Understanding How To Support A Friend In Their Miscarriage, And How NOT To (Part 2)
A Raw Perspective of First-Hand Experience: What They Wish You Understood After Their Miscarriage
*THERE IS CONTENT IN THIS ARTICLE THAT MAY BE TRIGGERING FOR THOSE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED MISCARRIAGE. *
They lost a close friend, a family member…..
They found out they have cancer……
They announced they’re getting a divorce……
They found out they were cheated on…..
……This time… it’s a miscarriage.
These topics; they’re situations that we dance around. We’ve all experienced them in some way. Whether it is first hand, or with someone close to us.
AND WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO HANDLE THEM. When I say “them” I’m talking about the PERSON in pain. We don’t know how to approach their pain.
Do we tread lightly?
Do we just rip the band-aid off?
How long do we wait to bring it up?
Do we pretend it didn’t happen?
Do we avoid the topic, thinking we are being considerate of their privacy?
What if it gets really awkward?
These are valid questions that I, too, can struggle with at times.
But, NOW THAT I HAVE EXPERIENCED TWO MISCARRIAGES OF MY OWN….. I have some insight. How SHOULD you support a friend in their miscarriage, and how should you NOT?
This is PART TWO of this blog post; it starts at #5. Numbers 1-4 are in my previous blog post, Part One, linked here: How To Support A Friend In Their Miscarriage Part 1
Now, let’s continue….. 😊
#5: Help support their husband; he’s hurting too and they can’t be there for him right now.
The husband, (fiancé or boyfriend), of your friend is suffering as well.
A miscarriage can be REALLY hard on a marriage. I used to think the opposite. I used to think: “Oh, they are both hurting and really leaning on one another for support, and understand each other because they are walking through the same thing.”
But that is not always the case, sadly.
They are each hurting so much, they don’t even know HOW to support the other. They barely know how to support themselves. They can unknowingly feel “entitled” to certain treatment because of “what they are going through”. But… this is a situation THEY ARE BOTH GOING THROUGH, yet processing it in totally different ways.
It often causes hurt, bitterness, and even resentment to form between couples because they aren’t feeling supported the way they need or want.
My point is, THEY NEED HELP.
They need OUTSIDE help. They need support.
The man needs some man time. The woman needs some woman time.
And they each can benefit highly from talking to someone of the same sex that has gone through a miscarriage. Someone that can understand how they feel and what they are thinking. Someone of the same sex will be able to support them in a way that their significant other may not be able to.
You can either BE this person for your friend if possible, or encourage them to find someone.
#6: They are not looking forward to future pregnancies the same way that you would.
Your first response to try and console your friend may be to encourage them about future pregnancies.
But this will not be as helpful as you might think. When they think about a future pregnancy, they will not be viewing it in the same light that you would view YOUR future pregnancy.
Typically someone would be excited to take that pregnancy test.
Excited about the positive test result.
Excited about telling their friends and family.
Excited about starting to plan for things and buy things.
Excited about their doctors’ appointments and ultrasounds.
Excited about planning their baby shower.
For someone who has suffered a miscarriage, (or maybe even more than one), these topics are not topics of joy and anticipation. They are topics of fear, anxiety, and dread.
I remember being terrified of all of my doctors’ appointments. Every time they wanted to do an ultrasound or find the baby’s heartbeat I would have an anxiety attack.
They would then proceed to tell me that my blood pressure was slightly elevated, to which I would respond, “Yes, I’m having a lot of anxiety.” And they would continue to tell me that if my blood pressure continued to be high then I would be considered “high risk” and they may want to induce me early…. Therefore causing my anxiety to go up even more each time I went, resulting in high blood pressure…..
Also, IF & WHEN your friend does become pregnant again…..they will be extremely hesitant, probably afraid, and dealing with anxiety. They may overreact to aches and pains. They may want to get checked by the doctor more often. They may be extra careful and avoid doing a lot of different things that make them nervous to cause a miscarriage.
And YOU….as their friend…. Should be aware of this. Because they will need support, reassurance, and UNDERSTANDING. Not judgment for handling their pregnancy differently than you think they should.
#7: They don’t need your opinions; they need your support.
This goes along with the last point, #6.
