How to Support a Friend Through Miscarriageby Elizabeth MacDonald
When I experienced the loss of a pregnancy at 10 weeks along, I wasn’t sure if I even deserved to talk about it. I felt as though others who did not understand would think, “10 weeks? That’s not even the second trimester.” And then the cramping and contractions began.
The emotions of the entire experience are indescribable for anyone who has not lived through a miscarriage. Yes, my 10 week old fetus was real. The tissue that I passed confirmed that I could not just forget about the pregnancy. My heart was broken. Actually, I had never felt heartache such as this before. It’s as if you are hit with the brick wall of realizing you will never meet, hold, or know this little life that you created. Every woman’s loss will be personal. It will occur differently and expose unexpected emotions.
There is no ‘better time’ to lose a pregnancy, and it is no one’s right to make a mother feel ashamed for mourning this loss. It is happening every day, and to 1 in 4 pregnant women. It should not be brushed under the rug and left unspoken.
The process of grieving is real. If your friend or family member is experiencing a miscarriage, it is important to be there for them. Yes, the words are hard to find. Yes, there will be tears and emotions. Yes, you may feel awkward. But you are needed. Going through a miscarriage is hard; there is no other way of saying it.
Ways You Can Support a Friend Through Her Miscarriage
A Care Bag: A bag full of organic pads for the bleeding, arnica or cramp bark for the cramping, favorite candy, bottle of wine, pajama pants, Epsom salt for a warm bath, and essential oils or a candle to burn. Include a handwritten card.
A Small Remembrance Token: A delicate charm on a thin chain can be worn near the heart; or a picture frame for an ultrasound photo. It does not have to be a grand gift, but more of a gift that will remind your friend of the love she will always have for her lost baby.
Be Present: Listen. There is no greater gift than listening.
Be Prepared: Per American Pregnancy, “be aware that grief has physical reactions as well as emotional reactions on the body. Physical reactions include: poor appetite, disturbed sleep patterns, restlessness, low energy, and other pains. Emotional reactions may include: panic, persistent fears, nervousness and nightmares. Encourage your friend or family member to call you or reach out when they experience these feelings.”
Help: Help with housework and offer to babysit, allowing the mother time to herself to process feelings and physical pain. A miscarriage can be an intense labor, and a mother needs to heal. Prepare a few meals and help her keep up with the laundry if you can.
Remember that the following can hurt more than it can help:
“At least it was an early miscarriage.”
“Maybe the baby was sick.”
“At least you already have a healthy child.”
Talking about your own loss in comparison. Advice of any kind is not warranted unless asked for.
When I experienced my miscarriage, the greatest thing I received was an outpouring of love. A dear friend spent time with me and cried right along with me. She brought me a care package that included a bottle of wine, which we quickly consumed. I had cards arrive for days from friends afar, and my husband took a day off of work to just be with me. We have since had two rainbow babies, and while the sadness does lighten over time, the heartache of not knowing a child will stay with a mother forever. There is no timeframe to heal or protocol to follow, but the support of a friend will help a mother through her loss.