Helping a friend through a miscarriage - What do I say?
Helping a friend through a miscarriage can bring up many questions, such as, "What do I say?" "What do I do?" Have you ever asked yourself these or similar questions? Comforting someone who is dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy, and it can be even more difficult when it is the death of a child through miscarriage. One reason this is so much more difficult is that friends and family have not actually seen and held this baby. However, that is no reason to tread upon the grief of the one who has suffered the loss most personally.
When a woman has a miscarriage, she has lost a child - a child that she alone has held tenderly within her womb, a child she has loved and anticipated rocking to sleep and cuddling in her arms, a child she may have talked to and sung to, and caressed by rubbing the bulge in her belly. No one fully understands your friend's grief, because each person grieves differently. There seems to be a common thread through the stories of most women who have had a miscarriage, though. It is that, more than anything, they just need someone to be there to listen and to comfort them.
Most women want to talk about what has happened to them, and be allowed to express their sadness and emptiness now that their baby has died. Don't be afraid to talk about the baby, or the mother's loss. Do not turn away or change the subject if your friend wants to talk about these subjects, because that would show that you care more about your own comfort than her grief. Helping a friend through a miscarriage involves being a sounding board, listening to her grief, holding her hand, or offering a literal shoulder to cry on as needed.
It's okay to tell her that you don't know what to say. You might tell her how sorry you feel that she lost her baby. Share the joy you experienced with her when she told you about her pregnancy. Most of all, let her know that you care. Even though most women want to talk, your friend may not be at that point, so don't "expect" her to say or do anything.
Ask your friend if she has done anything to provide a tangible memory of her baby. If she has not but would like to, you might be able to help her. Some people hold a memorial service and/or have a marker placed on the grave where their child is buried. Others want something they can keep in their home such as a stuffed animal with a birth certificate, which is made up with the baby's name and other information. For many parents, some type of memorial is very helpful in their grieving process.
Offering to help your friend in a physical way - cleaning, cooking, answering the phone, driving her or older children to where they need to go - can be a great relief. However, don't give a vague offer of help and expect her to call you when she needs something. She may be in no condition mentally to remember who made the offer, and probably won't want to burden you with her needs anyway. However, she would probably be very glad to have you step in to take care of some of the routine things that need to be done -- things she is just too numb to care about. Remember, too, that other family members will be grieving in their own way and that should also be respected.
Let me offer a word of caution. Comforting your friend does not mean offering platitudes or trying to explain why she lost her child or trying to make her "get over" her loss. This is her loss, and it always will be. The baby she lost is no less a part of her life than if a birth had taken place. Do not tell her how to grieve, and do not make her feel that she is being judged for how she grieves (or for the fact that she lost her child). Society tries to "sweep it under the rug" and tends to make the mother feel like she is wrong for grieving. Be considerate her feelings.
Remember, the grief should not be for the child, but for the parent(s) now left without the child. The child is now in heaven, and if the parents know Jesus as their Savior they will one day see their child again.
Learn More About Miscarriage
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