The emotional toll of perinatal loss, a devastating experience of losing a baby during pregnancy or shortly after birth, is often overlooked and underestimated. This article sheds light on the profound effects it has on the mental health of parents and highlights available treatment options for healing and support.
The Impact of Perinatal Loss on Parental Mental Health
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 17, 2023 grief, grief counseling, grief therapy, miscarriage, perinatal loss, perinatal mental health, stillbirth0 comments
The Emotional Consequences of Perinatal Loss:
Perinatal loss can trigger intense emotions such as sadness, guilt, and grief for parents and other family members. It can lead to conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Coping with these emotions becomes challenging as they interfere with sleep, appetite, and self-care.
Understanding the Causes and Challenges:
Perinatal loss can occur due to various medical conditions, genetic abnormalities, infections, or unknown factors. The unexplained nature of some losses can make it even more difficult for parents to cope, questioning themselves and feeling guilt or blame for the loss. Mothers, who have developed a strong attachment to their unborn baby, may experience heightened emotional intensity.
Impact on Relationships and Future Pregnancies:
Perinatal loss can strain a couple’s relationship as they navigate their individual grief and coping mechanisms. Fear and anxiety about future pregnancies may make it difficult for parents to bond and trust in the health of a new baby. Avoiding situations that remind them of their loss, such as baby showers or visits to the hospital where their child was born, can hinder the healing process and moving forward.
Available Treatment Options For Perinatal Loss:
Effective treatment options are available to support parents through the grieving process. Perinatal Mental Health Treatment, including individual or group therapy sessions, allows parents to process their emotions and develop coping mechanisms with the guidance of a trained mental health professional. Support groups provide a safe space for sharing experiences and finding solace in others who have faced similar losses.
Embracing Mindfulness and Medication:
Mindfulness practices offer valuable tools to regulate emotions, reduce anxiety, and cultivate a sense of calm. Through mindfulness meditation, parents can learn to be present and centered, enhancing their ability to cope with the intense feelings associated with perinatal loss. In cases of severe depression or anxiety, medication may be recommended, and it’s crucial to consult a mental health professional for guidance.
The Healing Journey:
Healing from perinatal loss is a personal and unique process. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and it’s essential to be kind to oneself. Time, support, and understanding are vital in navigating the path towards healing and finding solace in the midst of this heartbreaking experience.
Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources and compassionate professionals ready to support you on your healing journey.
Written by: Teresa Gouch, LPC, and certified Perinatal Mental Health expert. Teresa offers online therapy. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with Teresa call us at 412-322-2129 or contact us here.
5 Ways to Help Newly Adopted Children During the Holidays
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghDecember 15, 2021 Adoption, Guardianship, Child Anxiety, children mental health, grief, healthy holiday, holidays, holidays stress reduction, trauma, trauma counseling, trauma informed care0 comments
When most people celebrate the holidays, they are surrounded by loved ones telling stories and laughing over mugs of hot cocoa as they exchange gifts. During this time of holiday cheer, many children who were adopted are faced with the realization that they will not see any of their biological family during the holidays. It is a stark reminder of the grief and loss they have experienced up to and including being removed from their biological family’s home. It is important for adoptive parents to prepare for and remain aware of what they can do to help their newly adopted children during the holidays. Here are some therapist recommendations to follow:
- Talk about the holiday. Help your child understand what holiday traditions and festivities your family participates in and allow them to ask questions. Do you celebrate over many days or just one day? Are there religious customs? Who will they meet and will there be gift exchanges? Avoiding surprises will help decrease anxiety.
- Incorporate traditions that the child celebrates into your holiday. Whether it is an annual watching of Frosty the Snowman or a snowball fight on Christmas Eve, bringing a cheerful memory to life may make a child feel more comfortable. You may even get a smile. Through conversation, you may discover that your child doesn’t celebrate the same holiday you do. Make it a point to learn about their customs and show interest in celebrating them.
- Allow them to grieve. Despite your best efforts, your child may still pull away. This is not intended to be a reflection of their feelings toward you or their new family, but instead a way of coping through this difficult time. Make one-on-one time with your child to talk through what they may be feeling. Be prepared if they shut down the conversation or not know exactly what they need. Give enough space for “downtime” and do not force them to participate in any activities.
- Don’t chase the “perfect” holiday. This not only creates unnecessary stress for you, but also for your child. Be flexible, be realistic, and have a sense of humor when things don’t go as planned! This can also include unexpected responses from extended family who do not understand the child’s behavior.
- Stay Trauma-Informed. Educate yourself on trauma and the impact it has on the dynamics of a family. Trauma can often look like anger, hyperactivity, and defiance. Without an understanding of the effects of trauma, it is likely you will misinterpret your child’s behavior resulting in feelings of anger and resentment. There are many resources online to assist in Trauma-Informed Care such as attachmenttraumanetwork.org or childwelfare.gov.
