How to Support a Friend After Miscarriage Without Overstepping
About 10-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. However, the actual number is likely higher because most occur during the first trimester before a woman may even know she’s pregnant. These statistics may come as a shock to many people, perhaps because the topic is so taboo. Couples tend to keep the news quiet because there’s an assumption that something went wrong. Yet, this is rarely true. In most cases, the fetus simply didn’t develop properly and, thus, couldn’t reach full term.
Although miscarriage is relatively common, it doesn’t make it any easier. Moreover, suffering in silence can alienate women and their partners and make healing difficult. That’s why it’s so important to reach out and comfort those going through this traumatic experience.
Perhaps you know someone who has recently miscarried, but you’re unsure how to help. What if you say or do something insensitive? If you’ve never gone through a miscarriage yourself, you might worry about overstepping. Even if you can’t begin to fathom their pain and sadness, you can still lend comfort.
If you’d like to learn how to support a friend after a miscarriage, try the thoughtful ideas below to convey your sympathy and remind your friend just how much you love them and support them during this difficult time.
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It’s hard to empathize with someone who’s going through something so difficult as a miscarriage, especially if you’ve never experienced one yourself. Luckily, there are plenty of books, videos, and other resources available to help you better understand such an event.
Learn more about what the process entails – both physically and emotionally – by reading firsthand accounts, medical literature, and informational articles. The more you know, the more confident you’ll feel approaching and consoling your friend.
Offer a Listening Ear
While it is meaningful and helpful to share your condolences, sometimes it’s better to listen than talk, especially after a miscarriage. Instead of giving advice or sharing stories of when you felt sad or angry, simply be quiet and give your friend space to talk.
Of course, some people might want to be alone, but eventually, your loved one will likely open up and share their feelings.
Show your attentiveness with gestures and eye contact and refrain from interrupting. The story of bereavement is a hard one to tell, so they’ll likely want to get through it without fielding questions and remarks along the way.
Ask About Their Partner
Asking about how one partner is without recognizing the other can be hurtful, even if you don’t mean it to be. While you’re obviously concerned about the person who carried the baby, their significant other is grieving, too.
How are they coping with the loss? Grief shows up differently for everyone, so it might be difficult to recognize.
For instance, your friend might openly cry in the weeks and months following the miscarriage. Meanwhile, their spouse or partner may mask their emotions in an effort to be strong. Others might feel angry or numb.
Recognize these feelings as valid and consider how they might affect their relationship. The more you can imagine yourself in their shoes, the more sensitive and thoughtful you’ll be in response.
Say the Baby’s Name
If you’re visiting your friend to listen to her recount her miscarriage, prepare to talk about the baby.
Hearing others say their baby’s name can help both partners heal. Meanwhile, acting like the child never existed during the grieving process could do the exact opposite. You might feel awkward or unsure of how the parents will react to hearing the name, but the small gesture will show them that you care not only about them, but about their lost child, as well.
Make or purchase something in memory of the baby to gift to your friend. Maybe it’s a Christmas ornament with their name on it or a thoughtful quote or saying. Whatever you send, make sure it’s encouraging and personal. If it has meaning to you, it will likely hold meaning for whoever receives it.
If you do not live close by and can’t make a visit in person, sending fresh flowers is a great way to show you’re thinking of them. Flowers can bring life and joy into their home during this challenging time.
Remember to include a handwritten note with the bouquet to encourage and uplift your friend. Every time the couple looks at those flowers, they’ll be reminded of your love and support. Maybe they’ll even give you a call to talk things out, which can do wonders for their well-being.
Make Space for Messy Feelings
It’s surprising how physical grief can be. Whether your friend holds onto their feelings or expresses them outwardly, difficult emotions will make their way through the body. It’s only a matter of time.
Unfortunately, keeping them inside can cause inflammation and fatigue, weaken the immune system, and prolong other ailments that may or may not have existed before the miscarriage.
Give your loved one the space to grieve and release those pent-up emotions sooner rather than later by making room for messy feelings. Let them cry, scream, and fall apart when they need to and validate those reactions as they happen. Grieving people need to release pain and stress to heal and, if you can facilitate it, all the better.
Deliver Homemade Meals
In the weeks and months following their miscarriage, your friend may slip into depression. Perhaps they’ll ruminate about what they could have done differently or what might have been. Often, they’ll be angry, lonely, unmotivated, and unable to concentrate, which can make it incredibly difficult to work or complete basic household tasks.
Instead of asking if there’s anything you can do to help, make a few meals and deliver them to their doorstep. Your friend can’t refuse food you’ve already made and dropped off! Plus, it’ll take some of the pressure off them to carry on with mundane tasks when it feels like their world is falling apart.
Allowing Time for Grief
Whether your friend has experienced this deep sadness before or this is their first time losing a child, one thing is certain: grief has no timeline. How long they’ll take to heal will depend on many different factors, including how long they carried, if they picked out a name, and whether they’d already begun decorating the nursery.
Regardless of how quickly you think they should recover, it’s important to allow months, even years, for them to grieve. In the meantime, focus on being a true friend. Remind them that you’re here for the long haul and no amount of sadness or time apart could stop you from being friends.
Figuring out how to support a friend after a miscarriage can take time, but if you come from a place of empathy and authenticity, you’re unlikely to overstep.
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