October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month and on Sunday night my timeline was full of candles lit for the #waveoflight done every October 15th in memory of lost babies everywhere.
More and more women are speaking out about their experiences of miscarriage. It’s so encouraging to see the solidarity and friendship emerging from a place of such sadness.
Despite this openness, there still seems to be that degree of awkwardness when it comes to talking to someone who has had a miscarriage.
From experience I know people find it hard to know what to say to a couple who have lost their baby. When we had our miscarriage, friends and family wanted to be supportive but simply didn’t know what to say.
Here’s what we found to be helpful (and not so…)
Let her know you’re thinking of her.
It can be hard to know what to say. So tell her that. Saying “I don’t have the words but please know I’m thinking of you” is so much better than not saying anything at all out of awkwardness.
A quick “you’re in my thoughts” text just to let her know you’re thinking of her could mean the world to her.
Listen to her.
This one may seem obvious but just listen to her. Be a shoulder to cry on. You don’t even need to say anything. Just let her vent. Let her be angry. Let her be sad. Let her grieve.
Realise she may not want to talk about her miscarriage.
On the other hand she may not want to talk about it all. That’s ok too! There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
Don’t put a time limit on their grief.
Again, everyone grieves differently. Just don’t expect her to be “back to normal” within a couple of weeks. All that will do is show her she can no longer confide in you and she will keep her feelings to herself.
Don’t forget Dad.
I realise I’ve written “her” and “she” a lot during this post but please remember the baby had a dad as well as a mum. He is also grieving while trying to support his partner/wife and deserves the same level of compassion.
Things I did not find helpful:
- “You’re lucky you have another child to focus on.”
Please don’t use the word lucky when relating to anything to do with miscarriage. There’s nothing “lucky” about it.
- “It’s all part of God’s plan”
Great. Well with all due respect, God can take a hike.
- “Do you think it was something you did?”
This was actually said to me by an ex colleague. It haunts me even now, over six years after our loss.
Please also don’t imply others have had it worse. There are so many heartbreaking stories of loss but that doesn’t negate someone else’s feelings. They’re all completely valid.
I understand it’s hard to know what to say. But rather than offering empty platitudes just offer a shoulder to cry on. Just be there.
Just be a friend.