This one is a subject close to my heart, having walked this journey twice before, and some of you will have too. My best friend and her husband recently lost their little one, and it has freshened up those emotions again that never really go away completely. As I’ve seen her courageously walk through this, my heart has ached for her grief, yet also rejoiced in the life that she carried for a short but significant time. You are eternally changed!
I remember some of those things that were said to us that were so affirming and encouraging, and some of the others that, although well intended, just deepened the pain.
The estimate on how often a miscarriage takes place is usually either one in every four, or one in every five pregnancies. Despite how common a miscarriage may appear, it can be a life-altering experience, and the loss bears its affects both physically and emotionally.
Let’s call it what it is: a miscarriage is the death of a child. It is not merely a failed pregnancy, or nature simply taking its course. Whether you’re 4 weeks along or much further, the loss is no less significant. As with any loss, grief is something that is personal and different for each person. You’ve also lost the hopes and dreams that you have carried for your child, regardless of the length of your pregnancy.
If you have other children, you may find that holding them helps to find a resting place for your love and longing, but they don’t replace the child you’ve lost.
A decade has passed from my first loss (of two), and yet still it has a deep and immovable effect on my heart. I’m forever changed.
I look back on those experiences, and I’m grateful for the love and support we were given by those around us. Not everyone knew how to help us or what to say. For those that lose earlier on in their pregnancy, speaking about their loss carries some risk as not everyone will respond with a level of compassion or understanding.
Can I offer some suggestions as to how you can help comfort a friend through their loss?
What To Say
- “I’m so sorry for your loss”.
- “I’m praying for you”.
- “I’m here for you”.
- “How are you feeling today?”
- “What do you need from me?”
- “It’s OK to feel the way you do”.
What To Do
- Be available to listen
- Be patient with where your friend is at, and how long it may take to walk through their loss
- Send cards, flowers, and words of acknowledgement for your friend’s loss
- Drop off a meal and/or some groceries
- Offer to help with housework or children
- Send a text saying your thinking of them, but don’t expect a reply back.
- Remember the first anniversary
What NOT To Say
- “You’ll have other pregnancies”.
- “When will you try again?”
- “Try not to think about it”.
- “At least you weren’t too far along”.
- “You have your other children that you can focus your attention on instead”.
The thing that touched me more than anything, was when people used my babies names, and acknowledged them as precious and valued lives.
I also found the the simplest words, kindest gesture, and the ongoing words of love as time went on, were the most significant and helpful as I journeyed through our loss. Sometimes people got philosophical, or tried to say too much, and it often made the pain worse. If you don’t know what to say, simply say “I’m so sorry for your loss”. If you don’t know how to help, just ask. Be prepared if your friend doesn’t want to talk about it, or perhaps doesn’t want to hear about what is happening in your life just at that moment.
Just love them, listen to them, and offer yourself to be and do whatever they need. Pray for the Father surround them with His presence, and be His hands and feet in their life.
Even if you don’t understand or can’t identify with your friends journey, you can still lovingly help them as they walk out their loss and grief in the days and weeks ahead.