Getting pregnant 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 those efforts still do 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.
Sometimes you don’t have to say much at all. Be there to listen to her stories and concerns. Let her know she can confide in you if she needs to vent, cry, or talk. Let her know that you won’t judge her decisions on how to proceed, whether they need to stop trying for a while or turn right around and try again. Offer her a safe place to be vulnerable, to break down if needed.
Don’t tell your own stories or offer cliches like these:
Whatever is meant to be, will be.
At least you know you can get pregnant.
At least it was early.
You can try again.
This is not what they want to hear.
Let her know that it is normal to grieve, and it is okay 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 she is feeling and thinking is normal. This grieving will lead to healing. And remind her to be kind to herself.
Everyone heals differently. Do not expect your friend to bounce back right away. It may take months for her to be able to move on and heal. Be aware, she may still have open wounds for a while, and that’s okay. Offer to take her out for a girls’ night after a while, but don’t be upset if she isn’t ready. Healing takes time!
Offer to Help
Maybe she has an older child that you can take for the day or maybe you can drop off dinner. She may not feel like doing much right after the loss and taking something off her plate may give her more alone time with her partner to process things. She may refuse your help, and that’s okay too. Some women push through by staying busy, trying not to focus on the loss. Ask her what you can do to help.
Don’t run to her immediately. Give her space. Drop off a card or flowers, but don’t expect to visit with her unless she shows she would like the company. This is personal and not your business. Let her know you are there, but allow her space. Sometimes sending a small gift may be appropriate in memory of her child.
Don’t Forget Her Partner
Women are not the only people who grieve after a miscarriage. Partners 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 in the comments if you have any additional tips.
Editor’s note: This post originally published on April 5, 2016 and was reviewed and updated for republication.