Ways to Help a Friend After a Miscarriage
How can you help someone who has gone through a miscarriage? I have never had a miscarriage, but I have many friends who have. My heart just aches for them, and I want to make sure I am doing things that are helpful and encouraging to them. These suggestions come from my friends who have gone through the trial of losing a baby, a speech I heard on the subject, and also from a dear lady who leads a Grief Share Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss group.
What is my friend feeling after a miscarriage?
This obviously changes from person-to-person. Don’t assume that everyone will be devastated. On the flip side, don’t assume that everyone will overcome the loss quickly – or ever. Each person grieves differently. And it is never wise to set a time limit on grief.
What should I NOT say to my friend after a miscarriage?
If you don’t read anything else, I hope you’ll read through this section; that is why I am putting the "what NOT to do"s before the "what TO do"s. My friend who had a stillborn baby said (sadly) that the things she remembered the most were the hurtful comments. Our friends have enough pain without us adding to it by saying thoughtless things.
Don’t ask questions that imply that your friend had anything to do with the miscarriage. Chances are really good that she is already questioning every single activity she participated in since she got pregnant and feeling extreme guilt. One lady wisely said, “Healthy babies are born to crack mothers in 3rd world countries.” Your friend’s guilt is not based on reality, but questions like, “did you take your prenatal vitamins?” or “do you regret taking that overseas trip?” or “maybe you shouldn’t have run that 5k” just are not helpful.
- Don’t say, “at least you have other children.” This may be true, but it undermines the value and preciousness of the child who was lost.
- Don’t feel the need to add stories about yourself or others you have heard about. Let this time be about her sharing.
- Don’t say, “Call me if you need anything.” It puts the burden on them to call you, which is not an easy thing to do.
- Don’t say, “Four kids in such a short time are too many anyway.” Does the value of a child decrease if there are more children? What if we, or one of our children, were eliminated for convenience’s sake? Any flippant attitude should be avoided.
- Don’t belittle the loss with words like: Losing a parent is harder than a miscarriage or a little child.
- Don’t say, “You’ll have another child someday.” There is no way you can know this.
- Don’t say that miscarriage is very common. Many hard things in life are common; it doesn't make them less hard.
- Don’t ask if she is going to try to get pregnant again. This is a personal question. If she wants to venture into this topic, let her be the one to bring it up
- Don’t say, “Something must have been wrong with the baby and this was God’s way of taking care of it.”
One other note: if your friend had a stillborn baby, please be careful not to say anything about a miscarriage or compare her loss to someone who has experienced a miscarriage. The two losses are apples to oranges.
What can I SAY to my friend after a miscarriage?
You should definitely say something! Maybe you feel awkward or don’t know what to say, but please put your feelings aside and let these moments be about how your friend is feeling and her needs. Don’t pretend that nothing has happened. Your friend has lost a little part of herself. Saying something communicates that you care and that the baby is important. I will list some things my friends have found useful, but please don’t say these things unless you mean them. Fake conversations are not helpful.
- “I’m sorry.” You don’t have to know how to answer all of her questions or meet her every need. Sometimes it is better just to be simple. Don’t forget Proverbs 10:19: When words are many, sin is not absent (NIV). There is nothing you can say that will immediately remove her pain.
- “How are you doing?” If she doesn’t want to talk, she will change the subject, and you will too :). Many of my friends work through hard times by talking about them. Be available to listen. And don’t be afraid of tears. If she needs to cry, that’s okay! You didn’t make her cry; she was already sad.
- “I’m praying for you.” And then really do it. Pray that she’ll have the strength she needs for each minute. Pray that she’ll be encouraged by her family and friends. Pray that God will reveal Himself to her in new and sweet ways. Pray that her body will heal physically. If you run out of things to pray for her, ask her for prayer requests.
What can I DO to help my friend after a miscarriage?
- Send a card. It is really fine to say “I am at a total loss to know that to say. I can’t begin to relate to what you’re going through, but I just wanted you to know how sorry I am for your loss and that I care and love you and will be praying for you.”
- Give a hug.
- Send flowers.
- Remember the due date. Mail a card or take over a little gift on that day.
- Visit her if she is in the hospital (don’t take your kids with you - bring something like a Good Housekeeping magazine instead).
- If she has been invited to a baby shower, offer to buy a gift from both of you and take it. She may not be ready to be around babies for a while.
Call and offer specific things:
- When can I bring over a meal (or a pan of brownies)?
- When can I watch your kids so you can have a break?
- When can we go out and get pedicures (or a cup of coffee) together?
- What can I help you with? (returning library books, picking up groceries, washing laundry, driving kids to soccer, etc.)
The skill of listening cannot be rated too highly in a friendship. Good friends know how to listen to each other, especially during tough times. Just simply listening to your friend is likely the best way to support her as she grieves.
Sadly, miscarriage is relatively common. I have no doubt that many who read this article will have experienced one. If any readers would feel comfortable sharing ways that others were helpful during your hardest times, I would love to learn from your suggestions.