Miscarriages are tragically common in our world today, but for some reason, we don’t talk about miscarriage or stillbirth too often…until we hear of someone else who’s had one. It’s almost like a secret club. Until I’d had my two miscarriages I could count on one hand the people I knew who’d lost their babies. After my miscarriages? I felt like everyone I knew had approached me to tell me their story of loss.
It would be a great gift to other women to make miscarriage mentionable. Not that it’s something we want to talk about everyday, but creating an awareness around this possibility would help with feelings of isolation after miscarriage.
Besides creating an awareness there are many things we can do to support a friend, sister, or other loved one who’s experiencing a miscarriage:
First of all, if she is sharing this information with you, know that you are an important person in her life. Most women keep miscarriages pretty private, especially early on. Unless they’ve announced their pregnancies they will probably not share this information with everyone. This means that you have a special opportunity to be a great support for her. Seize this opportunity!
• Acknowledge Her Loss
Write a card, send a text, call on the phone; be present and available. It is hard to know what to say sometimes, but keep it short and simple and then listen. I am so sorry that this is happening to you and your family. Especially if you can be in person together leave silence, so she can say what she wants to say. Sometimes it feels easier not to bring up the topic since we don’t want our friend to cry more. It is worth it to be present and a safe place for her to talk if she wants to talk, cry if she wants to cry.
• Talk About Her Baby
No matter how early or late the miscarriage occurred, this mama has lost her sweet baby. It isn’t just the end of a pregnancy, it is the loss of a life. This is sometimes hard to fully understand. When you haven’t known a person, and you didn’t even maybe know that this person existed until they were gone, it can be hard to think of them as real. But this baby’s mama had dreamed of what her baby’s face would look like, and what she or he would be when they grew up. They have begun a relationship with this person, so do your best to acknowledge the personhood of the baby. If she named her baby, talk about her baby by name.
• Do Practical Things
How much physical help she needs depends on how far along in the pregnancy she miscarried. No matter how far along the pregnancy was, bringing over a meal is likely to be comforting. No one likes to cook when they are in the depths of grief. Sending flowers or other gifts is obviously a thoughtful gesture, too.
But you can also show up as you would after someone delivers a baby. If she was farther along in pregnancy she may have to deliver the baby, and she may need a surgical operation. This would be a lovely time to watch her other kids, or come do some loads of laundry. Help her know that even though she has no new baby to care for, this is still a time that she should be being cared for. Sometimes it feels shameful, as though if there is no baby born, the mama shouldn’t be cared for. We know this is not true, so find ways to show up and help her not be alone.
• Follow Up
During a loss most people are in shock for the first six weeks or so. Their grief sort of numbs their awareness of what is going on around them. This makes six weeks after an event a great time to check in on your friend. Often, it is just hitting them that life is going on “back to normal” while they are still feeling anything but normal. Set a reminder in your phone to check in at six weeks and offer a lunch date or time to talk together.
Anniversaries and holidays are other hard times for those who have experienced a loss. They are remembering that this should have been their baby’s first Christmas or that this was the due date for a little one. As a friend, it can be a beautiful thing to remember these days! Even a simple text to say, “I know this is the day you should have been giving birth to your baby. I’m sorry that it’s not. Thinking of you and your family today.” can make a a world of difference. Even if it makes her cry, it will mean so much for her to know that you have not forgotten, because she has surely not forgotten.
Have you found a great way to support a friend after a miscarriage? Or has someone been a gift to you after experiencing a miscarriage? I’m so tremendously grateful for my friends and family who provided such love and care after our losses.