In summary, there isn’t one right way to raise a child. Remember to give yourself grace and practice self-care! Your child will teach you more about yourself than you may have ever realized previously. With patience, knowledge, and empathy, you can create an open environment that allows an adoptive child to feel comfortable expressing their fears, triggers, and even their feelings about their biological family.
Written by: Teresa Gouch, a licensed professional counselor at the Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh. Teresa specializes in trauma counseling and foster care/adoption counseling.
Coping With Grief During the Holidays
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghNovember 15, 2021 anticipatory grief, bereavement, coping with loss, death of child, death of husband, death of parent, death of wife, family loss, grief, grief counseling, grief therapy, holidays, loss counseling0 comments
Kristen saw her reflection in the full-length mirror. She looked lovely in the beautiful dress she had purchased for her company’s holiday party. Yet, in the blink of an eye, Kristen found herself sobbing, the carefully applied make-up now smeared by her tears. She didn’t know how she was going to get through the event. All she could focus on was her beloved sister, whom she tragically lost a month earlier.
The holidays are upon us. We look forward to the festivities, gatherings, and gift-giving accompanying the celebrations. For many, however, it’s the first year a loved one will not be joining in the party or sitting in their usual seat at the dinner table. The positive emotions associated with this time of year are hard to find, and painful ones may be ever-present. So, how can we get through it or help someone we know who is struggling? Here are some important points to remember when coping with grief during the holidays:
- Recognize acute/intense grief. This period immediately follows the loss of a loved one and can be characterized by a sense of numbness or disbelief. In addition, there may be physical symptoms: problems with sleep, headache, weight change, nausea, crying; emotional symptoms: sadness, anger, irritability, anxiety, helplessness, guilt, apathy, denial; behavioral symptoms: forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, dreams of the deceased, preoccupation with death; and social symptoms: sensitive, withdrawn, hyperactive, underactive, lack of interest, low self-esteem. Understanding and conveying the intensity of what the person may be experiencing is normal and can provide support.
- Grieving takes time. After the funeral or service, often friends and extended family move on rather quickly. The one suffering the significant loss can feel as if they are lagging behind or taking an abnormal amount of time to get over the loss. Be willing to talk about memories and feelings for as long as it takes. Remind them that the grief process is unique to each person, and they are in charge of the process.
- Grieving is dynamic. As time moves on, it may seem that the person is doing better but begins to have periods of intense emotional responses. As reality sets in and the shock dissipates, more emotions may surface and be expressed more fully. Grief comes in waves and can be triggered spontaneously by a memory, smell, location, context, or another person. Grief can also be triggered during certain times of year including the holidays, the anniversary of the death, and the deceased loved one’s birthday. Offer a shoulder to lean on when those challenging moments occur.
- Limit activities if needed. No one should feel obligated or pressure another to engage in activities if they don’t feel ready to participate. Going ahead of oneself can make things worse. Instead, gently remind the person the choice is theirs, without a need for an explanation.
- Isolation. Too much isolation can be detrimental. Make an effort to take the initiative to check in or stop by to provide a connection. Sending a note or card may also convey that the person is not alone and in your thoughts.
- Remembering helps. Planning unique ways of remembering the person who is gone may be emotional but can be comforting to the person grieving. Always ask first, but perhaps consider ways to have a meaningful time together reminiscing.
The loss of someone we love is a tremendously difficult part of life; we can lovingly support one another through the process of grief until fond memories become more endearing than painful. If you or someone you know could use extra support, we offer grief counseling.
Written by: Amy White, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor at the Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh.Learn More
What is Complicated Grief?
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 19, 2021 bereavement, divorce, family estrangement, family loss, grief, grief counseling, grief counseling monroeville, grief counseling pittsburgh, grief therapy, grief therapy monroeville, grief therapy pittsburgh, grieving the loss of a parent, Uncategorized0 comments
Losing someone close to you can invoke many complex emotions like sadness, pain, loss, and hurt. These feelings are natural and a part of life, but with complicated grief, or complicated bereavement disorder, such feelings don’t fade with time or improve. Their emotions might be so intense that it disrupts their daily life.
Living with complicated grief can bring up dysfunctional behaviors and unconventional thoughts. This chronic form of suffering can make it impossible to return to a healthy state of life. When normal grief does not go away, complicated grief occurs.
Think of complicated grief like being in a heightened state of mourning that prevents you from accepting and moving forward. Often this looks like intense sorrow and pain and constantly thinking about the loss of your loved one. You may find it challenging to think about anything else but your loved one’s death. But also, complicated grief could also arise from separation as well as life transition such as loss of job.
Losing someone close to you is a distressing and natural event that everyone faces at one point or another throughout their lives. It is entirely normal to go through a period of sadness, numbness, regret, guilt, or even anger. However, these feelings eventually fade and are replaced with acceptance and the ability to get on with life.
