Did you know roughly 10% and 20% of women with a medically confirmed pregnancy will end in miscarriage? This statistic is, unfortunately, true and devastating. Yet despite how common it occurs, the internet lacks information on how to help a friend after a miscarriage. What should you say? How can you support your friend during this grief? Above all, it’s important to understand that a miscarriage is still a loss, no matter when it happens. It creates a significant toll both physically and emotionally. And understanding that grief is not a linear process will help you act as a pillar of support for your friend in need, among other tips we’ll share.
Before we dive into how to support your loved ones, let’s discuss a few statistics and facts to help increase your awareness about miscarriage and its physical and mental health implications.
- Miscarriage is the loss of a fetus before 20 weeks of gestation
- Pregnancy loss that occurs after 20 weeks is called a stillbirth
- Some women experience a miscarriage before knowing they’re pregnant
- 80% of miscarriages occur during the first trimester, 0 – 13 weeks
- Around 26% of pregnancies end in miscarriage
- Following a miscarriage, around 30 – 50% of women experience anxiety, and 10 –15% experience depression, typically lasting up to four months
How to Help a Friend After a Miscarriage
1. Acknowledge the loss
If you don’t know what to say, that’s okay. You’re not expected to produce thought-provoking pearls of wisdom. Yet the best thing you can do is show up, ask them how they’re doing, and allow them to share their emotions without judgment. Even if they’re not ready to share, they’ll appreciate the fact you asked. Often, grief carries an associated stigma, and people will dance around the subject or avoid it at all costs. But this causes more pain, so telling your friend you’re there for them while offering a listening ear will be instrumental in their healing.
2. Provide empathy
When they open up to you, don’t minimize the loss. A miscarriage is still a loss even if it happened at 2 or 15 weeks. Therefore, avoid insensitive statements like, “At least it happened early” or “It’s meant to be” and instead, provide unwavering empathy. For example, say, “I’m so sorry you lost your baby. Take as much time as you need to grieve“, and “I love you, and I’m always here for you“. Listening closely with intent rather than trying to solve their problem gives them the necessary space to vent and process in the company of someone who cares.
3. Continue to check-in
Everyone processes grief differently. For example, some may feel better after a few weeks, while others might continue to grieve after a year or longer. Therefore, keep this in mind, and continue to check in, especially understanding that grief creates isolation. Those grieving may self-isolate to hide their emotions from the public or because they feel like the world doesn’t understand. So, continue to send texts reminding them you’re there, ask them out for coffee to talk, and call them frequently to reduce their loneliness.
4. Respect their boundaries
If your friend would prefer to grieve in silence, that’s okay. Everyone is different, and it’s your responsibility as their friend to respect their boundaries. But don’t go off the grid. For example, continue to send check in texts, as mentioned above, and send them compassion while afar. Metta meditation translates to loving-kindness and allows you to support your friend as a part of your mindful morning routine. To start, breathe deeply and visualize your friend. Hold them gently within your heart and recite affirmations like “May you be peaceful. May you be well. May you receive my love“.
5. Don’t ask when they will try again
When learning how to help a friend after a miscarriage, never ask about their future pregnancy plans or say, “You can try again”. Doing so invalidates the profound loss they’re experiencing while making insensitive assumptions about their fertility journey. 1 in 5 women struggle to get pregnant after a year of trying, and many spend thousands of dollars on fertility treatments that affect them physically and mentally. Therefore, you may not know the battles they endured to become pregnant in the first place or ever understand they may not have the chance to experience pregnancy again.
6. Remember the baby’s name
It bears repeating that it doesn’t matter how far along someone is when they experience a miscarriage. Indeed, many feel a strong emotional bond with their baby as soon as they discover they’re pregnant. So, it’s deeply important to acknowledge the loss in ways that will help their healing. For example, if the couple shared the name or sex, you can use it in conversation or even buy or make a personalized gift in the baby’s memory. Doing so is one of the most thoughtful ways to help a grieving friend as it gives them something to hold onto as they grieve. And saying the name of the deceased honors and memorializes the loss.
7. Offer to help with errands/chores
When someone is grieving, they often don’t have the physical or emotional capacity to care for themselves, their home, or those around them. Therefore, beyond providing a listening ear, show your support by offering to help. You can…
- Cook them one of their favorite delicious comfort food recipes
- Offer to assist with the laundry or clean their home
- Surprise them with coffee or make them guilt-free and delicious desserts
- Or say, “I would like to help you with (insert chore) meal planning, laundry, dishes..etc
Assisting with their daily chores and responsibilities will allow them the time to focus on their physical and emotional health.
8. Don’t offer advice
Often, people will attempt to fill silences or gaps in conversation with advice that may seem comforting but will not be well-received. For example, some may insert religious statements or even discuss their experience. But it’s better to sit with the grief and listen. Your friend needs you to be there rather than hearing your opinions or unsolicited advice.
Knowing how to help a friend after a miscarriage can be challenging. But remember to lead with empathy, listen, and be there. Your friend will feel your compassion, and your continued support will greatly assist them in their healing.
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