This time of year is always a reminder for me of the three babies I’ve lost. All miscarried before the end of the first trimester, and within six months of each other. It was a very rough time for our family. In some ways, it still can be. My husband and I can’t help but wonder – would it have been a boy or a girl? Curly hair like our son? Would they have liked to read, or climb, or draw? What would their favorite food be? What would our family be like now if we had that little baby in our arms, instead of in our hearts?
October is SIDS, Pregnancy, and Infant Loss Awareness Month; and October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I figured this would be a perfect time to share some things that I found comforting from friends and family when I miscarried.
More often than not, if you haven’t been through one yourself, you’re not sure what to do or say when someone is miscarrying. I went through that dozens of times, as I worked in an Emergency Department for three years before my first miscarriage. At least once a day, a woman came in with a miscarriage or threatened miscarriage. And I’m sure I was insensitive at times. I hope by sharing these ideas with you, that you can provide comfort and healing to your friend who is going through this.
First things first, it’s okay to just say, “I’m sorry.”
The friends who didn’t feel the need to talk, but hugged me and let me bawl and try to work through my feelings were the ones who provided such a tremendous amount of emotional healing.
In our effort to comfort, we can say a lot of hurtful things, like, “This just means you can try again!” or “It wasn’t even a baby yet.” And, yes, people do say things like that. Sometimes it just comes out, because in our effort to get a woman or couple through an emotional difficulty, we think it best if they just stop crying. Not necessarily.
Let your friend get her feelings out – they could be sadness, anger, shock, or any number of things. And it will change with time. Those feelings may even come and go for a year or more. Losing a child through miscarriage is a time of grief and mourning.
So it’s okay to just say, “I’m sorry.”
Acknowledge their loss.
It can get uncomfortable for people to deal with friends who are grieving. I mean, it’s messy business. It requires time, effort, emotional investment, and physical presence. But just being willing to speak about the miscarriage or the baby will help your friend heal leaps and bounds. They want other people to acknowledge that their baby was a person too, a person that they lost after they had dreamed of meeting and spending lifetimes together.
You can show your concern and love immediately through stopping by with a card, or flowers, or dinner. I can guarantee they won’t feel like cooking, and they may not even feel like eating. Not only are they going through the emotional turmoil of grieving, but they are also still experiencing physical symptoms of childbearing. Even women early in pregnancy will have major cramping, pass lots of blood and tissue, and may even see their baby after it passes. So you can see why a meal or vase of flowers will help.
During my first miscarriage, we received outpourings of support from family and friends. Our best friends came by with flowers and a card, and sat with us for a while. I cried, and my husband didn’t really feel like talking. But both of our friends understood that and gave us the support we needed. My parents brought dinner up and did the dishes afterwards. My in-laws sent flowers and a card. A friend sent us a poem that helped with our emotional healing so much. (I’ll share it at the end of this post.)
Remember their loss.
A few months after your friend loses their child, ask them, “How are you doing since the baby died?” Some women may want to talk about it, and others may not. But just the fact that you asked, and that you remembered they had a baby that they lost, will mean the world to them.
Even a year later, or a few years later, you can ask how they are doing or send a card. Just knowing that other people haven’t forgotten your baby creates a peace of mind. A friend of mine shared this beautiful blog post that another lady wrote specifically about this topic. It’s called “Please Don’t Forget About My Child“. It’s a great read to get an idea of how a parent feels after infant loss.
I used to feel really uncomfortable asking a co-worker about the daughter she lost. Each year, she would bring it up on her birthday, or mention briefly that her son talked about his sister. And I never knew what to say. Once I had miscarried, I realized the best thing I could do was ask her about her baby.
Lastly, know that you’re doing a wonderful job by trying.
It’s hard when you don’t know what to do for someone who is grieving. The fact that you are here, reading this, means that you want to help your friend.
Start out by stopping by their house with a little bit of food and a card, with the poem below tucked inside. This poem means so much to my husband and I. I wanted to share it with others who’ve experienced loss because of the peace it has brought us.