One in four women will suffer a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss in their lifetime. That is not an insignificant number, and chances are, you will be there to see a loved one go through it. Nobody ever wants to see a friend or family member suffering, and you may feel at a loss as to what to do or how to help.
Here are a few ideas for what you can possibly say or do that may ease the pain somewhat — or simply lessen their life load while they go through the grieving process.
Know what to say (and what not to say). Acknowledge their emotional and physical pain and validate that the loss and the grief are real, no matter how early or late the miscarriage happened. The emotional hurt can be just as intense. Avoid cliches (“Everything happens for a reason.”), bringing up the potential of future pregnancies, and toxic positivity when supporting a grieving friend, such as statements that start with, “At least…” Follow your loved one’s lead if they say their baby’s name, and don’t hesitate to say the name, too. If you’ve had a similar experience, offer to share your own story. Let them know that what happened isn’t their fault — but also know when to be silently supportive.
Let them talk about it — and listen. While you may find it triggering to broach the subject with your loved one, not talking about it can often make it harder to heal. Someone who has experienced a miscarriage may want to tell their story more than once, and they may just need someone to listen, rather than offer advice.
Don’t forget the dads, partners, spouses, and siblings. Though they may not be suffering physically, they are grieving, also. Offer support and a listening ear.
Take action by delivering a meal or running an errand. When people are grieving, it’s typical to default to saying, “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” But it’s not easy to ask for help and reach out during hard times. Simply have a meal delivered, send an e-gift card for takeout, drop off a coffee, or shoot a text saying something like, “Hey, I’m going to [insert name of store], what can I get for you while I’m out?” or if they have other children, “When can I babysit your kids so you can take some time alone?”
Send a card, text message, or email. Sometimes just knowing that others are thinking of you and/or praying for your healing can be a comfort.
Ask how you can best support them. Everyone grieves differently, and sometimes it’s easiest to just ask. Do they need you to listen? Do they need a good hug? Do they need someone to just sit in silence with them?
Acknowledge the loss, and give them time. Do say something. Don’t pretend that it didn’t happen. Even if it’s as simple as, “I’m here if you need to talk.” If you reach out and your loved one doesn’t respond right away, don’t take it personally — they may just need time.