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How to Help a Friend Who Has Had a Miscarriage

This is a blog post that I’ve been meaning to write for a very long time now.   Not that I’m an expert, I had one miscarriage at 9 weeks.  That’s it.  I know there are many people who have had 10+ miscarriages or who were much further along than I was.  However, this is just something that is not talked about enough, as I have learned throughout my experience.  I also have had several people approach me about how they could help a friend who went through a miscarriage.  Everyone is different, so please take what I say with a grain of salt.  But here are things that helped me and may help others as well.

Miscarriages are particularly hard because most of the time not many people know you are going through one.  According to Verywell.com, 15-20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage and 80% of those occur in the first trimester.  At that point, very few people know that you are pregnant and its kind of awkward to go around telling all the people that do know that your baby didn’t make it.  Most females feel that it is like this huge inner battle that can’t really be talked about. So here are a few things you may want to know if someone you know has just miscarried.

  1. Offer specific help:  Do not just say things like “Just let me know if you need anything” or “I’m here if you need me.”  I was in such a place of shock that those blanket offers of help were appreciated, but never used.  Say things like, “Can I bring you dinner tonight?” or “Can I come over and watch your daughter, so you can rest?”  My best friend came over, brought me food, watched my daughter, and cleaned my kitchen while I took a nap.  Another friend brought over dinner after my surgery.  I would never ask someone to do these things, although I know my friends totally would.  I needed people to think of how to help me and offer it.  I didn’t even know what I needed because I was really in shock and your hormones are just going completely crazy.  It really helped me when someone suggested a way they could help and all I had to do was answer yes or no.
  2. Don’t forget about dad:  I’m assuming mostly females are reading this blog.  If you are close enough to your friend that you know about the miscarriage, then hopefully you have some sort of relationship with their significant other so please don’t forget that they are going through a loss too.  If you or your husband/boyfriend is friends with dad, please have them reach out.  I don’t know why it is viewed as strength to not talk about or acknowledge feelings in the male community.  In our situation, Aaron (my husband) was trying to be strong for me, but that left him carrying the weight of the loss on his own.  I would just be bawling my eyes out and he would try to stay strong and comfort me.  After about a week of doing that, he broke down.  I had a lot of people helping me, but not many of his friends were reaching out to him.  It is different because their body isn’t physically experiencing the loss like the female does, but nonetheless it is still a loss for them as well!  Those hopes and dreams of them playing with their child are now gone as well and that is not something to take lightly.
  3. Send texts, cards, notes, hugs, prayers, etc.: I was way too sad to talk, whether on the phone or in person.  Every time I would talk about it, I would just cry uncontrollably.  I didn’t want to constantly be sad, but at the same time I needed to process.  For me, I was better at written communication (I know not everyone is like this).  I really really appreciated the texts that people sent.  If you are close enough to know that someone miscarried then you are close enough that a text from you will be appreciated.  I didn’t like for friends to just “leave me alone” because I already felt alone in dealing with such a loss.  I really loved when people just texted me that they were thinking of me and praying.  Or just texted to ask how I was doing.  Miscarrying is like this hidden thing, so it helped hearing from the people that knew about it.  Just seeing me and giving me a big hug made me feel better too because I felt that those people were mourning with me.
  4. Give space, but still gauge when that person needs to talk: This is easier said than done.  I did not like when people just pretended that everything was fine or normal.  I felt like I was carrying this huge weight of sadness.  BUT at the same time I didn’t want to talk about it right away.  Again, if you are close enough to know that this person miscarried, then hopefully you know them well enough to gauge when they need someone to talk to.  When you see this person, I think it is okay to ask them how they are doing.  I really would stay away from questions about future babies or plans unless that person brings it up.  Also, please do not use phrases like, “It was God’s will.”  I don’t think that it is God’s will for babies to die and I think it actually does more harm than good when people try to bring comfort by using a phrase like that.
  5. It’s okay to talk about/acknowledge your pregnancy:  Okay this is a tricky one and just remember that these are MY thoughts only.  Not everyone thinks like this….   Although I struggled with losing a baby, I was not automatically mad at all my pregnant friends.  I miscarried, had a D&C, and literally had a maternity shoot 2 days later.  I was nervous, but I was surprisingly happy for my client and enjoyed capturing that joyous occasion for their family.  This does not mean I wasn’t a little jealous.  I definitely was.  You are just a mixed bag of emotions.  I wasn’t upset at my pregnant friends, but it was hard sometimes because it just reminded me of what I didn’t have.  At the same time, I didn’t want my pregnant friends to feel weird around me.  I love my friends and I was truly happy for them, but sometimes it just brought up emotions and it would take me time to process after spending time with them.  I didn’t like it when pregnant people were tiptoeing around me and not acknowledging the obvious though.  Just a rule of thumb…please try not to complain about being pregnant to someone who recently has been through a miscarriage.  One time I asked a friend how she was doing and she responded with, “I’m pregnant, how good can I be?”  I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.  At that point I had been trying to get pregnant for 7 or 8 months (after the miscarriage) and I wanted it so badly.  The girl who made this comment is a nice person, don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure she was just having a hard day (being pregnant is NOT always easy), but I was just not the right person to express that frustration to (she was aware of my circumstances).  If you need to complain, that’s what your tribe is for.  Go to them, complain all you want.  Just be aware of your words when talking to someone who has recently miscarried or is dealing with infertility.

sunflowers-14That’s all I have, I hope it is helpful to you guys!  I know this is a tricky topic.  Feel free to leave a comment about what helped you after your miscarriage or ask me a question!  I hope this blog can spark some conversation.

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