After your friend has experienced a miscarriage, and may or may not be pregnant again…. They don’t need you to tell them they’re being overdramatic. Or they need to calm down. Or that the way they are feeling isn’t “normal” because you and Sally Smith didn’t feel that way when you were pregnant.
If you say these things to your hurting friend…. They WILL get hurt, and they WILL separate themselves from you. Not wanting the negative feedback or judgment. They may separate physically, and you won’t hear from them much. Or, they may separate themselves emotionally and not open up to you about what they are thinking or how they are really feeling. Bitterness and resentment may grow.
You have to be very tactful when speaking to ANYONE who has recently suffered a trauma.
Someone who has lost a family member, or is diagnosed with a disease doesn’t blame themselves or take it personally, in most normal circumstances. But someone who has suffered a miscarriage takes it very personally….
Was it their fault? What did they do wrong? Why did their body fail them? They don’t feel like a “real” woman. They are, in many ways, “less than” their mama piers. Will their body fail them again? Are they enough for their husband now?
Some of these thoughts and ideas may seem very new to you. But after understanding them, you can begin to see how small comments made without thoughtfulness can be so hurtful to your friend.
BOTTOM LINE: THEY DON’T WANT YOUR OPINION UNLESS THEY ASK FOR IT. (Ouch, I know. *wince*)
They don’t want to know why YOU THINK they had a miscarriage.
They don’t want to hear how YOU THINK they should be responding or coping.
They don’t want to know what YOU THINK is normal or abnormal.
(Unless you have suffered your own loss).
They just need to you say, “This sucks BAD. I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m here for you, communicate with me what it is you need right now.” And then cry with them…. And pray with them.
#8: DO NOT ask them WHEN they’re going to try again.
“So, when are you guys going to try again?”
“When are you guys going to have kids?”
2 very hurtful and offensive questions for someone with a fresh miscarriage wound.
The first question insinuates that this wasn’t a big deal, and getting pregnant again is going to be so simple and happy. It feels like everyone wants to move on and forget about their lost baby, and move on to the next thing.
Question #2 insinuates that it’s somehow IN THEIR CONTROL when they’re going to have a baby. *crickets*
When asked, I wanted to respond to this question with a, “Gosh, I don’t know…..if it were up to us we were supposed to have one already (in case you forgot)….. so….that’s a good question….wish I knew.”
I am not a sarcastic person. And I DON’T respond in this way. But the wounded woman inside of me wants to scream and yell and throw a pity party.
INSTEAD……. After some time has passed…..YOU CAN ASK…..
“Do you think you will ever be ready to try again?
“Do you still plan to try for a baby again in the future?”
You may not see there is a difference between the first set of questions and these, but trust me, there is. *wink* Taking out the pressure of the “when” can make a huge difference.
#9: They need help getting away from the “WHY”. Instead, remind them of truths they DO know.
It’s likely that your friend is going back over their pregnancy in their mind. Wondering what could have gone wrong. Was it something they did? When? WHY? Why did God let this happen?
They may or may not be open enough to voice these thoughts and feelings to you. But either way, predict that they ARE happening. And instead of assisting them in their negative spiral that ultimately will get nowhere…..
SPEAK TRUTHS TO THEM that they DO know.
“God is good and He is with you in this.”
“Ask God to show you an answer if it would be beneficial for you to know one. But trust Him that there’s a reason if He doesn’t give you one.”
“No matter why this happened, God is able to restore all your losses and fill your cup back up with joy.”
Find some Bible verses that apply and text them one every few days.
Tell them: “I care about you too much to let you get stuck in this place of pain. You WILL move forward, and I will help you.”
Recovering from a miscarriage is a big deal. And it’s a long road with an ongoing process. It’s not like a few months pass and all is healed and forgotten. It creates a scar on your heart that will always be there, until we get to heaven.
Because miscarriage can seem common, is can often be downplayed.
My heart goes out to those suffering, often in silence.
I hope this article was helpful for you. I hope it gave you a glimpse into the perspective of your friend or family member. I hope you know feel more confident and knowledgeable in how you can support them.
ALSO, again…. If YOU are “the friend”, and you need a little help communicating to others what you need, or how you would like to be supported, then share this article with them!
Here are a few more helpful resources about pregnancy loss:
Until next time, take each day one day at a time.
Her Life In Season