For most people, the grieving experience follows a natural sequence and timing of events:
- Acceptance of loss
- Experiencing the pain and grief of your loss
- Adjusting to a new reality without your loved one
- Having new relationships
Complicated grief does not allow you to move through these stages in a healthy time frame.
Examples and Signs of Complicated Grief
Complicated grief can look like normal grief, except that symptoms usually fade over time with normal grief.
Examples of complicated grief may include:
- Avoiding thinking of their loss
- Obsessively thinking of their loved one
- Intense longing for their loved one
- Feeling a loss of purpose in life
- Constantly reminding themselves of their loved one
- Suicidal thoughts
- Unable to accept their loss that occurred at least six months ago
- Feelings of loneliness
- Lack of interest in taking care of one’s self
- Reckless and self-destructive behavior
- Inability to resume their regular routine
- Avoiding activities or places that remind them of their lost one
- Loss of appetite
- Stress and anxiety
If these symptoms persist for more than a month and significantly impair your life, then it may be time to seek help.
Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you have suicidal thoughts to receive support and assistance from a compassionate, trained professional.
Healthy Ways to Cope
The best way to cope with complicated grief is by seeking out professional counseling and therapy. Treatment can help you focus on your condition and begin the process of healing.
The most common treatment option is called bereavement therapy. A bereavement counselor will show you ways to monitor your grief and stabilize your emotions. You can also join a bereavement support group to talk about your feelings of sorrow, pain, and loss. It’s important to know that you are not alone and that other people experience the same emotions.
Other forms of therapy can help you cope with your situation, such as traumatic grief therapy. Help is always available, and you can find ways to find happiness and peace again.
If you are suffering from grief know that you’re not alone, and it’s okay to ask for help if you feel your grief is overwhelming. You can contact us at 412-322-2129 to set up an appointment with one of our Grief Counselors or email us at email@example.com to get started. Or contact us here.
Grief and Loss
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 14, 2018 bereavement, complicated bereavement, complicated bereavment, coping with loss, death of child, death of husband, death of parent, death of wife, divorce counseling, grief, grief counseling, grief counseling monroeville, grief counseling pittsburgh, grief therapy, grief therapy monroeville, grief therapy pittsburgh, healthy mourning, loss counseling, seperation0 comments
Grief and Loss, Beware The Traps of Grief, Finding Healthy Coping.
Grief is an emotional reaction characterized by sadness, hurt, hopelessness and intense longing for someone or something that is no longer a part of our lives. While there are many forms of grief, and we can even at times go through the grief cycle when are making significant changes in our lives and looking back imagining how much we would do differently if only we were equipped with what we know now. While depression may share symptoms with grief, they are different disorders. In other forms, we may experience a life transition, loss of a job, or lose a chance that we had hoped to gain. For the purposes and scope of this article, we will focus on the kind of grief which is experienced due to the loss of a loved one due to death or break up.
There is no time line on the normal or appropriate amount of time to grieve the loss of someone we love. Although the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual recommends that grief should become more manageable after one year for a first degree relative. Yet we also know that life will likely never be the same after, loosing a loved one, spouse, a child, a parent or friend. The agony of loss will be something that is remembered for many, many, years to come. Grief and loss are a process which can be worked through in an emotionally supportive therapy or grief counseling, but there are also pitfalls which accompany grief;
- Some traps of grief are that we imagine that we could have done something to change the ending of the story, this is true for all losses. Both a breakup or the death of a loved one can cause us to replay the events over and again in our imaginations, and even magnifying portions of the events, embellishing upon what we could have done differently.
- Grief can at times lead to many forms of guilt, when we magnify what we could have done differently, we then invariably feel guilty that we didn’t achieve those things, that we couldn’t save our person from dying or leaving a relationship. At other times, we may feel relieved for the loss and then experience intense guilt for the relief or for not feeling as much sadness as we imagine we should feel.
- Grief at other times can become complicated, our bereavement can take on unhealthy forms and even lead to complications such as depression, or lead us to reach for unhealthy attempts to bury our pain such as addiction, we may socially isolate, men in particular may be vulnerable to not activating their support network after a loss. This leads to greater distress and complications.
- Repressing our feelings or pretending that loss didn’t impact us, we as humans can be very clever in the production of all sorts of diversions which assist us in not managing our emotions, it is important to practice and enhance self-awareness during grievous times.
- Not knowing how to label emotions or losing hope that the sadness and grief can be managed and processed in a way that is constructive. Grief is something that we innately feel at some point in our lives but that we don’t often know how to manage.
Grief is a universal and human experience that may even be related to the depth of ones affection. We must allow ourselves to love, to hurt, and to heal, and it is the price that we pay for having ever loved at all.Learn More