Through my journey with miscarriages, I have come to realize what I need from friends in ways of support after a miscarriage. I have also come to realize that unless you have been through one, it can be very difficult to know what to say (and what not to say) as the friend of a mother who has lost her child due to miscarriage. I’ve been jotting notes on and off over the last few months and figured it was time to put them in a post instead of keeping them buried on my cell phone. I realize there isn’t going to be great flow between points because they were written over several months. Either way, I hope this helps if you ever find yourself in the position of supporting a friend through a miscarriage.
Here’s a few things you can say/do:
1. Say anything. I’ve realized that people often go silent in fears of saying the wrong thing. In my opinion, saying anything is better than saying nothing. I have felt very alone/frustrated/eat and a quick hello or even chatting about what is going on in someone’s life is a welcomed conversation. And if you say the wrong thing, but with the best intentions behind it, that’s ok. I’d rather you reach out than not say anything.
2. If you say something like “Let me know what you need” or “Feel free to reach out if you need to talk” or “I’d love to get together with you soon” please please please follow through. I know often times these phrases are tossed around as the polite thing to say during a difficult time, especially when you don’t know what else to say. It is an automated response in a time of crisis, words that society taught you to say. This is important though: If there is no intention of making good on these offers, then please do not offer them. I realize people are busy and time flys by quickly, but if this isn’t an offer you can make a priority then please don’t make the offer. In my opinion, this does more damage than never saying anything at all. If you can’t make good on an offer, but feel compelled to offer your help or company. A simple “I’m sorry for your loss” is more than enough and always very appreciated. There is nothing worse than reading one of the above phrases, finding the strength to admit that yes- I need help or support or company or some distraction and then:
a. Never hearing back.
b. Realizing it was an empty offer.
c. Realizing that you didn’t expect me to accept your offer so now you are free but not for another two weeks.
d. Realizing that you didn’t expect me to accept your offer so now you play naive and gloss over the fact that I was accepting your offer for help/support/company. I realize people are busy and time flys by quickly, but if this isn’t an offer you can make a priority then please don’t make the offer. In my opinion, this does more damage than never saying anything at all. If you can’t make good on an offer, but feel compelled to offer your help or company. A simple “I’m sorry for your loss” is more than enough and always very appreciated.
3. Pick up the phone, dial my number and press send. Everyone has become so dependent on texting they have forgotten the importance of a real phone call. In my opinion, a text is a very impersonal way of communicating, one that often creates space rather than bringing people together. This may be a personal one, as I do not like texting in a general sense, and dislike it even more when the subject matter is a difficult or personal one. Nonetheless, a simple 5 minute call will speak volumes and mean so much. *Edit: This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the texts I have received. It just means that I personally prefer to talk over the phone than via text. I’ve always been that way, and it probably won’t change. I never fully jumped on the “communicate only through text” bandwagon, but again- I do appreciate knowing I am thought of by receiving a text. 😊
4. Don’t assume I don’t want to be part of your hike/bbq/beach trip/picnic/dinner/birthday party/afternoon by the pool/group ice cream outing/etc because there will be kids and/or babies present. Leave the decision of not going up to me. It is tough feeling like I’ve been left out because I don’t have children, or left out of activities that I was once invited to. If I’m not feeling like being around children on a specific day, I will excuse myself from the activity, but will know that I was thought about and included.
5. “I’m sorry for your loss”. A miscarriage is just that, a loss. It is the loss of a child’s life, the loss of hopes and dreams for the a future. The couple going through the miscarriage are grieving a death, and while it may be difficult to understand hopefully anyone can recognize when another is grieving and can be empathetic towards that.
6. “When you’re ready, here’s a book/support group/blog I came across that you may find helpful”. Maybe you don’t know what to say, but almost anyone can look up reviews of a book or google support groups online. What better way of showing you care than trying to offer a source of help even if you can’t give the help & support yourself. *Edit: I have received a few messages asking about support groups since putting this post up last night. The one I have found most helpful so far is a nation wide organization call Resolve. They have a local support group which holds monthly meetings, and their website has been a great resource of information. A second support organization I like, although have not utilized as much, is Hope After Loss.
7. “My friend “Sally” had a miscarriage last year, here is her email if you ever want to reach out to someone who has gone through something similar.” If you yourself cannot relate to the emotions of having a miscarriage, maybe you know of a friend/family member who can and you’re willing to connect the two people as a show of support. Of course, check with your friend/family member first and then play support matchmaker. I know this has really helped me, knowing that a mutual friend connected me with someone who has been through their own battle with infertility and while I have only spoken to them a handful of times, it is nice to know that there is someone there if ever needed.
8. Ask “How are you feeling?” and then listen to their answer. There is nothing to fix, nothing to brainstorm a solution to, and nothing that requires an opinion or response (unless you are asked for one). Sometimes all that is needed is a friend to listen. If their answer is in any way a deflection, then realize that a conversation about the miscarriage is not what is needed in that given moment, but that doesn’t mean that you should never ask again. Instead, in that moment of deflection, change the topic and know that you will still be helping your friend go through their process
9. “What are you doing today? Want company?” Mind you, I may still be in my pj’s, I may still be in the same spot on the couch since 8:00 this morning, and I may not remember the last time I brushed my hair but I would love your company; I just am not strong enough to ask for.
Here’s a few thing that, in my opinion, should never be said. I am not going to give any of these an explanation at this moment as several of them still upset me. Yes, I have had people say some of these and yes, it hurt. It still hurts, which is why I won’t be including any side notes on these statements. Maybe I will in a future post, we shall see.
“Maybe it wasn’t your time yet.”
“At least you were able to get pregnant.”
“You can always try again.” (often a “try again soon” is added.)
“God/nature determined it wasn’t time for you to have a child yet.”
“Maybe it was for the best.”
“Oh wow, what happened?!”
With no real intention of following through on the offer: “Let me know if you need anything.” / “If you ever need to talk, do not hesitate to reach out to me.”
“That’s why I didn’t tell anyone I was pregnant until my second trimester, I didn’t want to jinx myself.”
“You can always adopt.”
“Have you thought about a surrogate yet?”
“Maybe there was something wrong with the baby so it’s for the best.”
“At least you weren’t farther along.”
“How soon until you can try again?”
Chances are, you know your friend and what they would need in a difficult time. If you are unsure, the main thing to remember is that what is most important is your kindness, empathy and compassion. Treat your friend as you would hope to be treated if you ever had to go through something similar.
Until next time,