There are so many ways to support friends going through pregnancy loss and miscarriage. Miscarriage or stillbirth seem like the big elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. As much as it seem like a taboo to share your miscarriage with someone, it is very common. I will be sharing tips on how to support a friend going through pregnancy loss. You will be surprise that at least one or two people you know has gone through a loss. It is estimated that 1 out 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. With such a high estimate, it is sad that the society we live in make it uncomfortable for women to share their loss without guilt. It also makes it uncomfortable for people around to know how to provide support to a friend, sister, coworker, neighbor who is going through pregnancy loss.
From my experience, I noticed a lot of people are scared to bring it up or simply ignore your current situation. Not because someone is not speaking about it publicly does not mean they are not speaking about it at all. Personally, I didn’t have any problem with people providing support or talking about it, it just depends on the avenue or direction they bring about it. If you know someone going through a pregnancy loss, here a tips on how to provide support
How To Support Someone Going Through A Pregnancy Loss
- Be Present And Listen: Be present and listen to their needs. I noticed a lot of people send their condolences in the early stages, but forget to follow up on their friends wellbeing. Allow your friend to talk about the loss and follow her lead. Be an active listener and let you nonverbal language show sympathy. You don’t have to ask for details if they are not emotionally ready to share; but let your presence be know. Also, it is not your job to make the pain go away and that’s not what they are asking from you. They simply want your undivided attention, presence and continuous support. Phone calls, text, visits can be helpful in the following weeks and months.
- Be Sensitive: Pregnancy loss is not one week, one month fix up. Don’t expect them to be fully ok the next few months or even a year. Going through pregnancy loss for me was a roller coaster journey. One day I was ok, the next day might be an emotional filled day. Be sensitive to the changing emotions which can range from sadness, anger, depression, resentful etc. Be sensitive when sharing other’s pregnancy announcements or inviting them to baby showers. It is not because they are selfish or unhappy for the individual, it is simply because they are going through an emotional difficult time and it has nothing to do with you or the person. Don’t be judgmental!!! Also be sensitive with your words of encouragement. Don’t say things like: “Don’t worry about it, you have a healthy child!” or “You will be pregnant again, you’ve gotten pregnant before!” Don’t compare one friend’s miscarriage or stillbirth to another. I remember a friend telling me that her friend who had a miscarriage got over it quickly and she is doing great. At that point, I felt like she was expecting me to be over it by now and have fun.
- Check In Regularly: Check in regularly on your friend. It might be uncomfortable or confusing to know what to do; but don’t ignore or stop contacting them. A lot of people seem to only check in the day, week or month after the loss and then go completely silent on the issue like it never happened. The months after the loss can be a lot lonely and difficult and it’s ok to ask your friend how she is coping. Ask her if she needs anything. You might probably get the answer, “I am ok”. This does not mean you should back away. Set up a lunch, coffee, movie date or do any of their favorite activities. Grief is not a week, one month thing or one time thing. Learn to check back in and continue to offer your support.
- Offer To Help: Offer tangible ways to help and commit to it. Don’t ask, “What can I help you with?” or the classic line, “let me know if I can do anything for you”. You will most likely not get an answer. I remember a friend asking me to let her know when to grab a bite. That was the last thing I wanted to hear or remember. Find an area of need and offer your assistance. Just show up, listen, clean, cook with her and simply show your love and less advice. If your friend has a child, offer to babysit for few hours so that the couple can have some time alone. Stop by with their favorite dish or meal or a gift card to a restaurant because pregnancy loss/grief can be physically/emotionally draining. You can also offer to help with cleaning or offer a cleaning service.
- Be Patient: Don’t put a timeframe on their grief. Also, don’t take the behavior of a grieving mom or dad personally. They might ignore your phone calls and text messages. They were days when I didn’t care to answer or return calls, texts or emails. Be patient, compassionate and continue to reach out. Personally, there were times when I stopped responding to some messages because I was in this sunken hole were minutes felt like hours, and days were blank. I was simply trying to find a way to deal with the pain and healing. Grief is not something that is linear. It can flare up at anytime and any moment. Don’t expect your friend to be ok the week or month. They might be ok today, doesn’t mean they are not still grieving. Don’t speed up the healing process and ignore its existence.
- Don’t forget the Dad: As much as the focus is on the mom because they went through the physical pregnancy and birth, don’t forget the dad is also grieving. As much as my husband tried to hide and mask his emotions to be strong for me, he was going through a tough emotional journey. Also lend your support to the dad. There’s no “mancho” in grief.
Based on my experience, I learnt to be mindful how you approach or treat someone going through a pregnancy loss. I didn’t want to be pressured to speak especially if I was ignoring your questions about my pregnancy and it wasn’t personal. I was simply focusing of my pain and healing. On the other hand, I didn’t want my friends to ignore the loss or not bring it up.
If you have gone through a loss, what tip or advice would you give someone who has a friend that’s going through it right now?