- Fertility & Reproductive Systems
7 Ways to Help a Friend Who Has Had a Miscarriage
1. Acknowledge the Loss. Say "I'm so sorry."
There is not much you can say when someone goes through a miscarriage. It is a devastating loss, whether this is her first miscarriage, or one of many. She may have a child or multiple children, or she may not have any children yet; regardless, a loss is a loss and no matter what, it hurts. The best thing you can say in this situation is, "I'm so sorry for your loss". That says it all. You're acknowledging the loss, and letting her know that you feel for her in this time of sorrow.
2. Give her a Hug (Physical Comfort)
Nothing says you care like a hug, a touch on the shoulder, or another form of physical comfort (whatever may be appropriate considering your relationship). Sometimes physical comfort says what our words cannot express. Sometimes using many words just adds to another's grief. However, be careful with this one if the person is only an acquaintance or someone you don't know very well. If she is your best friend, or at least a close friend, by all means give her a hug and let her feel the warmth and comfort of your embrace--let her just feel that you're there physically.
3. Don't say, "I'm sure you'll have another one" or "At least you can get pregnant", etc.
Don't say, "You're young. I'm sure you'll have another one." You don't know that. You don't know her health issues or circumstances. She may not be able to have another one (or one at all). She may be adopting a child someday, or fostering. She may not have children. Don't say, "At least you can get pregnant." While she knows this is true, she is grieving the loss of her baby right now and it's very hard. Getting pregnant isn't always much comfort if the pregnancy ends in a loss. Even if she does have a healthy pregnancy someday, she still has to grieve this pregnancy. She still has to grieve this loss. And she will always remember this baby for the rest of her life.
4. Listen to her
There is perhaps nothing more powerful than listening to another person when he or she expresses themselves. Too often, we are quick to speak and offer up our own opinions or feelings about a situation. But that's not necessarily what she needs right now. Let her direct the conversation and encourage her to talk about her emotions as she processes everything. Listening to her feelings and acknowledging them will help her as she goes through this difficult time of mourning the loss of her unborn child.
5. Don't Avoid Talking About It
When I had my miscarriages, I really wanted to talk about it with others. I wanted to let my feelings out and find encouragement and comfort. But I found that some people felt very awkward about the whole situation. They went out of their way not to talk about it with me. We were even invited over to dinner by some well-meaning friends, and the whole evening passed by without them so much as mentioning the miscarriages (and they definitely knew the events had taken place). I didn't say anything of course, but it hurt that this otherwise loving couple felt so awkward about the situation that they didn't even offer up their condolences to me and my husband for our losses, or see how I was doing. In contrast, a young woman whom I do not even know very well at all, saw me at church and asked how I was doing. She said she was sorry for my losses and asked if we were going to try again. I said, "Yes." Of course the conversation did bring me to tears, but that was better to me than not even acknowledging my pain. She asked how I was. She talked about my babies that I lost. She encouraged me just by talking about it and not walking on eggshells around me. So don't avoid talking about your friend's miscarriage. She has not forgotten about it and you are not reminding her of some hidden pain when you bring it up. Trust me, it's something she thinks about every single day.
6. Cry with Her
If we listen to biblical wisdom, we are to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. So cry with her. Let her cry on your shoulder. Let her cry to you at 3 am if she wants to. Encourage her to let her grief and sorrow out. Crying and grieving isn't a bad thing. It's part of the natural process everyone goes through. So don't say, "Don't cry." Don't get weird if she gets emotional. Let her be sad, and encourage her to feel her feelings, as raw and real and genuine as they are.
7. Be Available
Be available for her in the coming weeks and months. Don't expect her to "get over it" and move on instantly. The grieving process is cyclical, it's not a straight line. Knowing you are there for her as a friend and that she has you to talk to, comfort and encourage her, will be a huge blessing as she continues to process what has happened and find healing.