A miscarriage is one of the most heartbreaking experiences a person can have. Miscarriages are also extremely common, occurring in up to 1 in 5 detected pregnancies. This means that someone you love has likely gone through a miscarriage themselves.
The emotions and pain people experience from losing a pregnancy truly can’t be felt unless you’ve miscarried yourself. For this reason, it’s difficult to know what to say when a loved one tells you they’ve miscarried. Here are some simple things to remember when trying to support a friend who has had a miscarriage.
1. Let them feel however they are feeling
Whether it was a month ago or three years ago, it’s not likely that your friend has emotionally recovered from their miscarriage. Let them grieve the loss of their pregnancy, no matter how far along they were. Trying to brush it under the rug or minimize their experience will only make things worse.
2. Remind them it’s not their fault
It’s completely natural for someone who has experienced a miscarriage to try to place the blame and ultimately blame themselves. They replay dozens of different case-scenarios of things they could have done differently to prevent this from happening. Remind your friend that life is not fair and, unfortunately, this was something beyond their control. Let her grieve and be there to listen when she is ready to talk.
3. Ask and listen
Simply ask your friend how they’re doing. Louise Clark, a woman who opens up about her miscarriage, explains, “This simple question meant the world. It acknowledged the significance of what I had been through and made me feel less alone.” Your friend might not be able to express it well at the time, but they’ll really appreciate you reaching out to say you’re thinking about them. Experiencing a miscarriage is scary and can feel lonely, so showing that you are there for them whenever they’re ready will go a long way. If they do feel ready to talk to you, make it very clear that you hear and process what they’re saying.
4. Speak carefully, validate their feelings
Sarah, a 38-year-old woman expresses her frustration about talking to people after a miscarriage, "‘At least you know you can get pregnant.’ You have no idea how hard it is to get me pregnant.” Remember that you don’t know what your friend is going through and the worst thing you can do is to act as if you do. Think before you speak to avoid saying anything that might come across even the smallest bit insensitive. Don’t try to make light of the situation with “at least” statements or any type of language that might invalidate their feelings.
5. Be patient
It’s pretty unlikely that your friend will be receptive to your support right away. This doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate it. Give them time to grieve on her own and, when they’re ready, they’ll open up to you. She may not be able to express their gratitude towards you initially, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel it. The pain they’re feeling won’t go away instantly, so check in often and regularly.While being there for a friend who had a miscarriage isn’t simple, it’s the most important thing you can do for them. If you’re not sure where to start, you can never go wrong with a text saying you’re thinking of them and setting up a time to bring over a home-cooked meal. For more resources to guide some tricky conversations, visit the Stix blog.