While talking about miscarriage is becoming more mainstream, it’s hard to know what to say (or do) for someone who has had a miscarriage.
Do you bring it up? Wait for her to bring it up? Or ignore the elephant in the room?
While each situation is unique, you can support someone who’s had a miscarriage by empathizing with them, by using language to acknowledge their loss, and by offering practical assistance.
Understanding the Incomprehensible
Trying to understand what a miscarriage is like is extremely difficult, as it varies from person to person. How far along the pregnancy was, how the mama found out she was miscarrying, or even her initial thoughts as she was losing her baby create complex emotions that can drive her coming days.
Having suffered a miscarriage yourself puts you in a unique position to understand some of these emotions and may give you a window into how best to support your friend.
However, I’m a firm believer we can all work to understand the incomprehensible.
Sometimes understanding another’s experience (especially one you haven’t had yourself) is just about being present. It’s about getting deeply involved in her life, spending time together, and embracing friendship. The fun times, the messy times, and the tear-filled times are all foundations for understanding (and supporting) a friend in need.
What to Say to Someone Who’s Had a Miscarriage
If you know someone who’s had a miscarriage you must say something.
You don’t need poetry, an eloquent speech, or a recounting of your own losses. Just speak from your heart. If talking is too hard, a text message, a card, or even a social media post are good substitutes.
If you’re unsure what to say, Lindsay, from Pinch of Yum, recommends these basic phrases (and I couldn’t agree more):
● I just want you to know I’ve been thinking about you so much over the past weeks.
● You’ve been on my heart.
● I just want to acknowledge that it’s probably really difficult for you to be here today.
If you’re looking for something more specific, try speaking her baby’s name, connecting with her on her baby’s due date, and remembering to reach out around holidays like Mother’s Day.
Some of the most supportive words I received after the miscarriage of our baby were in a voicemail I listened to again and again. A voicemail I never did respond to.
Do know that your friend won’t necessarily reciprocate. She might not respond to your message, she might not continue conversations. She hears what you’re saying (or writing) though.
Using your words to connect with someone who’s had a miscarriage is the most important thing you can do.
What to Do for Someone Who’s Had a Miscarriage
Some people are talkers and others are doers. While I think that verbalizing is essential, doing things is a tangible way to love someone.
Following my miscarriage I encountered physical complications that took significant recovery time. A core group of friends supported me (in all ways) throughout this time.
Here are some practice ways to support someone who’s had a miscarriage:
● Babysitting older children.
● A plant, some flowers, or something little to commemorate baby.
● A few groceries, that can be used as needed, or a meal pre-frozen that can be heated up without hassle. Food is always appreciated.
● Running errands, collecting mail, returning library books, etc.
● Consider purchasing an Umbrella Box. These boxes include items chosen, assembled, and wrapped specifically for your grieving friend.
Just offering to help is important. I had friends who offered to help, who I could ask for any needs at any time. If I didn’t ask they just provided.
From impromptu lunch deliveries to groceries left on my doorstep, they fulfilled needs I didn’t know I had (or was too weary to express) without requirements for me to repay the kindness.
Offer to help, and find an unobtrusive way to fulfill a need.
Continue the Support
Grief is multifaceted; it ebbs and flows. Consider continuing your support through kind words and small gestures as the days and months go on.
When I became pregnant following my miscarriage, I was surprised to find myself a ball of anxiety. I relied again on my close friends as I worked through the grief and began to look ahead to meeting my rainbow baby. Gifts for my rainbow baby and unique ways to honor rainbow babies were extremely meaningful.
Your words matter, your gifts are appreciated, and the time you invest in friendships are all so important.
Check out Pinch of Yum for more fantastic ideas about what to do if your friend loses a baby. You may also want to purchase Umbrella Boxes or Rainbow Baby Boxes for a close friend.