You’ve found yourself in the delicate position of comforting a dear friend who’s just suffered a pregnancy loss. I have too. It’s a tough and sensitive situation, one that leaves many of us scrambling for the right words. As someone who has both experienced a miscarriage and who has many friends who have also, I have first-hand experience on how difficult this is. So if you are wondering what to say to someone who has miscarried and how to show empathy without unintentionally causing any further distress, I have some advice.
It’s not just about what we say, but how we say it and the genuine sentiment behind those words. I hope this post helps you navigate these communications with compassion.
Miscarriage can be a mystifying, often misunderstood event. It more often than not takes a women by absolute surprise with quick devastation. It’s important to remember that everyone experiences it differently. Some might grapple with feelings of guilt or wonder if they could have done anything differently. And yet, it’s crucial to understand that in most cases, there’s nothing anyone could have done to prevent it.
The Emotional Impact of Miscarriage
Imagine a rollercoaster ride. That’s how one might describe the emotional turmoil following a miscarriage. There can be a profound sense of loss, a grief that’s every bit as real as any other type of bereavement. It’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. This deep sorrow is often mixed with feelings of emptiness, anger, and a sense of injustice.
Don’t Forget the Physical Aspect of Losing a Baby
And then, there’s the physical side – an aspect that, sadly, isn’t always acknowledged enough. And many women go through silently as they “call in sick” from work. The body goes through considerable changes after a miscarriage. There can be physical pain, exhaustion, and a range of other symptoms. It’s a reminder that a miscarriage isn’t just an emotional event but a physical one too. Unfortunately my body needed help managing my miscarriage. And when the drugs did not work, I was left having severe contractions on my living room floor, requiring me to check into the L&D for an emergency procedure. In the wake of such a loss, it’s important to take care of one’s physical health, just as much as emotional wellbeing.
What to Say to Someone Who Miscarried
Approaching someone who has endured such a loss can be intimidating, so many of us worry about saying the wrong thing, but your words and actions can make a world of difference. Showing up uninvited, virtually or in-person, is the best way to offer compassionate and sensitive support.
Acknowledge Their Loss
First off, don’t shy away from the topic. Acknowledge their loss. You might say something like, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Simple, sincere words can often mean the most. It’s not your job to fix their pain, but to acknowledge it.
Avoid Hurtful Remarks
Avoiding hurtful remarks is equally crucial. Steer clear of lines like, “At least you can try again,” “Well now you know you can get pregnant” or “It’s nature’s way.” They may be intended as comfort, but they often do more harm than good. Instead, opt for phrases that express your support, such as “I’m here for you,” or “Take all the time you need.”
Be There to Sit and Listen
Finally, be there to simply sit and listen. Sometimes, the most powerful thing you can do is to offer a listening ear without judgment. Let them share their feelings, their fears, their hopes, and their memories. You don’t have to have the perfect words to say. Sometimes, your presence and willingness to listen are enough.
Practical Ways to Provide Support
When it comes to lending a hand to a friend or loved one who has experienced a miscarriage, your actions can speak volumes.
Show Up Uninvited
Now, ‘uninvited’ might sound a bit forward, but hear me out. Sometimes, what a person going through a loss needs most is to know they’re not alone. And showing up, whether it’s with a home-cooked meal or a shoulder to cry on, can make a world of difference. Respecting personal space is vital, so try to gauge their comfort levels. My best friend showed up at my door with a bag full of snacks. Her presence brought ease to my racing mind.
Support From Afar
When physical proximity is a challenge, there are still ways to show you care. Send a thoughtful card or care package. My friends who live across the country got together to send me pints of ice cream, and while I wasn’t much in the mood to indulge, the action made me feel their love. Making that phone call or setting up a virtual check-in can also mean a lot. Your words of comfort and support can traverse any distance.
Nurturing the Relationship Post-Miscarriage
The time after a miscarriage can be filled with raw emotions. Regularly check in on them, acknowledge the due date that would have been, and offer comfort on hard days. Most importantly, remind them that grief has no timeline, and you’re there for the long haul.
How can you help someone cope with the emotional aftermath of a miscarriage?
You can help someone cope with the emotional aftermath of a miscarriage by acknowledging their loss, listening without judgment, offering your support and understanding, and avoiding clichés or minimizing their pain. Let them know you’re there for them, and respect their grieving process.
Recognizing the Signs of Depression or Severe Anxiety – The Need for Professional Help
Now, to shift focus to recognizing signs of depression or severe anxiety – a reality that often accompanies the emotional upheaval following a miscarriage. So, what are some of these signs? Feelings of hopelessness, excessive sleeping or difficulty sleeping, loss of interest in daily activities, persistent feelings of emptiness, or severe mood swings can all serve as indicators. And, persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, that don’t respond to standard treatments, could also point to underlying emotional distress.
It’s not your role or responsibility to diagnose or treat these mental health issues. But what you can do, however, is encourage them to seek professional help if they’re displaying these symptoms. Be gentle, non-judgmental, and supportive in your approach.
Sometimes, the most impactful thing we can do for someone experiencing depression or anxiety after a miscarriage is to simply listen and remind them that it’s okay to seek help. That they’re not alone and professional assistance is not a sign of weakness, but strength.
Supporting Partners After a Miscarriage
Often when we discuss miscarriage, the focus is primarily on the person who has physically experienced the loss. And while it’s essential to support them wholeheartedly, we should not forget the partners too. They also grapple with feelings of loss and grief.
How Does Miscarriage Affect Partners?
First, partners can be experience a sense of helplessness. Watching a loved one grapple with physical and emotional pain and not being able to offer a solution can be tough. Second, partners may feel guilt. They might ruminate about what they could have done differently, even when they know it’s beyond control. Third, they may also experience grief. Losing a potential child is a significant loss, and the sadness associated with it can be profound.
Amid these feelings know that it’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to feel lost. And above all, it’s okay to seek help. As a supportive friend or family member, your role is to remind them of this and help them navigate their feelings in a safe, non-judgmental space.
Internet Resources and Online Support Groups for Miscarriage
For those seeking more information or support following a miscarriage, there are a wealth of online resources and communities available. Sites like the American Pregnancy Association and the Miscarriage Association offer information about miscarriage, from medical perspectives to emotional support resources. DailyStrength and the BabyCenter Community host forums for individuals and partners dealing with miscarriage.
Let’s not forget the positive power social media can have in this aspect too. I personally searched through archives of people I knew years prior who had posted about their miscarriages. Just even reading their stories gave me comfort that I was not alone.
Being present and acknowledging the miscarriage is a significant part of the healing process for those affected. Never underestimate the power of simply being there, and offering an empathetic ear to someone navigating this difficult life event.