Getting pregnant these days isn’t an easy task for everyone. For some, it can be an emotional and physical roller coaster of fertility drugs, injections, procedures, ultrasounds, and anxious waiting games. And unfortunately, sometimes all that effort still does not result in a healthy pregnancy. Last week, in a 24-hour period, three of my friends told me they had just lost babies. My heart broke for each one of them, and I asked myself, “What can I do to be supportive? What is the right thing to say?”
I did a little research on ways to really show your friends struggling with the loss of a pregnancy that you care. Here are a few tips.
- Listen- Sometimes you don’t have to say much at all. Be there to listen to their story and their concerns. Let them know they can confide in you if they need to vent, cry or talk. Let them know that you won’t judge their decisions on how to proceed, whether they need to stop trying for a while or turn right around and try again. Offer them a safe place to be vulnerable, to break down if needed. Don’t tell your own stories or offer cliches like, “Whatever is meant to be, will be,” or, “At least you know you can get pregnant,” or, “At least it was early,” or, “You can try again.” That is not what they want to hear.
- Reassure- Let them know that it is normal to grieve and it is ok to feel sadness and loss. Women usually feel blame for a miscarriage and although they shouldn’t blame themselves, this is a normal reaction. Reassure them that everything they are feeling and thinking is normal. This grieving will lead to healing. And remind them to be kind to themselves.
- Go Slow- Everyone heals differently. Do not expect your friend to bounce back right away. It may take months for them to be able to move on and heal. Be aware, they may still have open wounds for a while, and that’s ok. Offer to take them out for a girls’ night after a while, but don’t be upset if they aren’t ready. Healing takes time!
- Offer to Help- Maybe they have an older child that you can take for the day or maybe you can drop off dinner. They may not feel like doing much right after the loss and taking something off their plate may give them more alone time with their partner to process things. They may refuse your help, and that’s ok too. Some women push through by staying busy, trying not to focus on the the loss. Ask them what you can do to help.
- Step Back- Don’t run to them immediately. Give them space. Drop off a card or flowers, but don’t expect to visit with them unless they show they would like the company. This is personal and not your business. Let them know you are there, but allow them space. Sometimes sending a small gift may be appropriate in memory of their child.
- Don’t Forget the Dad- Women are not the only people who grieve after a miscarriage. Men feel the loss as well and may also feel somewhat responsible. Listen to, reassure, and offer to help them, just as you would their partner. Remember that men grieve differently than women and there’s no right or wrong way.
Hopefully, this will help you help someone you care about who may be grieving a loss of a baby. Please share your comments if you have any additional tips.