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I had a service for my miscarried baby. Is this normal?

Cathy Yeulet/Hemera

The question

I had a service for my miscarried baby. My family members think that is unacceptable. What's your take?

The answer

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I am sorry to hear that individuals who at this time should be supportive to you are either implicitly or explicitly conveying disapproval with the way you have chosen to cope with this loss. Focus on surrounding yourself with supportive people and establish boundaries with the family members who are indicating your decision was unacceptable.

Tell them that their comments are not helpful, that your decision to have a service is a personal one, and that you would appreciate them not passing any judgment. If you have a partner, perhaps lean on them to help support you in these discussions.

Women cope with pregnancy loss in a range of different ways. There are no "rights" or "wrongs" when it comes to what you need to do to both get some closure on the loss, and also to move forward. Having a formal ceremony or service to mark and honour your baby is absolutely acceptable.

For many, the bond they have with their baby begins to develop the moment they find out they are pregnant.

The strength of the bond – and the impact the loss has on a woman – is often dependent on a number of factors, including how far into the pregnancy they were, how long they were trying to get pregnant, whether they experienced any difficulties conceiving, whether or not they have any other children, and whether there have been any previous pregnancy losses.

Remember that you need to work on getting through this period in a way that works for you.

Remind yourself that you will get through this painful period. Focus on small things that make you feel good during this period in your life, and spend time with those family and friends who are supportive and accepting. Many communities have support groups for women who have suffered a pregnancy loss, and you may find some comfort in speaking to others who have experienced what you have.

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Do keep a conscious effort to monitor your mood – although there are no definitive timelines, within a few months you should find yourself getting back to most of your usual activities (with respect to work, social function, exercise/health).

If you find yourself struggling significantly a few months or longer after the loss, you may want to speak to your family physician or to a mental health professional to see if additional supports may be helpful, as a small percentage of women may go on to develop clinical levels of depression following a pregnancy loss.

Send psychologist Joti Samra your questions at She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Dr. Samra.

Click here to see Q&As from all of our health experts.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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