After my last post based around this topic, I thought a kind of “how to” offer support to someone who has just had a miscarriage might be a helpful follow up. I want to add a disclaimer here that says I don’t mean to imply that I know everything about this stuff. But I do have a fair idea of what works and what doesn’t. I also want to say that the list isn’t very long because the reality is, sometimes there isn’t much you can do.
HOW TO COMFORT SOMEONE WHO HAS JUST HAD A MISCARRIAGE
1. SENDING MESSAGES OVER CALLING
Obviously, this could all be down to age and the fact many people tend to communicate like this now but personally, I much preferred receiving a text, Facebook message or email in the immediate aftermath of a miscarriage. The reason being that when I’m lying in bed or on that couch going through the physical aspects I can’t/don’t want to talk. However, reading messages of condolences have offered much comfort and do not go unnoticed.
Send your message with the expectation you probably won’t get a reply, or if you do, it could be very short.
2. MAKING FOOD
During our miscarriages last year, Hubby and I came home to a pasta bake on our doorstep. We could have wept with joy at the fact we didn’t have to make dinner that night and would have leftovers for the next day.
When Hubby had to return to work (away from home) and a friend and neighbour made me a lasagne as well as homemade biscuits over a period of days I was so unbelievably grateful. What she didn’t know was that I’d been living on toast purely because I didn’t have the energy or motivation to cook for myself. The lasagne encouraged me to not only eat well for a night but to start making proper meals again. The fact that she had thought of me in such a caring way is something I will never forget nor take for granted. Never think a gesture like this isn’t worth doing because it can have a ripple effect that you couldn’t imagine.
3. MAKING YOURSELF AVAILABLE
What I mean by this is physically. Normally there is at least one doctors appointment after a miscarriage to check everything went okay and potentially blood testing at a separate location as well. Offering to babysit an existing child or come with for support can help enormously. I was lucky enough to have my parents-in-law to watch Little Man and I’m glad I did as my mind wasn’t really on him during the appointment. I needed that time for myself and to be able to ask the questions that had been keeping me awake at night.
Be aware that even if a sitter isn’t necessary, a partner may not always be available for such appointments and waiting in that reception area alone (often surrounded by pregnant women if at an OBGYN office) can be breathtakingly difficult. Offering to accompany her is extremely thoughtful, even if the offer is declined.
4. BEING OPEN TO TALKING ABOUT THE HARD STUFF
This kind of goes hand in hand with my previous post about what not to say. Reminding that person that you’re there and open to talking is invaluable. It’s not necessarily about a huge in-depth, Hollywood-like discussion but you wouldn’t believe how many times a miscarriage is never spoken of again based on a feeling the other person would become uncomfortable.
Put yourself in the grieving parents shoes for a moment, consider how you would broach the subject and start a conversation several months after the event. Maybe “I think about my baby everyday to the point I secretly cry at work” or “I’m feeling suicidal because I lost my baby four months ago”? Could you really be brave enough to say those words? Because I couldn’t and didn’t. Remember that the person could be feeling very vulnerable to the point it’s effecting their mental health. Providing an understanding that you’re genuinely always there as an ear is something that a person might just need to open up. Most times you don’t have to say anything, listening can be the most powerful thing in this kind of situation.
5. SENDING FLOWERS OR CARDS
I put a warning here regarding the cards. If you are unsure of the persons religious viewpoint then steer clear of anything resembling those kind of sentiments. A simple sympathy card will do.
Call me old fashioned but receiving a bunch of flowers did put a smile on my face. I appreciated the thought immensely and have kept the cards that were attached because it’s the only thing I have from the time I was last with my baby.
6. BEING CONSCIOUS OF TIME
I struggled with what to call this but basically be aware that the pain of a miscarriage doesn’t end within a few weeks, months or even years. I see declarations of love for passed loved ones on Facebook all the time because, I think as a society, we are more open to this kind of loss. Be aware that someone who has experienced a miscarriage will no doubt be feeling some kind of sadness around certain dates yet are less likely to make it public simply because the subject is still pretty taboo. I’m not saying you have to remember specific dates but just keep the lines of communication open because anniversaries are tough enough without feeling like they have to be hidden.
Is there anything you would add? Something that you have experienced from a loved one or done in support? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment.
I thank you very much for reading, although I sincerely hope that you never have to use the information.