There is something that happens to people the second you start talking about death. The whole body language of the person you’re speaking to changes and it makes sense. Death is uncomfortable. There are rarely ever happy feelings that are brought up when you bring up that 5 letter word and yet we all know it’s a part of life. We know that when someone is grieving they need comfort and the phrase “I’m sorry for your loss” is often brought to bring comfort.
We do this for friends who lose partners, parents, siblings, friends, grandparents, pets, and even jobs. We rally around them, we call them to check in, and we understand that they’re grieving and it will take time. This obviously isn’t the case in every situation, there are some people who still unfortunately don’t have the support that someone who is grieving really needs.
And then there are our friends who have had a miscarriage. There is so much secrecy around miscarriage and with that comes this unspoken idea that it’s not that big a deal. We’re told even before we’re pregnant that when do get pregnant, we have to be strategic about when we share the news.
In case we have a miscarriage.
Because that’s embarrassing? Because that’s something to hide? Because it’s not a big deal? But what this rule really tell us that miscarriage doesn’t deserve the same support as those other losses that signal people to rally around the griever?
It’s all a lie though, miscarriage and the grief that follows for so many families, needs support, it needs people who listen, who hold your hand, who wipe your tears, and acknowledge your loss. If you’ve got a friend who has had a miscarriage, and it’s not something you’ve been through yourself, it can be hard to know exactly what to do. We know those steps to help when someone has happy memories to pull from, like when a parent passes away, but when your friend has lost someone important to them and all they have is the positive pregnancy test and maybe an ultrasound photo, if they’re lucky, it’s not as easy to help them through it.
But it’s really not that complicated. There are three big ways we can do better for our friends who have had a miscarriage and hopefully start to break down the stigma that surrounds miscarriage and open up the support for families who are grieving.
1. Stop Perpetuating the “Don’t Share Until the 12th Week Rule”
This is a rule that we’re told so often when it comes to pregnancy that you could probably ask anyone and they will tell you that they know you’re “not supposed to tell anyone” until you’ve hit that 3-month mark. Why? Because what if you have a miscarriage? Then you’ll have to tell everyone you had one — which is bad, why? This breeds the idea that a miscarriage is shameful, that it’s to be kept a secret because it’s dirty or something. What this does is bring about the idea that when you feel sad and devastated after you do have a miscarriage, you’re not going to have a core group of people who can hold you up. It clouds the grief that comes with losing a baby. To help your friend who had a miscarriage, we all need to stop spreading this message, that waiting is best, because the reality is that if you do have a miscarriage, you’ll need that support. Also, it gives a false sense of security that all will be well after that magical twelfth week.
2. Be Mindful of Your Words
If your friend has had a miscarriage, it’s important to say something, if you can, because it acknowledges their loss, but you need to be mindful of what you do say. There are some well-meaning phrases people say when trying to bring comfort, that just backfires. Don’t say, “You can always have another,” or “at least you can get pregnant,” because both are very dismissive. Don’t tell the family that it’s “probably for the best” or “at least it was early” because that is also very dismissive. If you’re not sure what to say, you can’t go wrong with, “I am so sorry for your loss.”
3. Show Up
When someone is grieving, the comfort of friends and family can bring so much healing. If your friend told you they had a miscarriage, or you heard it, make sure you show up for them in ways you would if they had lost anyone else important to them. Show them that their baby was real, that their baby mattered, and that you hurt for them, too. It’s so much more than “just a pregnancy” that ended, it’s the whole wishes and dreams, and plans and life they’re going to miss out on. On top of the grieve wave they have to walk through, they’re also going to be physically affected that will be eased by the comfort of those around them.
Check up on your friend, bring meals, show up and just listen, and even if you don’t have all the answers and you’re not sure why they’re going through this either, put your hand on theirs and sit uncomfortably because grief is never comfortable, and that’s OK.
What are some things you wanted your friends to do after your miscarriage? Or what are some things your friends did do that helped you? Let us know in the comments.
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(Image: iStock /oneinchpunch )