When a woman experiences a miscarriage, she usually suffers feelings of pain, loss, and disappointment. Depending on how advanced her pregnancy was or her feelings about the developing baby, she may go through a full-fledged mourning period.
As a friend or relative, you may not know what to say or do. Should you stay away or come to visit? Remain silent or offer comfort?
Here are a few suggestions from the voice of experience:
- Give the grieving mom privacy. She may need a few days to come to terms with the loss of her child. While some women may seek immediate solace from family or friends, others prefer some time to mourn the unborn infant. If you know the mother very well, you may wish to call and ask her wishes. Otherwise, it may be best to remain a discreet distance, physically and emotionally, until the wound begins to heal.
- Comfort from a distance. When the time feels right, send an email, condolence card, or caring letter as solace to your friend or relative. Simple phrases like “I’m sorry this happened” or “We care” mean a lot to someone who may feel anguish. An informal message of this type conveys your concern and allows the grieving woman to decide when she is ready for a face-to-face meeting. Invite her to call or respond, saying you look forward to getting together in sharing her burden.
- When she gets in touch and the two of you meet, be responsive without being overwhelming. Rather than gush over the lost infant or your friend’s pain, offer a hug or clasp her hand to show unity and support. Be a willing listener without asking questions or offering advice.
- Avoid cliche-type expressions of comfort. While kindly intended, they can be hurtful:
“It’s for the best.”
“The baby was probably deformed.”
“God knows what He’s doing.”
“Something worse might have happened to the child later.”
Instead, offer support that allows your friend to call the shots in terms of opening up, analyzing the loss, or simply getting over it:
“I care about you.”
“Get some rest and I’ll do those errands for you.”
- Include practical comforts. Hands-on help like bringing a hot meal, especially if the grieving mother has a family, is often appreciated. In the weeks that follow consider sending flowers or coming over to clean house or watch her little ones while she rests or shops. Take her out for dinner as a “breather” from regular duties. Let her know you’re there for her in whatever capacity she needs you.
- Help her mourn. If your friend wants to discuss the loss, be a good listener. Perhaps she wants to share what she has journaled about it, needs to cry on your shoulder, or will appreciate your praying with her for the baby. She may want you to attend a worship service with her as she turns to God for comfort and guidance. Be willing to share her loss in whatever ways are meaningful in helping her find closure and peace.
- Be committed for the long run. Grief takes time, sometimes a year or more, for healing to take place. Remain available for your friend’s need to vent her feelings or for occasional crying jags, remembering that pregnancy hormones may jostle her emotions as they return to normal.
Losing a baby is one of the most painful things a woman may endure. A devoted friend can make a big difference in helping someone accept and deal with her loss.