Elizabeth Kübler-Ross was a psychiatrist who studied death and loss and how grief affects others. She published a book called “On Death and Dying” in which she presented her theory on grief. She stated that not every stage must be felt and that all people experience grief differently. Also, these 5 stages are not the only feelings that can be felt by someone who is grieving. Kübler-Ross originally developed this model based on her observations of people suffering from terminal illness. She later expanded her theory to apply to any form of catastrophic personal loss: such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or income, any major rejection, the end of a relationship, divorce, drug addiction, incarceration, the onset of a chronic illness, disease, infertility diagnosis, a major disaster or even small losses. The model is not linear, meaning that not everyone experiences these emotions in any specific order. One can also go back and forth between stages.
I’ve known of this model for quite some time but I had never applied it to my own life. But since our miscarriage I have felt myself going back and forth between the stages.
Stages of Grief
1. Denial: I was almost certain that the Dr. had mixed up my results with someone else’s results and I was still pregnant. That is, until my period came. And when my period came and it wasn’t as “significant” that the doc had made it sound I was convinced that I still had a baby in there.
2. Anger: This is my favorite one. This has been my go-to emotion so that I don’t have to feel all the sadness inside. I am angry at God for allowing this to happen. I am angry at Josh for not believing we can conceive naturally. I am angry at the doctor and at the embryologist because this somehow has to be their fault. I am angry at every person who said that we would have a baby and that it was just a matter of time. I was angry at my Mom for asking me how I was doing and for putting other things on my plate that I felt I didn’t need. I was angry at friends for telling me they were sorry. I am angry at friends for not saying anything to me or even acknowledging it. I was angry at people telling me it was God’s plan (which is still one of the most insensitive things I’ve ever heard). I am angry that I’m the one getting the “sad look” (head tilted to the side, lips pursed together in a frowny direction). Most of all I am angry at myself and my body. I am angry at myself for getting my hopes up, I am angry for being so freakin positive, I am also angry for being so negative at times. I am angry that I always said to myself, “Once I am pregnant it will be here to stay, I’m not one of those people who miscarries.” I look back now and hate that naive, judgmental idiot.
3. Bargaining: If I had a dollar for every time that I thought, “If I wouldn’t have painted the house right before the cycle started.” “If I would’ve taken off work and rested more.” “If we would have just done IVF a year or two ago when we were told to.” Or even worse, “If I just would’ve prayed more or had more faith in God I’d be almost 2 months pregnant right now.”
4. Depression: The can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t even move kind of depression. The depression that evokes tears just because the lady at Aerie was really friendly to me when I was searching for underwear. Now I know that the decrease in HcG and hormones can cause this kind of depression just after a miscarriage but I cry about everything now. The most depressing part about having a miscarriage at 4-5 weeks (besides losing a baby) is the fact that not many even call it a baby. Josh’s grandmother has been the first and only person to even call it a baby. If any of you want to know the perfect thing to say to me, then repeat what she said to me: “I’m so sorry about your baby.” That is perfect. I didn’t even know that’s what I wanted to hear until I heard it. You don’t get to have a funeral for a 4-5 week old baby, no one sends you flowers, cards or casseroles. There are no memories to talk about and no pictures to see. All I know was that one week I was nauseated all day, every day and then it was just gone. You still have to go to work everyday and go about your routine like nothing happened. When your world is crashing down all around you.
5. Acceptance: To be continued…
I do just want to note that some of my infertility sisters did send me letters and I know it’s because you get it. And that you just can’t really understand it unless it happens to you. So thank you very much. And thank you to everyone else who sent me kind thoughts, words and prayers.