My very first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. I was the first of my close group of friends to go through one and it was unbelievably devastating. It was also really hard for my family and friends to know WHAT or WHAT NOT TO say because we hadn’t walked this path together before.
I put together a list of “Dos” and “Don’ts” that can serve as a guide if you know of someone walking this very difficult road. This is by no means comprehensive list and every single person is different, but these rang true for my journey.
- Say things like “I cannot even imagine.” “Is there anything I can do?” “How can I pray for you?” “I am so sorry.”
- Send cards, offer to bring meals (the last thing I felt like doing was cooking), bring by thoughtful gifts, flowers, call/ text, email, pedicures, movie night, etc. Let that person know that they are not alone and that people are supporting, caring, and loving them.
- Acknowledge the loss. It’s the elephant in the room if you don’t. Next time you see the person ask “How are you doing?” When the cards run dry and the emails stop coming, it’s hard to swallow that life moves on and people move on.
- Ask how the husband is coping. My husband now has an appreciation for the GUYS who have to go through this. He said the women get most of the support and attention and so often people forget to reach out and ask how the significant other is doing.
- For friends who hear the news, but find out THEY are pregnant! This was tough for my newly pregnant friends. I will tell you this: It is better to be kept in the loop, than not. It hurts 10x worse (even with good intentions) to be left out of that exciting news.
- Be sensitive (if you are pregnant) in how much you complain about your pregnancy. The aches, the pains, how big you are getting, your cankels, you are past your due date, you aren’t sleeping, etc. There are girls who would literally kill to be 10 months pregnant, looking like a whale. I was one of them. I actually had to get off social media for awhile because of this.
- Ask friends that you know have personally experienced a miscarriage to reach out to the hurting friend (if she is willing). I cannot stress enough how much more impactful the words are coming from the mouth of a girl who has actually walked through what you have. It was so nice to ask the random, “crazy” questions to someone other than a doctor with a medical opinion.
- Say things like “At least you know you can get pregnant.” “You can always try again.” “This was nature’s way of taking care of an imperfect baby.” While all these things are TRUE, it is not what you want to hear right away.
- The most hurtful one I heard was, “It wasn’t even a real baby yet.” I can’t tell you how hard that was one to swallow because I totally disagreed. I am not going to go into my political platform here but you never know WHEN someone considers it a baby or not. So don’t push your beliefs on someone who may not share them.
- Downplay things that may be helping the person cope. After I went through my miscarriage I had lots of sonogram pictures, letters I had written the baby, and pictures we had taken the day we found out. I decided I wanted to put these into a scrapbook because I had no idea where else to store them. I had a family member tell me that was not a good idea because it would have me “wallowing” instead of moving forward when in fact, it did just the opposite. I could move forward BECAUSE I did the book. Just because someone copes differently than you would, doesn’t mean it is unhealthy or wrong. Let the person do what is right for them. Naming the baby, having a memorial service, doing a scrapbook, or doing nothing. None of these things are silly or stupid. Whatever helps her find acceptance is the right thing to do and it will look different for each person.
- Ask “When are you going to try again?” The last thing on my mind was the NEXT pregnancy. I needed time to deal with the loss. I wanted THAT baby, not ANOTHER baby.
- Pretend like you know how they are feeling if you haven’t personally walked through it yourself.
- Compare. There is a difference in pointing the friend in the direction of another woman who has walked through a miscarriage, but to point out women who had later losses or stillborns and how much worse that was and “at least yours was earlier than theirs” in my mind downplays my loss. Yes ours was early on and for that I am grateful (I guess?), but I was still very attached and the loss was very hard. To talk about later losses as if they were so much harder invalidated my feelings over being heartbroken at “only” 9 weeks. ANY loss is a loss and they are ALL hard.
- Take it personally if the person does not call, write back, or reach out right away…if ever. The influx of support is AMAZING, but taking time to get back to every single person is a daunting and emotionally exhausting task.
I hope you found these guidelines helpful in case you know someone walking through this. For those of you who have walked this path, what are some other Do’s and Don’ts that helped or hurt you during your loss?