I had no idea how common miscarriages were until I had one of my own.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). “Anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage.”
That is no small number. When news of my miscarriage began to make the rounds I could not believe the number of friends, family and coworkers that confided in me that they had experienced one as well.
Recently a friend from high school reached out to me to ask how to help a friend of hers who had just lost a baby. She mentioned that she didn’t know what to do and wondered if I would give some advice. This conversation made me realize that there are probably countless people out there who have loved ones who are going through this and they don’t quite know how to help.
The fact of the matter is, miscarriage is an incredibly lonely thing for the woman experiencing it. Their husband and family might be there for them in every way but really, the only people who can truly empathize, are other women who have been through it.
In hopes that someone can read this and use it to help a friend suffering though the loss of a baby, here is some advice from someone who knows it all too well.
Ask them what they want. Everyone grieves differently. Some people want to be left alone and not talk about it at all. Some want to be distracted so they don’t dwell on the painful thoughts. I wanted to talk about my baby and acknowledge its existence and also the devastation of losing it. Everyone heals in unique ways. Ask your friend what they want. Then, you know exactly how you can go about supporting them, in their own way.
Don’t treat it like a lost pregnancy, but as a lost child. In my experience, it seemed that people who had not been through a miscarriage always treated it more like I just wasn’t pregnant anymore. However true that fact may be, it was so much more than that. I felt connected to that baby from day one and losing it was a pain much greater than just not being pregnant anymore. Make sure you acknowledge the existence of a child in the situation. If the mother names the baby and calls it by name, follow their lead. We named out sweet baby Selah and once in a note, my sister in-law referred to our baby by name. Somehow, that made all the difference.
Don’t bring up future babies. It didn’t bother me when people used the cliche’ “God has a plan” because I knew he did no matter how mad at him I was. It did however drive me batty when people would mention that I can just try again or to think of how blessed we’ll feel when we do have a baby. While those things are true, you never know the outcome. Also, in the moment you don’t want to be thinking about future babies, you want to grieve that baby.
Listen. Everyone knows how awkward it can be to try and console someone who has gone through something terrible that you cannot relate to. You feel like you have nothing to offer and then you fumble through the classic lines of support. But sometimes people just need you to listen, nod your head, and say “I’m so sorry.” It doesn’t always have to be about advice. Comfort and your presence can be enough.
Food. One of my best friends brought over a weeks worth of amazing food for us after our miscarriage. Not only was it nice to have during a time I didn’t want to do much but cry and sleep, but it really made us feel taken care of and remembered. It’s a simple thing to do but it can really speak volumes.
Pray for them. Even if the person is not religious at all. Keep them in your prayers. If they are, offer to pray for them out loud. There is something about knowing people are praying for you and that sweet baby, that really helps ease some pain.
My hope is that these suggestions will help someone show support and comfort to a friend going through the pain of miscarriage.
For I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18