Since recently sharing online about our journey of trying to start a family, I have met many new friends. Women who have experienced miscarriages themselves, and also women who are journeying with a friend through her miscarriage. Both types of friends have had questions for me. But the more questions I’ve received from people, the more I’ve realized people have questions about how to help a friend and how to ask for help when you are facing it. I speak on behalf of many women and couples in our same situation, but please know I am speaking generally here. Everyone’s situation is unique and should be treated that way. So here are ten suggestions of how to help a friend through a miscarriage.
- Be present with her. I had countless friends offer to come to my house to just sit with me, especially because my husband was out of town on a business trip while I was experiencing the miscarriage. I was so appreciative of this, and would have taken them all up on it if my brother wasn’t already on his way out to visit. Go out of your way to be physically and emotionally present.
- Make her a meal. Not many people knew we were having a miscarriage because it was still early on, but my co-workers and some church families who knew of our situation offered to make us a meal. At first, I kept turning people away and telling them I was fine, but a few of them did it anyways. They said if I didn’t want it now, I could put it in the freezer for later. And you know what? I ate every one of those meals when they brought them. I didn’t know how much physical pain I would be in and that it would last for a couple days straight. I had nothing left in me to be able to cook, so those meals blessed me so much!
- Let her talk when she is ready. Put down your expectations of when she should be processing with you, even if you have personally experienced a miscarriage before. Every woman will experience this process differently, so holding expectations over anyone’s head will not make the healing process move any quicker. Be available, but don’t be pushy about where your conversations go. Let the griever process and come to you when she is ready to talk about it.
- Talk to her. Sometimes this can be the hardest because you don’t know what to say. And I can’t necessarily tell you what to say since I don’t know the woman you are trying to comfort. But I personally appreciated when my close girlfriends acknowledged my pain and let me talk about it, but then set it aside so we could talk about something else. I didn’t want it to be all about me all the time, and there were weeks that I just didn’t want to talk about it at all. I just wanted to hang out with women who knew what I was dealing with and would just talk normally to me.
- Don’t give advice. This one killed me. We all have good intentions, but I think every woman would agree that while she is grieving the loss of her baby, she is not looking for opinions. Saying things like, “good thing you weren’t too far along” or “just stop thinking about it so much and that’s when you will get pregnant again” are absolutely NOT helpful. A miscarriage is painful no matter how far along you are. Just throw those phrases away right now. You will never need them. I promise you.
- Communicate constantly. The truth is, we don’t know how we are going to feel tomorrow. The random pregnant woman in line at Walmart could be just an after thought, or could send us spiraling down in tears. Hormones play a big role in that too, so every woman could respond differently from day to day and we can’t always control it. We want to be out of this funk and done with the hormones, but we don’t know how to do that. Be patient with us. Ask us how we are feeling TODAY. In the moment.
- Don’t distance yourself. If ever we needed our friends, it is now. The easiest thing to do is to distance yourself when someone is hurting. But try to fight that urge. Invite her to things. To events. For dinner. To the normal activities you would do together. And don’t give up on her if she says no. Keep being persistent.
- Don’t shelter them. Pregnancy announcements may hurt, but we still want to rejoice with you on your exciting news! Just about every time I hear another friend is pregnant, I cry. Sometimes for a minute, sometimes for an hour, and sometimes even longer. But I really am happy for that friend. We know that the world doesn’t get put on hold for us, and we don’t expect it to. What’s hard for people to understand is that God created us to be able to experience grief and joy at the same time. Crying about it is healthy, but that is something for my husband and I to carry together, not for anyone else to carry. And what hurts the most is finding out your friend is 7 months pregnant but decided not to tell you for the first 7 months they knew about it.
- Don’t exclude her to protect her. So you have an upcoming baby shower but want to be sensitive to your friend because she just had a miscarriage. Rather than just assuming she wouldn’t want to come, ask her! The only way to know where your friend is at is to ask. Ask if she wants to be invited to your baby shower, and give her the chance to decide for herself.
- Remind her that it is not her fault. The enemy would love for any woman to convince herself that she did something to cause this or to deserve this. That something is wrong with her. This is SO not true. And we know that, but reminding someone of that can be crucial. We need to hear it at least few times from others and need to say it out loud to ourselves often.
If you have experienced a miscarriage, I would love to hear what helped you the most. Any suggestions that I didn’t mention already?
(Original image found here)