone is offended that they were not consulted or included in the grieving process. Just as bad is when someone seeks attention for what they’re doing to help the grieved individual, or vocally requires credit for their deeds.

It can be easy to resent the attention that a grieving person receives, but please—resist this. If you feel such resentment growing, take your leave. Get away from the situation—this is the best thing you can do for your grieving loved one, if this is the case.

If you find most of your sentences beginning with variations of “I,” try to steer the conversation back to your grieved loved one. And hold off your own stories of personal triumph over pain until invited to share. But above all, become offended and belligerent at their pain, at the attention they receive, or at how they choose to process their grief. It’s not personal. It’s pain.

After all, one day, this may be you. Will you want someone to resent you for your pain? No—so please examine your intentions before you try to help your grieving loved one.


Listening is the Best Give You Can Give

Listening is a learned art rather than the automatic process many think it is.

True listening involves more than hearing. It’s interpreting what you hear. It’s thinking about what the other individual in the conversation just said rather than constantly focusing on what you wish to say—it’s about them, not you, remember?

But don’t stop there. Validate what you hear. Receive their words with grace, and let the grieved speaker know that you value their emotions, and that what they’re feeling is okay. Ensure that you’re a safe place for them, a companion who will validate rather than criticize or fix them.

Don’t feel the need to fill up awkward silences. They’re not awkward! A grieving person has to slowly process what they’re feeling, and simply having someone present for that process is often enough to help them feel like they’re not alone. Allow for silence in a conversation with someone who is in great pain.

Listening skills are the most valuable thing you can give someone who is grieving. Do your best to give it to them.


Why grief can be a gift from God

Universally, grief is seen as something that we wouldn’t want to experience, but it’s something that no one can escape. We all have experienced a certain level of grief caused by loss whether a loved one, a business gone bad or a pet.

As painful and undesirable as grief may feel and seem, imagine what life would actually be without it. Imagine that you lose a family member and everyone is just staring at each other during the funeral not knowing what to feel and how to express thoughts on the value of that loved one.

All feelings are from God, yes even anger and grief. The problem sometimes is that as broken and hurt sinners, we don’t know how to put it into its proper use. Having a right perspective of grief takes a long time to figure out and we might never even be able to fully understand it, but we can come as close as we possibly can so we understand that grief can actually be a blessing.

Grief teaches us to direct our trust to a more firm foundation

Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Left to feelings and emotions alone, we will forever feel hopeless and exhausted and that doesn’t just go for grief.

Our trust can never be fully put in emotions because they can often easily mislead and deceive. We need our hope to be founded on the rock that is Jesus Christ so that we find hope and everlasting joy and peace even in the midst of devastating loss.

Grief teaches us to appreciate what has come and look forward to the future

The best companions of grief are gratitude and hope. We can be thankful for what God has allowed us to experience with people, things and ventures in the past and be hopeful and excited for the glory that is to come both in this life and in the next.

Just as Pauls says in Philippians 3:13-14: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

To forget the past doesn’t mean to remove the past of all memory and value, but rather to forget the hopelessness and to strain now towards the hope and glory we now have because of what our Lord has done.



Couple in a Hole Grief, loss and self-punishment

In "Couple in a Hole", Karen and John are a couple living isolated in the Pyrenees, dealing with the loss of their child.

By Mayalani Moes

What must it be like to live ompletely isolated and alone from the rest of society? More precisely, to live in a forest, in a cave-like form? This is a life we can scarcely imagine. A life that we, from Western society, do not want to imagine.

To some it may sound like a form of paradise, to be cut off from any human contact and technology, to possibly find oneself in the midst of nature. However, making that our sole way of living is not in our intent.

“Couple in a Hole” (2015) is Tom Geens’ second feature film, and claims its three time title of the “Hitchcock Awards” (Golden Hitchcock, Hitchcock for Best Screenplay, Hitchcock of the Public).

In the film, a Scottish couple, Karen and John (played by Kate Dickie and Paul Higgins), is leading such a life in the Pyrenees. However, the film quickly reveals that they are not living in a hole because they want to but because they feel the deep need to do so–indeed, their son Mark died prior to the film’s storyline.

The film begins with a beautiful shot of filtered sun rays shining through the trees down to us. This is followed by a slow tilt, bringing us into the middle of breathtaking nature. We see a rabbit fleeing from something/someone. We are now introduced to John. Seconds later the rabbit is being prepared for dinner in a dark environment where we are then introduced to Karen, John’s wife.


Geen heavily relies on the element of nature. A lot of establishing shots and long shots are used here to mark the evident isolation and loneliness Karen and John are experiencing, a “sauvage” life.

The contrast between alienation and society is apparent when Geen decides to film a plane flying over the forest, John looking up to it and quietly watching it pass by. This is the first moment we understand that John might not want to live the life he’s living with his wife. Indeed, very quickly it becomes clear that Karen is suffering from a form of agoraphobia.

Karen decides to leave her hole, her safe-haven, when John asks her to come out and enjoy the rain with him. This moment is ruined when Karen gets bitten by a spider, sending her crawling back into her hole.

This chain of events shows that she is still unable to cope with the real world, to understand what happened to her son, to face the future.

A feeling of claustrophobia

It is true that the films’ soundtrack heavily reminds us of Alfred Hitchcock’s work. The tone of the music is very fast-paced, constrained, but also entails a notable element of claustrophobia.

The last ten minutes of the film’s score progressively intensifies in this way, giving the film an overall cold layer. Evidently, this does not change until the end, which leaves the audience in a somewhat chilly and blank state when the credits start rolling.

“Couple in a Hole” certainly is not like any other film; it outlines a predicament in which no parent will ever want to find themselves. Dickie’s and Higgins’ performances certainly embody a very believable and real aftermath of what might happen if parents lose their child.