Most of us know someone who has had a miscarriage. Some of us have had one ourselves. The pain is varied and unique to the person experiencing it. As a counselor, I’ve helped women process this kind of loss. They often grieve not only the loss of a baby but also the loss of family and the loss of motherhood. They may fear their own bodies and worry whether they’ll have any future children. Some feel like a failure as a woman and some feel betrayed by God. It can be hard to figure out what to say to someone who had a miscarriage.
As her friend, you are an invaluable resource to help her when she most needs help. You can be a sounding board for her, someone to hug, someone to cry with, someone to help her with daily tasks that feeling daunting, and a stable force to lean on. Here are some do’s and don’t’s to keep in mind as you help someone in the aftermath of a lost pregnancy.
- Make yourself available just to listen as she talks about what happened and what she feels. She may need to talk about it over and over again. It isn’t necessary to say anything back. Just listen and validate that her pain is real.
- Offer to do small tasks, run errands, or watch older children for a couple of hours.
- Check in often and let her know you are thinking about her. “I’m here for you” or “I’m praying for you” can mean so much.
- Let her talk about any unreasonable guilt she may feel for the loss. She may believe her body has betrayed her or that she is an inadequate wife. She may analyze every Tylenol or long car ride she took. In time, she will realize it isn’t her fault. But at first, a person experiencing loss often needs a villain to blame. Sometimes she believes she’s the villain.
- Don’t try to solve her pain with platitudes or by talking about the positives. Sentences that begin with “at least” aren’t helpful to someone who is grieving. Let her come to the bright side on her own.
- Don’t be impatient with her process. Offering solutions so she will get over it before she is ready will only create a disconnection between you and your friend. If you are worried she is sinking into unhealthy depression and it’s taking over her life, do tell her you know this really hurts and that you can’t imagine what it must feel like. Then ask if she’s thought about talking to a counselor or pastor.
- Don’t forget about her husband. Ask about him. Send him a card to let him know you are thinking of him, too.
- Don’t be afraid to bring up the miscarriage if she is not talking about it.
You are a gift to your friend while she experiences pain, loss, and fear. Your love and care for her will help her heal. You can’t take her pain away. But you can be supportive in other invaluable ways.
What have you or your friends found helpful after a miscarriage?