Ambiguous Loss

Ambiguous Loss and Miscarriage

Confusion of Ambiguous Loss

With pregnancy loss, unlike other deaths, it can be hard for a family member or friend to understand what exactly hasbeen lost.

Confusion over what has been lost is often referred to as ‘ambiguous loss’, which simply means that it is a loss that people are unsure of, it is hidden, secret or perhaps not socially recognised[1].

There may also be a question in some people’s minds as to whether or not a loss has actually occurred. Responses from each individual will be different and influenced by their own experiences and connection with us and our pregnancy.

Other Examples of Ambiguous Loss

There are other types of losses that have a similar level of ambiguity, like losing a symbol of femininity such as a breast during cancer treatment or experiencing infertility when we desperately want children.

Even losing an ageing parent to a disease like Alzheimer’s – where their body is still present but we grieve for the spirit of the person that we love as we watch them slip away.

Each of these situations can leave us with the feeling that we have lost something of importance to us, but it isn’t as tangible as the standard accepted ‘loss’ from the death of a living human being.

Ambiguous Loss and The Confusion of Pregnancy Loss

Those of us who have experienced pregnancy loss can also feel this level of confusion and may begin to question whether we have sustained a genuine loss, since it is not a loss that receives a high degree of social validation.

This feeling is more common with first trimester losses. If we lose an infant, people will respond with flowers, cards and condolences – but if we lose a baby in utero they probably won’t.

Some people may not consider that there has been a loss, while others think such a loss is not significant enough to warrant their attention.

This can leave us feeling more than just a little confused with how we ‘should’ feel.

Pregnancy Loss is a Real Loss

During this time it is critical that we acknowledge the extent of the loss to ourselves – it is a significant loss and we are entitled to enter a grieving process as a result of this type of loss.

Validation is an important part of our healing.

Take Care until next time


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