How Long Does It Take to Emotionally Get Over a Miscarriage?

Updated

Miscarriages are more common than we’d like to believe. While there’s no way to calculate the exact number, an estimated 26% of all pregnancies result in miscarriage, sometimes before someone even realizes that they’re pregnant. 

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Their frequency doesn’t make them any easier to deal with. Experiencing a miscarriage can bring up feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, overwhelm, and grief. Like many difficult experiences in life, it’s natural to want these feelings to go away. 

If you’re wondering, “How long does it take to get over a miscarriage?” unfortunately, there's no clear answer. Our healing processes are just as unique as we are. There are, however, certain patterns people tend to follow, and tools you can use to help speed the process up. 

Whether you or a loved one experienced a miscarriage, we’re here to give you some insight into how long it takes to get over it.

How Long Does the Miscarriage Grieving Process Typically Take?

Coping with miscarriage has its own unique grieving process, much like any loss. The length of your pregnancy doesn’t necessarily correlate to the amount of grief you’re experiencing.

In addition to healing emotionally, you’re also healing physically. It typically takes someone a few weeks to a couple of months to heal physically from a miscarriage. 

Grieving from a miscarriage is far from straightforward. People who have experienced multiple miscarriages or who have had fertility issues may have compounded and complex grief that can make the grieving process last even longer. You may be experiencing grief, as well as hope and anticipation for the future if you’re trying to get pregnant again. 

While the grief will lessen in intensity over time, it’s not uncommon to be grieving for a year or longer after you experience a miscarriage. There’s no way to give an exact timeline of how long the grieving process will take, but we can give you some estimates, along with tools to help you move forward.

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How Long Do Certain Parts of the Process Typically Take?

Much like other losses, people who experience a miscarriage often go through the stages of grief like shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression, and acceptance. 

We’d love to give you an easy answer about how long each part of the process will take, but unfortunately, there isn’t one. We can, though, give you a rough estimate of what it may look like.

Shock

One of the first things you might experience after you or a loved one has a miscarriage is shock—the shock that your pregnancy could just end all of a sudden and the shock of going from excitement and hopefulness to emptiness. Shock can shake us up. It comes without warning, much like the event that triggers it. 

Shock can sometimes mask other feelings of grief. It can have an emotionally numbing effect to get you through the intense first few weeks after a loss, just like adrenaline can mask the pain of a serious injury.

Shock after a miscarriage usually lasts anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month. With the feelings of shock, you might also be experiencing your hormones recalibrating and other parts of physically healing from a miscarriage. 

Failure, shame, and guilt

The next wave of feelings you might experience includes failure, shame, and guilt. Feeling like you failed your baby. Shame that your body didn’t do what it’s “supposed to.” Guilt for “not doing enough.”

These are all normal feelings, but that doesn’t make them any easier—or true. Almost half of people who had experienced or observed a miscarriage reported feeling guilty. 

Guilt can tear you up, filling you with feelings of “what if” or intrusive thoughts about what you could have done differently. Know that while guilt is normal, you did nothing wrong, and guilt won’t change anything. 

Feelings of guilt may last anywhere from a month to a few months or longer. It may go on longer if you’ve had multiple miscarriages or fertility issues. 

Loneliness

Loneliness is often a part of grieving after a miscarriage. You might feel cut off from the world you thought you were becoming a part of or isolated in your experience. Or feeling like you can’t connect with your normal life in the way you used to.

One of the ways you can help combat loneliness is by surrounding yourself with supportive and understanding people, joining a miscarriage support group, and reading other people’s stories. 

Loneliness after a miscarriage can last for around six months. 

Fear and anxiety 

Fear and anxiety often come up during the grieving process, especially if you are hoping to or trying to become pregnant again. These feelings may last anywhere from a month to nine months after the miscarriage. A study from 2019 found that 18% of women who experienced pregnancy loss had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder nine months after the loss. 

Can You Speed Up or Slow Down the Process?

Healing is not linear. You may feel like you take two steps forward and one step back, or weave in and out of the stages of grief. 

While you may not be able to speed up the process, exactly, you can keep it from slowing down by taking measures to support yourself.

Prioritize self-care

Having an arsenal of healing tools to lean on helps make your emotions more manageable. Here are some useful self-care tools after miscarriage:

  • Never underestimate the power of rest
  • Massage and bodywork
  • Eating comforting and nourishing foods
  • Spending time in nature
  • Take bereavement leave for miscarriage
  • Spend time with friends and family

Commemorate your loss

Commemorating your loss can help you make sense of your experience and give it context. Some ways people do this are creating miscarriage keepsakes like a memorial blanket, birthstone jewelry, hand-painted memorial stone, or even a remembrance tattoo.  

There’s no right or wrong way to commemorate your loss. It could be a small gesture or something grander. Do what makes sense for you and your family.

Seek professional support

While healing is an inside job, we can’t heal on our own. You may benefit from seeking professional support, whether that’s from a psychologist, social worker, death doula, or another sort of healer.

If one-on-one support isn’t accessible for you or doesn’t feel right, you can join a miscarriage support group or take part in online forums. 

Things to keep in mind

There might be certain days where you feel triggered after periods of feeling better, like on your due date, the anniversary of the miscarriage, or when you see a pregnant person or new parent. 

Give yourself extra space to practice self-care on these days, or let your loved ones know you may need extra support.  

How to Help a Loved One With Their Grief After a Miscarriage

Watching a loved one heal from a miscarriage can be gutwrenching. You may feel like you want to go in there and “fix them,” but ultimately, it’s their process.

That doesn’t mean you can’t help them along the way. Here are some ways you can do that: 

Don’t pressure them

They’re probably experiencing enough self-induced guilt and pressure, they don’t need more from their loved ones.

Try to avoid pressuring them to get back to “normal life.” Let them know that you’re there for them, and let them open up in their own time, without prying for details. 

Don’t ask them if or when they’re going to try to get pregnant again.

Give them time

Invite them along to “normal activities,” but understand that they might not be ready to join in just yet.

Give them space to cry and express what’s on their mind, but understand that they might not be ready to share or let in the support. 

Healing takes time, and your loved one will be grateful that you gave them the space and support they needed to heal. 

Grief Has No Timeline 

As much as we may want to speed up the process and get over a miscarriage, or slow it down to savor the memories, we don’t always have control over that. Grief sometimes feels like its own separate entity that comes and goes from our lives in its own time. 

If you’re experiencing intense feelings of anxiety, sadness, or other symptoms of PTSD or post-partum depression for months after your miscarriage, it’s important to seek professional support to help you heal. While periods of grief are normal, you don’t have to suffer. 

Continue to do the things that nurture your body and soul, lean on your community, and let yourself heal in your own time. You might not ever totally get over your miscarriage, but you will find healing, and you will move on.


Sources:
  1. Dugas, Carla, and Valori H Slane. “Miscarriage.” Stat Pearls Publishing, 29 January 2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
  2. Bardos, Jonah and Daniel Hercz. “A national survey on public perceptions of miscarriage.” Pub Med.Gov, June 2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  3. Farren, Jessica PhD, and Maria Jalmbrant, DClinPsy. “Posttraumatic stress, anxiety and depression following miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy: a multicenter, prospective, cohort study.” Original Research Obstetrics. 01 April 2020, ajog.org

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