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Losing a pregnancy can be extremely difficult for a woman and her partner. When I suffered a miscarriage in 2014 (read my full story here), it was absolutely devastating to my husband and me. Not only was it the loss of a child, it was the loss of our hopes and dreams for that child. The life that we had been dreaming about just weeks prior was gone.
It can be difficult for loved ones to know how to support a grieving women or man, because the loss isn’t as tangible to anyone else. And although miscarriages are common (occuring in 20-25% of known pregnancies), many people have never experienced one or known someone who has. Many times statements that are meant to be helpful actually cause more grief and pain to the parents.
Acknowledge the Loss
– This was a very real loss to the parents, no matter how far along she was. Avoid phrases that minimize the pain such as ‘At least you weren’t that far along’, ‘you couldn’t afford another baby anyways’, ‘you can always try for another one’ or any other variation of this. Statements like these are not helpful and end up causing more grief. Instead, think of what you would say to someone who lost a living relative. ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ or ‘This must be really difficult’ can go a long way.
– Miscarriages are common, and typically are due to genetic abnormalities rather than something the woman did (exceptions can include drug/alcohol usage and injury). She didn’t cause a miscarriage by doing yoga, lifting boxes, having sex, eating parsley or almost any other thing. She is already grieving the loss of her child, please don’t make her feel guilty about it as well. And if she blames herself, remind her that it’s not her fault.
Offer to Help Around the House
– Grief takes on many forms. Some people will take on additional work to keep their mind of their situation, other people need time to relax and do nothing. Ask them if they need help. Or better yet just stop by and do it. Fold some laundry, do some dishes, or bring the parents dinner. Do they have another child? Take the child out for a little bit to let them grieve. Taking care of a child while mourning the loss of another is exhausting, particularly if the other child isn’t old enough to understand the situation.
– Sometimes the parents just need someone to be there for them. No fancy words required. A simple ‘sorry for your loss’ suffices. Be available if he or she wants to talk. Be available if he or she doesn’t want to talk, but doesn’t want to be alone. Sometimes the presence of another person is all that’s needed.
Buy a Gift or Card
– Gifts are never expected, but are appreciated. A condolence card or flowers can be a great way to acknowledge the suffering the parents are going through. Earth Mama Angel Baby has a beautiful selection of infant loss healing gifts (affiliate link) including candles, essential oil fragrance and flower seeds. If you’re close to the mother or father, you may also like to get a more personalized gift such as jewelry with the baby’s name (if there was one picked out) or a teddy bear (for more gift ideas, see 9 Ways to Honor a Baby that Never Was).
Tell Your Story
– If you’ve suffered from a miscarriage yourself, share you story. It’s incredibly healing to hear other people’s stories and know that you aren’t alone in your grief.
Supporting someone after a miscarriage can be difficult but it’s important to the healing process. Even if you don’t know what to say, simply making your presence available can go a long way.
Have you suffered from a miscarriage? What did friends or family do or say that helped or hurt you? Have you ever supported someone going through an infant loss? Let me know in the comments below.