Just a little less than five months ago, Aaron and I experienced our second pregnancy loss. I was over half way through with my pregnancy, and to say it was traumatic would be an understatement. I know my friends and family felt for me and many of them (and you!) reached out with words of support and prayers, which was so, so appreciated. But when it came to real-life interactions, I found that my grief made many people uncomfortable. People didn’t know what to say. Most would just ignore the loss all-together or perhaps inquire how we were once– and then never mention it again. Even though pregnancy loss is common, it is estimated that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, it’s still not a subject people are used to talking about. So if you know someone is currently grieving a loss, hopefully these tips for how to provide support for pregnancy loss will be helpful.
Be Present and Listen
My top tip is to be a good listener. Ask your friend what they need. Lend an ear and just listen. Do they need you to just sit with them? Show up. Do they want your prayers? Pray with them or for them. Everyone handles grief differently, so be sure to listen to their needs. And don’t feel like you need to respond other than to remind them they are loved and that your heart hurts for them.
Check In Regularly
Calling to express your love and condolences is a wonderful gesture, but where I think most people fail is when they never bring it up again. Losing a child is not something that just happens and then is over. I heard a great analogy the other day: when people see a wreck on the highway, they slow down to look at the wreckage. They might even send out some good thoughts or prayers for those affected, but then once they pass, they speed up and move about their day. The wreck probably never crosses their mind again. Don’t let that be how you treat your loved one’s loss. Grief isn’t a one-time thing. Depending on the person and the loss, it might be a lifetime thing! I know that personally, Grace’s loss will be with me for the rest of my life. Check in with your friend on the regular and let them know that you know they are still suffering and grieving.
Talk About It
This is along the same lines as the previous point, but it’s so important that it bears repeating: talk about it! Think about it this way: talking about the baby is a way to honor the life. Unless your friend or family member specifically asks you not to bring it up, talking about it will help with the healing process and let your friend feel supported.
I know I’m not one to ask for help. Instead of saying, “please let me know what you need” offer specific ways you can help! There were days when Layla and I were in our pj’s until bath and bedtime again. Making dinner was the absolute last thing I wanted to think about. Offer to drop off dinner or simply send a gift card so dinner isn’t a struggle one night. Other ways you can offer help are to watch their children for a couple hours so that the parents can spend a little alone time together. Or maybe even chip in with a friend and have a cleaning service come to clean the house for them. Everyday tasks can seem like mountains while dealing with grief, so anyway you can offer assistance will be appreciated.
Remind Them They are Loved
This is one thing that my mom was wonderful at, and I didn’t even realize how much it meant to me until later. When I was just sobbing and my heart was aching she constantly reminded me that I was loved. It’s simple and so easy but leaves a big impact.
Realize that there are a lot of emotions that come with loss: anger, sadness, depression. Hearing about others’ pregnancies can feel like a stab to the heart. So just be sensitive when sharing pregnancy or birth announcements. Also realize that attending a baby shower will probably be the last thing your friend wants to do. Be sensitive to the fact that they aren’t being selfish if they chose to abstain from baby-centric events. Allow them to feel whatever emotion they are going through without judgement.
And lastly, here are a few suggestions of things to avoid. I know people mean well, but there are some things that will diminish your friend’s feelings, and that is the last thing you want to do!
“You’ll get pregnant again.” / “At least you know you can get pregnant!”
“Don’t be sad, you have a beautiful/healthy child already!”
“You’re fortunate that the loss happened early!”
“God will only give you what you can handle!”
“The timing just wasn’t right.”
Instead, if you struggle for words try:
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“I can’t imagine the pain that you’re going through.”
“I just want you to know how loved you are. I am here for you.”
If you have any additional tips to provide support for pregnancy loss, please leave them in the comments!