Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Ambiguous Loss

My degree taught me much about grief, well beyond the stages.  I have read multiple scholarly publications and chapters in textbooks on grief, but going through the process is completely different.

Something I have often mentioned in connection with adoption is ambiguous loss.  Ambiguous loss is a term that describes so many things, including miscarriage.

I lay on my couch most of the day in constant pain with cramping, and very weak because of bleeding.   Most miscarriages are described as a heavy period.  Not mine.  Contractions, after birth pains, and heavy bleeding (with clotting) is not like my last miscarriage.  It is like when I last gave birth.

Except I don't have a baby to hold.

At times I feel like my grief isn't real.  I am sure that some people do not understand it, thinking that a miscarriage is really nothing, something that happens frequently (which it does).  I mean, it's not like I lost a child.

But I did.  I did lose a child.  I have the pictures to prove it.  Sure the baby wasn't fully formed with two feet,  a round head, a nose, two eyes, and a mouth, but it was my baby--it had a heart beat-- and I gave birth to it.  I went through the  painful contractions and all the icky after birth stuff.

The hardest part is not having a body to place inside a tiny grave.  This is what makes the loss ambiguous.  What can I feel?

Sometime soon, Ben and I will have a small memorial service.  I read about this in one of the many books I have around the house as a possible way to bring closure to this kind of loss.  It will be small and intimate, mirroring our pain.

My appetite is gone these days.  Even chocolate has lost its flavor.  Foods aren't comforting when they don't heal the wound in your heart.

My family brings comfort and so does the Atonement.  Holding my kids, laughing with my husband, praying to Heavenly Father--these are things that bring light to my dark world.  I know that different memories will trigger moments of sorrow and even tears.  Memories associated with this pregnancy and my last pregnancies because my grief has many many layers.  Yet, I don't feel hopeless.  I have faith, much faith, and I know that there is a plan.  But this sorrow is something I will embrace.

Thank you all for your hugs, both virtual and real.  Even though I was frightened to share my pregnancy so early and confused by the impression to do so, I am glad I did.

A week ago I wrote, "I really believe that each of you held me up with your good thoughts, well wishes, and prayers. "  I want to rephrase that.  I really believe that each of you hold me up with your good thoughts, well wishes, and prayers.   Thank you for being here during this difficult time.


  1. We all get different impressions for different reasons, and grieving doesn't look the same for anyone.

  2. I just want to send good wishes and to thank you for your brave and honest words in these last two posts—I know that you are not alone, and it is staggering, in a good way, to see how your authenticity will be here to comfort others just as you know that you are not alone. I have no wisdom for you, I defer to yours—but I do have warmth and admiration for your spirit and for the way you roll. Namaste

  3. Amber, I'm so very sorry for your lose. Your posts are so very heartfelt. I pray that your pain will lessen over time. Heavenly Father knows your pain and would gladly take from you again. Talking about your baby does help.

  4. Thanks for sharing, I was looking around and really like the site.

  5. GG Mel & Papa WaSeptember 11, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    I am so grateful that you chose to share your pregnancy with us even though it was so early on. It seems to me that it would have been so much harder for you to grieve freely if you had kept it a secret! Raising two little kids and caring for your sweet hubby is hard enough without trying to stifle strong feelings of grief at the same time. You'd have to have a heart of stone (and we know you don't!!) xxoo

  6. I am glad that you have your faith (and your family and friends), but especially faith. I imagine that helps.

  7. My deepest condolences on your loss. May you find comfort in each other and your family and friends, and may G-d comfort you at this time. I hope that the memorial service helps. Lots of hugs and love,

  8. If you have never had a miscarriage then you don't appreciate how devastating it is. I admire you for speaking out so bravely about how you are feeling and know that someone somewhere will be helped by reading this, just as I hope it is helping you to grieve and then in time move forward, never forgetting but moving on.

  9. I admire your courage in sharing your grief. It is often the hardest things to do so soon after a heartbreaking loss. Hoping the words you write and share provide you solace in this time. I am so sorry.

  10. Oh honey, it's so raw and intense, isn't it? I'm glad you're putting it into helps a little, when dealing with the why-doesn't-this-feel-real? feeling.

  11. I wish you well as you navigate through your grief. I hope the memorial service helps along the path. We went to one for a still born of my friend last year and it was beautiful. I think it really helped her.

  12. I've been thinking about you. Sending up some prayers!

  13. I so applaud you for your honesty and bravery here. I think it is wonderful that you are able to write about this experience, this unambiguously tragic experience. We are all here and will be.


  14. The memorial service is a great idea. I think that you'll find it helps a lot. I wish I had thought of doing that when I had the miscarriage. Perhaps I would have an easier time dealing with it now, if I had been more open. I have told very few people about it and now, almost 7 months later, it seems silly to bring it up.
    I'm thinking of you and your family every day.

  15. Sometimes we just need something physical to embody the emotional in order to fully appreciate and feel it. I think the memorial service is a good idea.

  16. So sorry for your loss. Grief is something so personal and yet something that needs to be shared. Bless you for sharing your pain and your healing with us.

  17. Amber,
    I have been traveling and moving for the past few weeks and so have only just seen the updates on your blog. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you for sharing your testimony and for being so brave to share your story. I would love to do anything I can for you. Please know I am praying for you and your sweet family.

    love, Steph


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