It’s natural. When a friend is hurting, we want to fix it. We want to do anything we can to make her feel better. After opening up and sharing about my own miscarriages, I’ve had quite a few people ask me what they can do for someone they know who’s recently suffered a miscarriage. With 1 in 4 (known) pregnancies ending in miscarriage, odds are, we all know someone who’s gone through it. So what’s a friend to do?
It might be better to answer that question by talking about what NOT to do.
Please don’t stay silent.
So often we keep our pregnancies hushed until we’re in the safe-zone (whatever that means). Consequently, miscarriages also don’t get acknowledged. But when someone honors you with the gift of their miscarriage story, please honor them in return and allow them to talk about it. Will it be uncomfortable? Possibly. But is it necessary? Absolutely. Staying silent speaks volumes and those who are suffering have to wonder whether you heard them, whether you care, and ultimately, whether their miscarriage is something they ought to be ashamed of.
Of course it’s not, but it’s easy to think that if no one is giving you the space or time to grieve out loud.
Please don’t try to tell us what we ought to do or feel. Don’t tell us things happen for a reason, or that it was meant to be, or that at least it means we know we can get pregnant. Don’t remind us that at least it happened early on in the pregnancy, or that we should be happy we’re still young. And definitely don’t tell us you’re sure it’ll happen for us. Because really, no one knows.
Instead, tell us that you’re so sorry. And that you’re here for us. And then just sit. And be patient with us. Offer to hold our hand, or make us dinner, or put on the kettle for a cup of tea. And then just allow us to be, to feel our grief, to cry, to shout, to scream. Whatever we need to do, just be there with us, if we want you there. But please don’t be offended if we don’t. If we want to be alone. That’s OK too. It doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate you or your offers.
Please don’t forget. I know we’ll look like ourselves. You probably won’t see the bump that we were starting to see in the shower when we looked down. We’ll be wearing the same clothes we’ve always worn, and it will be easy to forget we’ve just gone through a miscarriage. But please don’t pretend it didn’t happen. It’s OK to ask us how we’re doing with it all. It might make us teary, but tears are good, tears mean we’re not bottling up our sorrow. Consider it a privilege if we cry in front of you, and please honor our grief.
Time will pass and you’ll see us laughing again. But the grief might hit us at the strangest of times, returning full force weeks, months or even years later. So many invisible reminders can trigger our grief. It’s OK to ask how we’re doing, even if it seems like it was so long ago that we miscarried. Anniversaries might be hard for us: the due date, family holidays, and Mother’s Day especially.
Remember that even though we may not be holding our babies in our arms, we are still mothers.
Articles like this one and this one will give you scripts if you need them. And there’s even a line of cards specifically written for miscarriage. Knowing exactly what to say is difficult. We know that. And it’s OK if you make a mistake. That’s what apologies are for. But stay with us through this. It’s probably one of the most difficult things we’ll go through in our lives, and we need you. For some reason, our society doesn’t want us to talk about miscarriage, but knowing that you care means the world. Because it tells us that our story matters. It might not be the story we planned to tell, but it’s ours nonetheless, and it matters.
An Invitation to Grieve
After her ninth miscarriage earlier this summer, Meagan decided to create a 3 week, self-guided e-course to help other women suffering with the grief that follows a miscarriage. To honor Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in October, Meagan will be giving away five free enrollments of her e-course “An Invitation to Grieve; Healing After a Miscarriage” to MKE Moms Blog readers. If you, or someone you know has experienced a miscarriage and would welcome the opportunity to work through the grief in a safe, self-guided space, please email [email protected] and we will contact the selected participants. For more information about the course, please visit: http://www.aninvitationtogrieve.com .