Each woman grieves and processes a miscarriage differently. If you love someone who has had a miscarriage, you may feel at a loss on how to support her through this process. Though, each woman is different, here are five things not to say:
1. Don’t worry, you’ll get pregnant again. Many women have already bonded to their lost baby and are mourning the unique person that she felt connected to, not just the concept of having a baby. Her response to this may likely be, “yes, but I want THIS baby.” If she is mourning her baby, look for ways to honor and remember the little one, like a memorial, a object in the house that symbolizes the child, or a tattoo of tiny angel wings.
2. This happens all the time. So, do a lot of really horrible things (off the top of my head, rape, child abuse, cancer) but we don’t act as if those people should just bounce back and be fine. And, likely, she already knows miscarriage happens. But it means nothing to her in the midst of her grieving and, instead of being comforting, may feel shaming. The one time it is a comfort for a woman to know that other women experience this is when another woman (or a support group of women) can give her a safe affirming space to grieve. Despite miscarriage being common, it is still usually grieved in secret which can cut off sources of support and breed shame.
3. Your body will bounce right back. No matter what process (D&C, medication, or otherwise) your hormones are on a roller coaster of adjustment. The pain might be intense. She is probably exhausted. There is no way to predict how her mind and body will respond, but it is not an easy course correction to go from happily expecting to suddenly not. So, allow time and space for recovery. If she has children, offer childcare. Cook her meals, clean her house, encourage her to take time off work if she wants to, and just open up the space to heal in whatever way she needs.
4. You should/n’t… Drop this word from your vocabulary. There is no set path to recovery, so if you have a suggestion, remember it is just that and not a hard and fast rule. Every person is different, so “shoulding” on them will just add to shame and pain.
5. Time heals all things. For many women, time isn’t the answer. In fact, research has shown that women who have suffered past miscarriages may have more anxiety and depression in future pregnancies. Sometimes time isn’t enough and a therapist or support group is needed for recovery.
Grief is messy and comes in waves. Also, don’t underestimate the impact on dads. They are trying to support while also processing their own grief. Everyone grieves differently and when both partners are in grief, they may need to reach out to others (friends, family, or a therapist) to get the support they need. It can be hard to be fully present and available for your partner when you are dealing with your own grief.
The key to supporting someone you love who has had a miscarriage is to listen, support, be graceful, and patient. Drop your need to “fix” their pain and instead just be present and loving.
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