The experience of reproductive loss is a difficult and stressful one physically and mentally. Sometimes the circumstances surrounding this type of loss can result in disenfranchised or more complicated grief, something that requires extra support or mental health care.
Complicated and disenfranchised grief can develop when the loss is not publicly mourned or acknowledged the way an elder persons death would. It can occur when the relationship with the deceased is not recognized, or assumptions are made about how the loss has impacted person grieving. These factors are closely related to the nature of reproductive loss.
For many, pregnancy is the culmination of a dream for a family; it is a significant stage in a woman’s life and is generally a psychologically vulnerable time. Losing an unborn child means losing this dream, a role as a mother as well as expectations for the future.
Secrecy and privacy surrounding the early stages of pregnancy can complicate a woman’s need to grieve and express her feelings around her loss. Perhaps your immediate family and friends never knew of your pregnancy and are not able to understand or provide the support you may need.
Miscarriage is a moderately common experience with one in four pregnancies ending within the first trimester. This statistic can be invalidating for many couples, feeling like their loss was minimized or their experience was not treated in a more sensitive manner. Women and their partners may have experienced immense closeness with their unborn, yet have few or no immediate experiences to reflect upon or remember their life.
How can Art Therapy support you?
Art Therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process and art materials to identify and explore your emotional needs. It can be a flexible alternative to traditional counselling and talk therapies. No artistic background or technical skill is necessary to participate in art therapy.
Creativity can connect you to the natural processes that take place on a biological, emotional, mental and spiritual level. This creative engagement encourages a healthy flow of energy allowing you to release, tolerate or make space for the stressful or difficult emotions you may be experiencing.
Emotions may arise at different intensities and at different times throughout the grieving process. Art therapy offers an outlet to express these feelings at varying levels with a range of art materials adding to your experience.
Establishing a ritual in the wake of reproductive loss is an effective way for coping and healing. Ritual through art therapy is an optimal way for remembering and maintaining a connection with your loss.
Art making and working within the creative process allows you to think and act in a way you could not from an ordinary standpoint. There may not even be words to describe your feelings or experiences, the arts offer a whole other language for expression that may better meet your needs.