People often ask me what they can do to support a friend or family member who has just experienced a miscarriage, they see the grief and depression and are at a loss, they want to help ease the hurt, but just aren't sure how. A miscarriage is a unique loss with many facets; it not only involves the loss of a child and of all the dreams and hopes for that child, but also the loss of a pregnancy (for me these were two very different areas of grief), so it really doesn't come as a surprise that many are puzzled as to what to do for their hurting loved one. I would like to share a list of things that you can do to come alongside your grieving friend or family member, and make her road to healing a little easier to travel.
-Be there! This seems simple, but you might start to feel awkward around your loved one, not sure what to say or how to act, and begin to pull away from the relationship, this is the most painful thing you can do at this stage in her life.
-Acknowledge her loss. You might be afraid that you will say something stupid, but saying nothing at all is even worse. You might also be afraid that you will make her feel sad by talking about her pregnancy, loss, or baby, but I can assure you she will feel better knowing you are thinking about her.
-Let her share. You might find that your loved one is experiencing a myriad of emotions and has a lot on her mind that she just needs to talk about, let her! What she shares might seem strange, or even crazy, but don't make her feel that way, I can assure that no matter how off the wall her feelings might seem they are probably pretty normal.
-Be understanding. Keep in mind that baby showers can be painful, so be understanding if she chooses not to attend a baby shower or leaves early, the same goes for holding new babies, she just might not be able to bring herself to do it, and that is okay, give her grace. If questions or eyebrows are raised, just be kind in sharing that she is healing from a loss and needs time and understanding.
-Be practical. Your inclination may be to tell her "let me know if you need anything," but truthfully, at this point she may not know what she needs, so take her dinner, fill her freezer with easy meals, fold some laundry, wash her dishes or fill her dishwasher, sweep her floors, if she has other kids offer to babysit for a few hours, help her with the things that she may not have the drive or energy to do right now.
-Give her a grief vacation. No, you cannot help her completely forget her grief, but you might just be able to give her a little time away from it. Spend the day with her; watch movies and pig out on junk food, treat her to a spa day with a massage, mani, pedi, and a new hairdo, pack a picnic lunch and get into nature for a hike or bike, take her out for dinner and a musical, play, or movie, or head to a nearby big city for a day of sight seeing.
-Give her a memorial gift. It can be difficult to think of a gift to give someone who has had a miscarriage, your friend may not have chosen to name her baby, and may not have even known her baby's gender, so you might be at a loss, but there are still many things you can do to memorialize her child. A few things that were done for me that meant a lot were the ring my husband gave me with the name we chose for our baby (Sparrow Liran), a Christmas ornament from my sister in law with our baby's name, a friend who planted tulips in her mom's garden in memory of our babe, a cross stitch my mom designed that said "and to think when her little eyes opened the first thing she saw was the face of Jesus," an angel figurine holding a baby that a friend gave me. Your friend might have something special she associates with her pregnancy and baby like stars, butterflies, flowers, ladybugs if you see a gift along these lines buy it, if you see something that really brings her to mind give it to her; it doesn't even have to be bought you might be an artist, or writer, or create something that will be meaningful to her.
-Remember big days. Mother's day, the day she lost her baby, and the day her baby was due will be hard days, holidays may also bring pain, so make sure you are remembering her on these days, sending a card (http://lostforwordscardline.com/) or flowers, a special gift (http://www.myforeverchild.com/), or even bringing over cupcakes will brighten a dark day.
-Remember when everyone else forgets. After a few weeks, people will begin to forget your loved one's loss, they will stop asking how she is doing, and assume that life is getting back to normal, but it's not, she still needs extra love and support. Keep the texts, e-mails, cards, and chats coming, she will need them!
This list is probably not all inclusive, you might find other ways to be there for your friend that I didn't mention (I would love for you to leave a comment about it!), there may even be things specific to your friend and the relationship that you share that will lift her spirits, do them! If your first thought is "oh, I bet she would love this," do not second guess yourself, just do it, the fact that you thought of her will mean the world to her as she is grieving.
*In my post I refer to "she," I am in no way ignoring the fact that the father will grieve and need support, many of these things might be meaningful to a man, as well, but there is no doubt that men and women grieve differently and so this post is more geared towards a grieving mom*