I was 25 years old when I miscarried my first pregnancy and the aftermath of that loss was a bit of a blur to me. But, although some of the details of those early days right after the miscarriage has faded, I remember with distinct clarity the many amazing ways that my friends showed up to provide us support and help hold us up when we couldn’t hold ourselves up. Below are a few of my favorite ways to show support to someone who has lost a pregnancy. It’s also really important to remember someone’s miscarriage in different ways through the first year after the loss. As they slowly go through some of the first dates after loss (like their due date, the holidays, Mother’s Day, etc.) it makes a huge difference to feel remembered!
Acknowledge their loss
For many women, miscarriage can carry a sense of stigma and shame, causing them to keep their experience of miscarriage private. When I miscarried, I heeded by conventional advice not to share the experience beyond a close circle of family and friends. As I got older, I realized that sharing my experience more widely might have lightened my burden.
If a friend shares their miscarriage with you, I want to encourage you to take it seriously. There is a good chance they have not shared their story with many beyond you, and you have an amazing opportunity to support them well! The best way to do so is also the easiest – simply acknowledge their loss.
In the first weeks after a miscarriage, you can check in regularly with them, but as time goes by, it can be easy to assume that they no longer want to be asked about their miscarriage. Obviously every person is different, but for many people it helps to be acknowledged three months, six months, and even a year later as big dates and holidays come and go.
Ask how their week/day has gone
Checking in with your friend just to see how they are feeling is also super helpful. A lot of grieving people struggle to answer the question, “how are you,” so we’ve put together a helpful article of phrases and words you can use that are sensitive for grievers. Head to this link for some great ideas. Again, it’s super helpful to remember to check in regularly, even if you think they might have “moved on” from the loss. There is a good chance they might not be sharing for fear of the stigma around “grieving too long.”
Send a gift – especially if you feel like your words can't express how you feel
Sometimes it can feel very intimidating to talk with a friend about pregnancy loss. Even for me, as someone who has gone through miscarriage myself, I sometimes struggle with feeling awkward or insufficient to support a friend well. In those situations, sometimes it helps to send a gift as a type of icebreaker. My budget for sending sympathy gifts isn’t normally huge, but we’ve worked really hard here at laurelbox to make it possible for you to send a beautiful sympathy gift at any budget. You can visit our gifts under $15 by clicking here.
So often, here at laurelbox we see how receiving a gift becomes a first step in a friendship defined by support. It signals, “I see you and I’m here for you. I’ll travel this road of grief with you.” That sentiment of support is so priceless for people who have experienced pregnancy loss.
I received two gifts in the aftermath of my miscarriage, and they both held a lot of meaning for me. My boss at the time gave me a magnet with an encouraging quote. I held on to it until my best friend miscarried, and then I passed it along to her. It became a “traveling grief support gift” when she in turn passed it along to another of her friends. The idea that the magnet is still traveling around and signaling support and friendships feels super special.
It helps to remember to send gifts as time passes also! When the first Christmas approached, my sister in law sent us a Christmas ornament symbolizing the loss, and even so many years later, I remember that she took the time and effort to remember what we had gone through. Sending a little gift of commemoration can be a huge deal as time passes and holidays or due dates approach.
Be there to sit and listen
It makes a HUGE difference when you are grieving to just have a friend sit there and listen. Most of the time advice doesn’t help very much, but when you spend quality time with a friend, you invite them to process their loss. Even if your time spent together includes zoning out by watching reality TV and splitting some wine or ice cream, quality time can help someone who has experience pregnancy loss or miscarriage.
It can also help to remember to check in three, six, or even twelve months later. As soon as you become pregnant, the important dates for your upcoming baby become so exciting. It’s super normal to dream about your due date, what your baby will wear at Christmas, or how things will change as you welcome a new addition. But, as soon as you lose the pregnancy, all those dreams crumble. A friend who remembers to sit there and listen as you process the loss of those dreams through the year is a treasure.
Offer Practical Support
This is a great way to practically support a friend in their hardest moments. After miscarriage, your body can experience a lot of intense physical symptoms. After my miscarriage, I rushed back to work and paid the physical toll for months. Helping support someone so they can rest and heal after pregnancy loss is a way to give them a priceless gift! Whether it’s shopping for groceries, running errands, prepping meals, watching older kids, or folding laundry, the practical ways that you support a friend are so valuable.
I hope these ideas help you support a friend who has experienced miscarriage! What are other ideas you found to be helpful?