by Clara Hinton
When a friend miscarries a baby, the friendship often becomes very uncomfortable because everyone is at a loss about what to do or say during the painful adjustment time of coming to terms with the loss. Well meaning friends will often say things like, "Cheer up. This is only a temporary setback. You're young. You have lots of time to try again." Some friends will make the comment, "At least you miscarried early before you had time to get too attached." Still, other well-meaning friends will make the comment, "The baby was probably going to be born with all kinds of problems. You wouldn't want to deal with anything like that. It's best that you miscarried. You can try again in a few months."
Words, when spoken carelessly, can bring additional pain to a couple who has just experienced the heartbreak of loss. Friends should be a great source of support to a grieving couple, but all-too-often the friendship ends simply because of not knowing how to help a friend who has miscarried.
What does help?
Offer to help with chores. Following a miscarriage, the shock of loss can make it almost impossible to think clearly enough to complete even the everyday routines of life. Friends can help tremendously by organizing meals for the first few weeks following a loss and see that the meals are delivered cooked and ready to be eaten. Simple errands like picking up the mail, picking up items at the supermarket, and taking care of the laundry are a tremendous help, too.
Send a card. It's important to know that a friend took time out of his or her busy schedule to send a note of encouragement and to say, "I care." So often, the worst feeling following a loss is the feeling of being all alone. A card is a genuine way of showing that you care.
Be a good listener. Miscarriage is something that is never expected, can occur quite fast, and without any warning. A woman may experience very heavy bleeding and passing of clots and tissue which can be very frightening. It also may be necessary to have a surgical procedure called a D&C to remove all of the remains of the miscarriage. For many women, this is their first hospital experience. This, too, can be scary, especially since there are so many major events taking place so fast.
A couple needs to have friends who will allow them to tell their story of loss. Talking of their loss is often the only way a couple has of validating the fact that they really were expecting a baby. Friends who are good listeners are crucial to healing.
Acknowledge the loss. Don't be afraid to ask, "How are you feeling?" Couples who have gone through a miscarriage need to know that they have not been forgotten. It's important to know that others remember and care. Don't assume that parents stop thinking about the miscarriage after a few weeks. Loss has a way of resurfacing months later. It is healing to know that friends are still there and that they still care.
Finally, when at a loss for words, simply pull up a chair and sit with your friend who has experienced a loss. Share a tear together. A shared tear from a friend is understood in every language and will help bring healing and hope to any broken, lonely heart.
Clara Hinton is a Certified Grief Facilitator, founder of The Silent Grief Website, and the author of four books, including Silent Grief. She is the author of a weekly newletter and has contributed to Christian Woman and Church and Family magazines. Clara speaks on college campuses on grief and is a keynote speaker at women's retreats. She has been interviewed on radio stations across the nation and appeared on various TV programs. Clara is a stay-at-home mother of eleven children and wife of 31 years.
Copyright © Clara Hinton. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.