I'd like to caveat this post by saying each experience is different, but there are definitely things I've learned, that I think should be talked about.
1. Your body changes. You hear that "pregnancy changes things" but you don't realize that applies to you, because you didn't carry a pregnancy to term. Hormone balances, how your body responds to things - all of this can change, and then you spend months trying to figure out why you react differently to something, when you've never had that problem before.
2. The word miscarriage is misleading. It sounds like it's your fault - you didn't "carry" correctly. Plus, the word is so mainstream, it doesn't accurately reflect the hell you go through. A miscarriage sounds like something to be sad about for a little while. I prefer the term "pregnancy loss," because that's what it is - a loss.
3. A miscarriage is a very physical thing. I was amazed at how traumatic this was on my body. I had to have surgery, had cramping and bleeding for a few weeks after, and was visiting my doctor's office for the next month and a half so they could verify a decrease in my hormone levels through blood draws. If you don't have a d&c and have to endure a physical miscarriage it's an extremely painful experience - hours (or days) of bleeding.
4. A miscarriage IS a loss. As I said earlier, this is part of why I don't like the word miscarriage. Whether it took years, or you got pregnant the first month you started "trying," the baby you were excited about - the one you'd hoped and prayed for, and already formed dreams about - is dead. The heartbeat has stopped, and you're either being prepped for surgery to remove your child, or your body is expelling it in an incredibly painful way. Yes it's physical, but it is so emotional - your body didn't do what it was built to do, and there can be all types if guilt and grief associated with it.
5. Triggers for grief may not always make sense. I expected certain things to be hard, like my first time going to Target after my d&c, where I tried to avoid pregnant women and the baby section. But finding myself in tears after talking about a trip was surprising. (I later realized I got emotional because if I'd still been pregnant, we wouldn't have been able to travel). Grief is not linear, and sometimes it's like a boomerang - fading away, getting better, until it comes flying back and knocks you flat. Be gentle with yourself as you try to get up; eventually you'll stand, but even kneeling can be huge progress.
6. You can feel happy, but still be sad. A favorite quote of mine is, "Saying you can't be sad because someone else has it worse is like saying you can't be happy because someone else has it better." If you have a social media presence, you will not be able to avoid pregnancy announcements. They might sting or seem unfair, but you can be absolutely happy for someone else, yet still devastated about your loss. Like their status, tell them congratulations if you want, and know it's okay to stop following their news feed for awhile - you do not need to see their weekly bump shots if you're not up for it.
7. Practice self-care. If your best friend where going through this, what would you say to her? What would you do for her? Do that for yourself. It's easy for a moment when you're feeling down - a pedicure or a trip to Starbucks can be a fun pick-me-up, but self-care is more than that. When you're sitting on your couch sobbing about what might never be, let yourself sob. Don't block those feelings. Allow yourself to cry, and after awhile text a friend, or put on a favorite TV show - something that's a comfort to you.
8. The only way out of grief is through it. I can't tell you how long you'll be grieving. I can't promise you won't be sad every year on the day of your d&c, or the day you were due. I can't assure you there won't always be a little part of you that is sad, and surfaces from time to time. But I can tell you, if you do the work - if you face your grief, and let yourself feel all the feelings, eventually, it becomes less raw, and more bearable.