This is the first part of a three-part series on miscarriage. Future parts will discuss practical and spiritual considerations for miscarriage.
Our society does not think or talk much about miscarriage. For many, miscarriage is a silent form of suffering. Sadly, many couples endure the loss of a child through miscarriage. It is estimated that as many as one in four women experience a miscarriage in their lives.
My prayer for you is that you never need the information contained in this series, but I know there are many women out there who are silently suffering. I myself am a woman who has suffered through a miscarriage.
If one of your loved ones is experiencing a miscarriage, it is important to recognize that your loved one needs extra love and support and that there are several ways you can be a loving friend.
- Pray. The most important thing you can do for your friend(s) who is going through a miscarriage is to pray for them. Pray for the couple’s physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. Pray for grace to be a good friend during this challenging time. Pray for the Lord to protect them from outside stress that will make the loss of their child harder.
- Be very sensitive about what you say. Treat your friend the same way you would treat anyone else who lost a loved one. Do not try to solve your friend’s problem. Do not think that you know what your friend is going through or why they are going through it. Also, do not offer medical advice if you are not a doctor.
- Tell your loved one you are sorry for the loss of her child and remind her that you are there to listen if she would like to talk. Your friend may or may not feel like being around people. She may or may not feel like talking about her miscarriage. In the same way you would listen and be present through any other suffering, offer to listen as she directs the conversation about the loss of her child. If she does not want to talk about it, offer to just be with her. If she does not want to be around people, she will appreciate that you offered.
- Whatever you do, do not say nothing. Don’t avoid your friend out of fear that you will remind her of her loss. Acknowledge her pain. She will never forget your presence or lack of presence.
- Check in. Make sure to check in on your friend a few days after your first meeting and follow up on anything you have offered to do.
- Acknowledge your friend’s loss. Take your cues from the mom. If she talks about the baby by name, use the baby’s name. If she refers to the baby as a boy or girl, do the same. Follow her lead.
- Make a meal. A woman going through a miscarriage is experiencing physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma. It is an incredibly challenging and exhausting time. Bringing over a meal is a helpful way to acknowledge the great loss she is experiencing. Offer to drop off the meal. She may or may not want you to join her.
- Send a card or flowers. Your friend will appreciate the fact that you are treating the death of her unborn child with love, seriousness, and kindness. Miscarriages are often not talked about, but that does not mean they are not incredibly painful. Your friend will never forget that you sent a card or flowers commemorating her child.
- Do not trivialize the loss of her unborn child no matter how early in pregnancy the loss occurred.
- Do not refer to the loss of her child as “pregnancy loss.” A woman who has miscarried is not experiencing the loss of morning sickness, or bloating, or a period of time. She is experiencing the loss of a child. Acknowledge the child.
- Do not begin any statement with the words “at least.” There is no “at least” that the mother wants to hear or that will help her.
- Write the due date/month in your calendar and circle back. Significant dates associated with a deceased loved one (such as a birthday or anniversary) can be hard for loved ones. In the case of a miscarriage, the due date of a baby who was miscarried can be a painful time for a mother. Checking in to see how the mom is doing during this time can be very helpful.
- Don’t forget the husband! Often, caring for a couple who has lost a child through miscarriage focuses primarily on the mom. Remember that your friend’s husband is grieving, too. Take time to check in on him.
- Do not expect your friend to be fine. Remember that your friend lost a child and will need time to heal. Also remember that the pain of losing that child—just like the pain of losing any other loved one—may come up at various times in the future. Be ready to listen!
- Be extremely sensitive if you are pregnant or have just had a baby. Do not take it personally if it is too hard for your friend to be around you at this point. Remember that she is grieving.
- Remember your friend on Mother’s Day. She is a mom, and she will appreciate you acknowledging that. Do so delicately.
- Remember your friend’s husband on Father’s Day. He is a father, and he will appreciate you acknowledging that. Do so delicately.
Read part 2 discussing practical considerations during miscarriage.