Miscarriages are incredibly common; nearly one in four pregnancies ends before the due date. Unfortunately, this subject is just too painful for most people to talk about, so it can be difficult to find community or to figure out how to take care of yourself when faced with this kind of heartbreak.
As friends and supporters, it can be challenging to show your love for someone who loses a child this way. When I lost my first child, many friends reached out to share kindness, and many weren’t sure how to help.
Here are a few ideas to help a friend who has experienced a miscarriage:
1. Call her.
Even if your friend likes to disappear when she feels bad, leave her a message just saying you are sorry this happened and you care. If she answers, ask if she wants to talk about it and if so, just listen. Really, just listen and say variations of “that must be really hard,” and “I am so sorry that happened,” and you'll be fine. If she doesn't want to talk, don’t take it personally.
2. Offer her space.
Send a card, and email, or leave a message validating her need for quiet time. You might say something like, “I know this is hard and you might want to be alone. I am thinking of you and here if you need support.” For many people, quiet reflection is important in healing.
3. Ask if she needs distraction.
One of my close friends swooped by on her way to a movie. Going with her provided three hours of entertainment (and dark movie theater crying) that I totally needed but wouldn’t have done on my own. Offering healthy forms of distraction can be a great relief to friends who need a break from grief, too.
4. Bring food.
For so many people experiencing trauma, it can be especially difficult just to meet basic needs. Eating is important to healing, so help them take care. Check to be sure you know their current dietary needs, and then bring them something to eat. Other basic needs that can help greatly are: offering yard work, providing childcare, dropping off groceries, getting the mail, taking out the trash, or doing the dishes.
5. Invite her to join you on your self-care plan.
Experiencing trauma can make it difficult to make decisions. By inviting your heartbroken friend, it can make it easier for them to make good decisions for their own self-care. Take them with you to get a mani-pedi, drive them to the gym, bring them on a hike, walk them to yoga, whatever your routine is, ask them gently to join you. Trust they know themselves well enough and will join if they want (no pressure). The invitation alone will go a long way for your friendship.
6. Validate their self care choices.
When I had a miscarriage, one of the hardest things for me was to take time away from work. However, every time a coworker checked in with me they said, “It’s so great you are taking time away,” which really helped me feel confident in my decision to stay home and rest and heal. Validating the challenging decisions your friend is making can have lasting impact; even when the decision seems small.
7. Respect their boundaries.
While some of your friends may want to talk openly about their miscarriage, others may never want to speak about it. Make sure you ask, “Is it okay to talk about this?” before assuming it's okay to ask questions or offer suggestions. Then even if it is hard, make sure you respect your friend’s boundary if they don’t want to share.
Your friend is going to have to face some grief and some physical pain and nothing you can do or say will change that. But by being a reliable respectful caring friend, you can make this difficult time a little easier on them. I know they will appreciate it.