Q: I lost a pregnancy and am having a tough time moving on. What is a normal grieving period?

A: Grief doesn't have a timeline. And no one should tell you it's no longer OK to mourn your loss. Sometimes loved ones may nudge you to move forward before you're emotionally able simply because they care for you and don't want to see you down. But as with any major loss, the pain from losing a pregnancy tends to fade very slowly; and it may never entirely disappear. In the shorter term, hormonal fluctuations related to the loss, including a sudden drop in estrogen, often make the emotional upheaval that much worse.

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From what I've seen, the first year of grief is usually the hardest. After that, feelings of grief typically comes in waves; you may have days when you feel completely fine, and then other days when a reminder of the times you spent planning for the baby leaves you heartbroken all over again.

Keep in mind, though, that grief can sometimes lead to depression. So if you find that you're unable to function from day to day, are beginning to pull away from your loved ones, or are even having suicidal thoughts, seek treatment from a psychiatrist, who can work with you and prescribe medication if it's needed. I know this hurts a lot now, and you will never forget the child you have lost. But with time, you will feel more like yourself again.

 

Gail Saltz, MD, is a psychiatrist and television commentator in New York City who specializes in health, sex, and relationships.