In the aftermath of babyloss, you may wonder where, in your grief, you should begin. Often, I encounter individuals experiencing grief who feel completely overwhelmed and are looking for a simple process to begin coping, and I find that Therese Rando's Six Rs of Mourning can provide a useful model that grievers can incorporate into their lives as they begin therapy. Though no one model fits every griever, it may be useful to explore of the Six Rs apply to babyloss.
1. Recognize the loss. This process, in babyloss, begins as you acknowledge that you have lost a baby, and understand that you are no longer pregnant or parenting a living child. Prior to the loss settling in, you may almost feel numb or having trouble believing that it is real.
2. React to the separation. As you confront the reality of your loss, you may experience overwhelming emotions of sadness, anger, frustration, and more. It is important to identify these feelings, explore them in a safe environment such as therapy, and allow yourself to feel them, even if you are uncomfortable. You will begin to acknowledge these intense emotions as a reaction to your baby no longer being present either inside your womb or outside your body. This may also be a time where you acknowledge the loss of hopes and dreams you had for your baby's life.
3.Recollect and Re-experience the relationship with the deceased. During this time, it is important for you to explore your relationship with your baby and pregnancy, even if it means confronting painful feelings. Telling the story of your baby's life and death can lead to healing as you allow yourself to recall lessons from pregnancy, childbirth, termination, or miscarriage and how these contribute to your life moving forward.
4. Relinquish old attachments to the deceased and old assumptive world. While it sounds complicated, at this stage, you understand that, as a babyloss mama, you look at the world through different lenses, and you also acknowledge that you are no longer attached to your baby in the same way as you were when they were alive. This allows you for the next phase.
5. Re-adjust to move adaptively into the new world without forgetting the old. During this time, you will work on creating a new relationship with your baby (see Continuing Bonds) in this new life without their physical presence. It allows you to carry your baby with you, symbolically, as your begin to integrate into this new, post-loss world. As you do this, you may begin to realize that the person you are has changed as a result of your loss, and this new "you", wounded but not broken by grief, needs gentle reintegration to life.
6. Reinvest. When the time comes, you will begin to focus your emotional and psychological energy toward new relationships, goals, and other aspects of life that you could not focus on before. For some, this is a time when they may consider trying to have another baby.
Remember that just because these stages appear in a numbered order, that does not mean that you cannot cycle back and forth through them. Some days, you may feel ready to reinvest, and others, you may need to work again on relinquishing old attachments. This is normal. Grief is never linear; sometimes the experience is more like a rollercoaster. In time, however, you may begin to find your way through the loss of control and fog of grief to find your new normal. When that starts to happen, you'll feel it.