After suffering from a miscarriage I was made painfully aware of how ignorant the average Joe is to pregnancy loss. From brutally worded responses telling us to “just try again,” to being told that I “wasn’t that pregnant,” to having our loss completely ignored, an overwhelming amount of our friends and peers had less than positive responses to our miscarriage. It quickly came to our attention that people simply did not know what to say to or do for us in our time of need. While this shocked me, I believe it is the result of decade after decade of our society percieving pregnancy loss as a thing of shame. Something best kept hidden away and never spoken of again by the woman or her partner.
When preparing this particular post I did a bit of admittedly limited research. I reached out the women in my online infertility support groups. I asked those women to talk about their experiences post-miscarriage and describe any positive interactions that they’d had. Some struggled to think of one person who’s reached out to them, and that is truly heart breaking. Their descriptions of their family and friends responses afterwards have been almost unanimously negative, and I think it’s time to change that.
So in a sea of articles on what not to do or say or send to a friend experiencing this loss, here is one on ways to show them that you care.
1. Sometimes simple is best. A simple “I’m sorry for your loss” wether verbal, in a card, or a note is always appreciated.
2. Send something to remember their child by. Potted flowers, memorial stuffed animals, jewelry, weighted bags, or hand made items were big winners amongst the moms I spoke to.
3. Feed them. After our loss I could barely bring myself to get out of bed, let alone cook and clean up after a meal. Easy home cooked freezer meals or take out gift cards are always a welcomed support.
4. Help with child care. We were childless at the time of our miscarriage but this was a big one with the women I spoke to. They were physically and emotionally drained and that made caring for their other children especially difficult. Take the kids to do something fun that will distract them from their mothers tears and sadness while giving mom a much needed break.
5. Give them time and space, but make sure they know you’re there for them when they need you. Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace.
6. Acknowledge their grief and loss as something real, with out giving advice. To that family that is the loss of a child. A new pregnancy will not replace the lost one.
7. Share about your own loss. Knowing that you are not alone is comforting. Knowing someone else has been there and persevered is empowering.
8. Talk about it. Don’t tip toe around it or ignore it. Miscarriage happens, with some estimates as high as 1 in 4 pregnancies. I personally felt like it permanently changed who I was. To have something so impactful ignored is to have this new part of yourself ignored.
9. Check in regularly. Long after our bodies heal and new cycles begin, the emotional scars of miscarriage still remain. Some women experience post partum depression or anxiety after a miscarriage. A text message or email every once in a while let’s them know you’re still there whenever needed.
10. Be understanding of their fears and anxieties when they become pregnant again. I don’t think anyone expects to have a miscarriage. It’s shocking and terrifying, and when you see those 2 pink lines again your fears are suddenly rushing back.
On a final note: miscarriage effects men too. The child we lost was as much my husbands as it was mine. My suggestions were specifically geared towards women because I had access to a very limited number of men who’s partners had experienced miscarriage or pregnancy loss. I would love to hear your suggestions on how we can support our men during such a trying and emotional time.