Healing from Miscarriage
Q: My friend just had her second miscarriage and is understandably devastated. I myself have not experienced this and don’t know how to be there for her other than to bring her dinner and check in. I feel useless and it hurts to see her pain. Any suggestions on how to help women heal from this experience? – Jenny
I’m so sorry for your friend’s losses. The helplessness that you are expressing in the face of her pain is quite common. Since our culture typically treats loss after miscarriage as a non-event, we often find ourselves unsure what to do and how to support family and friends. However, what you are doing – acknowledging the loss of her children verbally and showing your love and concern by providing for her practical needs – is most likely exactly what she needs. And this is something that she, and her husband, will need for some time to come.
If you aren’t already doing this, you may want to make yourself available to spend time with your friend and allow her to share about the loss of her children. It can be awfully hard to listen to such deep pain; however, this is one of the greatest gifts that you can offer her. Think back to a time when you lost someone close to you. I imagine that it was a relief to be able to talk about that person and all that they meant to you. In addition to talking about your loved one, there may have been other times that you simply needed someone to sit with in silence. Your friend needs the same opportunity to use as many – or as few – words to express her grief. So although you have not experienced a reproductive loss, you have experienced other losses that will provide some insight into how to help.
Assuring your friend that what she is feeling is normal will also help her quite a bit. If it’s appropriate, you can share with her that everyone experiences grief differently – that there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to grieve – and that there isn’t a set timeline to grieve. You can also feel confident assuring her that although it doesn’t feel this way right now, things will get better. Your friend will never forget her children, but remembering them will be less painful as time goes on. (Something again that you can probably personally relate to when thinking about a loss in your life.)
And finally, don’t forget to express your condolences to the baby’s father and ask how he is doing. As you can imagine, men are often completely forgotten in the midst of loss due to miscarriage. Although men tend to show their grief differently, studies indicate that they are equally impacted and that their grief often goes unresolved due to the lack of support from family and friends and the culture at large.
Jenny, it sounds like you are doing a terrific job supporting your friend. In addition to what you are already doing, you and your friend may benefit from visiting MiscarriageHurts.com. This anonymous healing website features activities to work through the grieving process, as well as a place to memorialize, and a place to find further help and support.
Michaelene Fredenburg is president of Life Perspectives (www.lifeperspectives.com)