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Lisa Ling's Response to Miscarriage Not Uncommon

Dec. 10, 2010

Lisa Ling returned to “The View” today to talk about miscarriage. The journalist and former View co-host suffered a miscarriage when she was seven weeks pregnant. The self-described “ambitious” and “competent” woman said she, “felt like an incredible failure,” at the time of her miscarriage.

According to Irena Milentijevic, Psy.D., psychologist with Fertility Specialists of Houston, despite the fact that miscarriage is fairly common – 20 to 25 percent of pregnancies result in miscarriage - Ling’s emotional experience isn’t unique. Aside from feelings of failure, common experiences following miscarriage include shock, anger, loneliness, and guilt.

Milentijevic says, “People don’t understand. It’s not talked about.” Miscarriage is “downplayed in society and often even by the medical community,” she adds. Many women will hear, “At least you can get pregnant.”

“The problem with miscarriage is that it’s an invisible loss,” Milentijevic says. You had imagined what the baby or pregnancy would be like, but it wasn’t tangible. Or, people may not have known you were pregnant. As a result, people can’t comfort you, or, they don’t know how. “There are no rituals to grieve the loss, like there are when someone dies,” she adds.

Coping with Miscarriage

As a result, miscarriage can be an isolating experience, as it was for Ling. But it doesn’t have to be. Milentijevic offers some coping strategies:

  • First, slow down and acknowledge your miscarriage is a loss. It’s not something that “just happened” that you need to get over quickly. It may be the loss of a dream or the loss of a hope of having a baby.
  • Find ways to say goodbye . You may want to say goodbye to your baby’s spirit, and to your lost dream. Some people create a memory box, some attend a religious service. Milentijevic encourages you to come up with ways, with your partner, to formally say goodbye.
  • Get counseling or support. Some therapists specialize in infertility and pregnancy loss. In addition, there are support groups - both peer-led and professionally-led – in many communities. You can get referrals from doctors, friends, local hospitals, or non-profits such as RESOLVE. Online communities can also be a good source of support.
  • Find ways to make sense of the experience. Ask yourself, “What does it mean to me?” “How is the miscarriage affecting me?” “How would I like to proceed?” Through a dialogue with other women or a professional you can begin to find ways to make sense of the experience.
  • Understand that women and men have different grieving styles. “Women may grieve intensely for a longer time, while men are able to bounce back more quickly and may think their partner is overreacting,” Milentijevic says. “Women, on the other hand, may think that their husbands are not grieving sufficiently, which can increase their feelings of being alone.”