When someone you love tells you they’ve had a miscarriage, it can be very hard to figure out what to do for that person. I know firsthand there are things that family and friends did for me that helped me tremendously! Here are a few suggestions!
1. Send a card
…or a text, email, letter, smoke signal, carrier pigeon; something to let that person know that you are thinking of them regarding their loss.Acknowledge birthdays and would-be-due-dates. Have those awkward conversations. I get that sometimes it’s just plain hard to find the words to say, and the topic is understandably sensitive so you may think saying nothing is best. Some avoid talking about it because they think bringing it up to you will remind you of the pain. Let me let those people off the hook – this grieving mother or father is never going to forget losing their unborn child. It hurts more to think my baby is forgotten. For me, acknowledging the loss reminds me that my baby was alive within me, and his life counted. And those are sentiments I am desperately trying to hold on to. That’s why I believe that you don’t have to say anything lengthy or profound, but saying something to acknowledge the loss is very important!
For a few months after the miscarriage I battled depression and simply didn’t want to talk to people. My dear hubby fielded a lot of phone calls and texts when people wanted to check up on me – and I remember and treasure every last person who reached out in some form. Even though I wasn’t up for talking, I knew that they cared and that outpouring of love helped to get me through! A simple “Thinking of you during this time” or “I’m sorry for your loss. I love you!” will do just fine. I even had a friend tell me “I’m sorry I didn’t reach out sooner, I really just didn’t know what to say but I wanted you to know I’m praying for you guys”. This was a breath of fresh air and incredibly honest, I appreciated that.
There is a small caveat, there are some things you should avoid saying and I blogged before about what not to say – you can find that post here. Above all, remember that this person just lost a child…neglecting to acknowledge that loss ultimately hurts more than saying the “wrong thing”.
2. Just be there.
Because sometimes my first tip just doesn’t cut it for you. Maybe you truly can’t find the words…that’s okay! There is so much power and ministry in just being there for someone.
It’s a common thing to say “I’m here if you need me” when someone you love is going through a hard time. It’s not as common to make yourself available for someone whether they need you or not. Listen when (if, in some cases) they are talking to you about the miscarriage. Check on them today, and then check on them again tomorrow – and then again next week. Months later when you’ve forgotten about the loss, remember that they haven’t, and then check on them again. Ask if you can drop by just to give them a hug; and if they decline today ask them again tomorrow.
I’ll be the first to say I didn’t exactly make it easy for people to “just be there” for me after our loss. That being said, when you tell them you are going to pray for them, actually pray for them! So many people toss around the platitude “Praying for you during this hard time” but never actually talk to God about anyone but themselves. I’m guilty! But I believe in the power of prayer and I know I wouldn’t have made it through without the prayers of my husband, family and friends. That’s why when I tell someone I am praying for them, it’s usually because I already have.
3. Bring them food or offer to take care of errands.
Miscarriage is physically and emotionally draining. The last thing a grieving couple wants to think about during this time is doing the laundry, walking the dog, or cooking dinner. But, these things still need to be done – and that’s where you come in! My sisters helped dog sit on multiple occasions. Our parents sent us grocery money and they even had food delivered to our home once, which was incredibly nice! A classmate gave us a gift card to a nearby restaurant that we redeemed online so we could pick up dinner curb-side. All of these things were appreciated because for a little while after the loss I was physically unable to do the everyday things I normally did, like cook and clean. And though my husband is perfectly capable of manning the fort on his own, he was grieving too and also taking care of me. It was a huge help when our friends & family stepped in and did simple things like this for us.
4. Make or buy them a small gift.
I’m not saying spend a fortune, but a small gift helps to show your friend that their loss is real and valid to you, too. For example, my classmates came together and bought me a journal, candle, and over-sized tea mug – all practical things that I used when I needed to relax. Also, my sister bought me a Pandora charm with my unborn child’s birth stone in it. Sometimes I look at it and smile, and other times I look at it and get a little teary eyed, but having something tangible to hold on to after the baby is gone helps! My mother in law sent me and hubby gift cards to go shopping – she said it was an early birthday gift… though both of our birthdays were literally months later. I think she was just trying to brighten up our day 🙂 My parents sent chocolates and I also received flowers. While none of these material things could ever take the pain away, it helped to put a smile on my face if even for a moment.
5. Give them time.
Grief is an essential process after loss, let it run its course! After our miscarriage I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. So not only was I bereaved, I was also dealing with dramatically altered brain chemistry and hormonal imbalances that come with being pregnant and then suddenly, not pregnant anymore. This made it just plain hard to function as my normal self. There was a physical and mental aspect to my grief after the miscarriage that most people don’t consider.
I was mad at the world and this went on for months and months. Now that I am emerging on the other side of that phase – I have resurfaced to find that some people simply could not handle or accept the grieving process and how I expressed my pain. The Psalmist said “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”. In the words of a friend, it may not have been this morning, and it may not be tomorrow morning either – but one day your friend or loved one will make it through the grieving process and you want to be there when the morning comes. Don’t give up on your grieving friend.
You may think after a few weeks this person should be “over” their miscarriage by now, but everyone handles things in their own way. Some people like being surrounded by others when they are grieving, others (like myself in this situation) may prefer to be left alone. Some women may sort through their loss quickly and move on, while others may be devastated long after the pregnancy is over. Either way, giving your loved one the time and freedom to feel whatever it is that they feel – for however long they feel it – is one of the best things you can do for them!
Please, share in the comments things other people did for you that helped you cope with your miscarriage or infant loss! I always reply back, I look forward to connecting with you!