I’ve mentioned this before, but the way our community has loved and supported us this last week has blown me away. It’s been so healing to be able to walk through this with support and to talk about our experience instead of keeping it silent. Since miscarriage is such a personal thing and not everyone has experienced it, I’ve found that a lot of people are at a loss as to how to respond in the wake of such an event. This list, of course, is personal, but I wanted to share some ways that you can support a friend who is going through pregnancy loss (or a prolonged battle with infertility, for that matter.)
1. Say Something (Anything!)
When you haven’t experienced something first-hand, it can feel super awkward not knowing what to say. Before this year, I was in that camp, too. I’ll admit that I read a few posts about miscarriage and had a hard time understanding or empathizing with what those women were going through. I’m ashamed to admit that when I don’t know what to say, sometimes I don’t say anything at all for fear of saying the wrong thing. But being on the other side I can say that every word and acknowledgement of what we were going through meant the world to both of us.
2. Provide Hope
If you’ve experienced a miscarriage or multiple miscarriages, share your story with your friend. In the wake of our experience, the most helpful thing anyone could do was to share their personal story and give us hope. After a miscarriage it’s incredibly easy to feel hopeless or scared about the future. The women who reached out to me and let me know that I wasn’t alone and that they, too, had walked that path gave me so much hope for our family’s future. Yes, everyone’s journey is different, but miscarriage and multiple miscarriages can feel very lonely. Your story, if you have one, could be of great encouragement.
3. Bring Flowers
I was shocked, truly shocked, at the number of people who brought us flowers over the past week. Our house feels like a floral shop, and it’s beautiful and joyful. Seeing those flowers has been a tangible reminder that God makes all things new, that He creates beauty from ashes and gives us hope for tomorrow. Flowers are also a small way to say that things are going to get better eventually and they gave me a reason to smile.
4. Insert Yourself Just a Little
I got a lot of e-mails from friends saying “If you need anything, just let me know.” And while I know that they all truly meant that, it was hard for me to cash in on any of those offers. I was still able to cook dinner and my mom came to clean my house, so I felt silly asking for any of those things. Many friends simply said, “I’m coming over, just for a bit, to drop something off. I won’t stay long.” It was just what I needed. I wanted to see people, I wanted a hug, I wanted someone to shed a few tears with me, but I didn’t want to say that. I needed people to insert themselves into my personal space just enough to know they cared.
5. Be Honest & Sensitive
As I’ve mentioned before, both of my sister-in-laws are pregnant, and we were supposed to be having our babies at the same time. Hearing my sister-in-laws, Amber and Ali, cry with me and say, “This sucks. This isn’t fair,” really helped. I don’t blame either of my sister-in-laws for being pregnant when I no longer am, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. I feel left out and it’s hard to think about this fall when their babies will arrive and our baby should have been born. Hearing both of them express their own sadness and frustration helped ease my own pain and made me feel less alone and left out.
6. Bring a Gift Card
Joe and I haven’t been having much fun lately, as is to be expected. We’ve been grieving and trying to take steps forward and processing what has happened. Life feels pretty serious lately, and at one point I think I went a full 3 days without showering. When Amber and Jake brought us a gift card to Cheesecake Factory it was such a bright spot in our weekend. We needed an excuse to go out, get dressed up and do something fun. Although it feels strange/wrong to have fun when we’re so sad, I’m looking forward to the date we now have scheduled on the calendar. Having little things to look forward to makes a big difference.
7. Do Normal Things Together
Saturday night we had a group of close friends over to watch the Final Four and eat snacks. It was my idea and Joe liked the idea of having something normal to get our mind off what we were feeling. With close friends, it’s nice to feel that you can do something relatively normal without having to pretend that you’re anything but normal. Our friends showed up, cried a little with us, then took the topic off the table for the rest of the night and acted like nothing had happened. It wasn’t avoiding the topic, it was just giving us a little reprieve from focusing on our miscarriage.
8. Keep Thinking of Them
The first few days after a miscarriage are a flurry of activity. Lots of notes, texts, calls, etc. I even had a surgery on the horizon that I was preparing for which occupied some of my thoughts. It wasn’t “exciting” but people were thinking about us and grieving with us, which was nice. But days later it can start to feel lonely again. Life moves on when you don’t feel like moving on yet. Friends who called or texted or e-mailed on the day I returned to work or a few days later just checking in really helped me along the way, both last time and this time. Let them know that although life is moving on, they are still on your mind and their pain isn’t forgotten.
9. Remember Everyone is Different
These are just my personal experiences, and the way each individual person deals with miscarriage is different. Some women may find it hard to be around pregnant women or little kids, or find it hard to talk about their experience. Personally, I want to talk about it. I want to process and share, but not everyone may feel the same. If you’re in doubt, just be open and ask your friend what helps, what is hard and what would be most useful for them. I guarantee that just making the effort will mean the world.
If you’ve experienced miscarriage and have anything to add to this list, I would love to hear your thoughts below as well.