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Coping with grief

According to grief theorists Stroebe and Schut1, coping with loss can be a combination of accepting and confronting it. The ability to confront the situation and yet able to deal with the day-to-day tasks allows the person to continue to lead his/her lives with some form of stability.

As you grieve, you will likely find yourself oscillating, or repeatedly shifting back and forth, between these two methods of coping: loss-oriented and restoration-oriented.


You may have thoughts, feelings, actions or events that cause you to focus on your grief and pain.

This may include recalling the circumstances of the loss, looking at the ultrasound scans of the pregnancy and thinking about how much you miss your unborn child. Thinking about these may stir up emotions of sadness, disappointment, self-blame and anger.


At other times, you may find yourself in the restoration-oriented mode when you do or think about things that allow you to continue with your daily life and take your mind away from your grief.

Some of these things may include doing housework, working, spending time with family or friends and leisure activities such as watching television or exercising. It is normal for you to engage in such activities to take your mind off the grief and restore normality, without which you may find it difficult to care for yourself and continue with daily life.

For example, in the morning, you did some exercise, which took your mind off the loss – this is restoration-oriented. However, perhaps after coming back from your morning exercise, you saw the clean, unwrapped baby clothes that reminded you of your pregnancy loss, which made you cry – this is loss-oriented. After crying, you may decide to watch television to distract yourself, bringing you to restoration-oriented mode again.

Oscillating between these two modes are normal and perhaps you may even be doing it without realising.