As someone who has gone through my fair share of miscarriages, I know that oh-so-many people have no clue how to support someone going through a miscarriage. I've gotten plenty of thoughtless, hurtful comments along with people who just steered clear because they didn't know what to say. Sadly, we just went through another miscarriage several weeks ago. As I've been recovering and dealing with my loss I was comforted by family and friends who have come along way from the way they tried to deal with our first several miscarriages. Our loves ones have finally, for the most part, figured out how to support us in this difficult time. So I wanted to share with all of you, so that you can support your loved ones well the first time.
I also wanted to make sure you understand that everyone deals with miscarriage differently. The following are generally guidelines. Please use your judgment and knowledge of the person involved to best care for your loved one.
Follow their LeadIf your friend or family member tells you the news via email. Respond with an email. They may not be up to talking out loud about it yet. If they tell you on the phone or in person, you know they want the personal touch and you should continue your dialogue in that way.
In the same way some people may want to go on with life as normal; let them do so. If and when they want to talk to you about it, be supportive. But allow them to take the lead. A gentle, “how are you doing or do you need anything” is all the prodding you should do.
Listen, Really ListenAgain, following their lead, let them talk about what they are feeling. Use active listening by repeating things back.
THEM - It’s just so hard.You are allowing them to process out loud without your thoughts and feelings making it harder.
YOU – I can imagine it would be hard.
If you find the conversation is getting stuck ask them:
- How are you feeling?
- Can I do anything to help?
- Do you need a meal?
- Can I take your kids off your hands so you have some time to yourself?
- Do you need a friend to go with you to the doctor?
- Would you like to get together to talk?
- Would you like to get together and do something fun to distract yourself?
- How is today going?
- How are you kids doing?
DON’T Give Your 2 cents!I know this probably seems obvious, but I feel the need to say it. There is nothing you can say to make it better.
So please don’t try to come up with something to stay. Please, oh please, try to avoid saying these “foot in mouth things”
- Stories of someone else’s miscarriage
- You’ll get over it
- You already have ___ healthy children
- Maybe you shouldn’t have any more
- So how long do we let you wallow before we show tough love (oh so not your place!)
- It happens all the time; it’s normal/common
- When I went through a miscarriage . . . . (this isn’t about YOU!)
- Do you need to see a counselor (let them grieve before you assume they need an expert grief counselor!)
Show your Support SomehowJust like we all have different love languages, we all have ways we are more comfortable showing love as well.
You need to show your support somehow.
If this person is a close friend, came to you for support, or is a family member ----> you NEED to show support somehow.
Please read this carefully. Because I cannot stress this enough,
Glossing over the situation because you don’t know what to do or are uncomfortable is unacceptable. You will not only hurt the person already grieving, but will likely damage that relationship permanently.Ways to Show you care:
- a card
- a giftcard ($5 Starbucks, Panera, pizza, etc.)
- flowers (have them sent so you don’t impose with your presence if they aren't up for entertaining)
- small gift bag (homemade cookies, soothing tea, favorite candy, etc.)
- take them a meal
- send them an email (because email is so informal you'll need to follow up with at least one more emial 5 days later)
- offer to help with the kids (babysitting, entertaining, etc.)
Pray for ThemOnly God can truly heal a broken heart. Short of expressing your care and concern, the only thing you can truly do is to pray for them. Lift them up to our heavenly Father who loves them and knows them better than anyone else truly can.
Pray for comfort. Pray for healing (physically and emotionally). Pray for wisdom on being a friend to them. Pray God would direct their hearts desires to His.
Special Note for HusbandsNow I want to say a couple things to husbands. Your role here is so much bigger. You are in a hard place because many men don’t feel like they were pregnant yet. So the depth of the loss is missing; to men it is more of a thought of a child, but still in the abstract. Please understand that loss is felt deeply by your wife who has been “feeling” pregnant and has been thinking about this growing life day and night since before she found out she was pregnant.
You still need to listen and show support, but you also need to do more. You are her best friend and partner.
- Hug her ----> a LOT!
- Cuddle (She wants to be held and comforted. Snuggle up and watch a movie every night if that’s what it takes, but give her lots of physical (non-sexual) affection!)
- Help her out – Her body is recovering, her mind is distracted with grief and she may not be on her "A" game. Help out around the house more than usual – clean up the kitchen, put the kids to bed.
- Leave her little love notes to tell her you love her - strengthening your bond will help her feel supported in this time and bring you even closer together.
- Ask her if she wants some alone time and take care of the kids while she processes
- Bring her some comfort food (whatever your wife’s vice – chocolate, ice cream, etc. Make sure you bring her a treat)
- Flowers will help brighten up your home and will bring a smile to her face even if she doesn’t feel very happy inside right now
- Tell her how much you love her (several times a day!)
- Ask her how she is feeling at least daily for months (and be ready to listen, really listen)
How long does it take to get over a miscarriage?
Although there is no magical amount of time for recovering emotionally from a miscarriage, I think there are a couple of factors you can use as benchmarks:
- How pregnant was she - the longer you were pregnant, the more difficult it is to recover (both physically and emotionally)
- How long had she been trying (it will be a lot more difficult for a woman who has been going through rounds of fertility treatment, who has been trying for 3 years than for a woman who had an unplanned pregnancy.
- When she gets pregnant again. Although it is not a given that you need to get pregnant again, many couples go on to conceive and carry a child to term. Having a new life to love and cherish helps you move on with joy. (again, notice I didn't say forget! Just move on)
For Those Grieving a Miscarriage,And for any of you grieving from your own miscarriages, I’m sorry! I know it hurts, it stinks, and I hope you find a way to move on. Not forget, but choose to live the life you’ve been given to it’s fullest.
For more, you can read about our (still) struggle in So I Wait… (a very personal glimpse into my heart) and Making it Through a Miscarriage