It’s an unfortunate reality that not all pregnant women will carry their babies to term. The March of Dimes estimates that miscarriage occurs in about 10-15% of pregnancies (out of the women who know they’re pregnant). Chances are high that you know someone who has experienced a pregnancy loss.
It’s impossible to understand the true spectrum of emotions one experiences when navigating through a pregnancy loss if you haven’t been through one yourself. Grief expert David Kessler says, “There is no forgetting in grief.” When a person is missing from your lives, it’s not something you ever forget. Losing a child is an incredibly isolating experience because the world still carries on.
If you know someone who is experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss, or has experienced one recently, you may find yourself wanting to support. You may also find yourself wondering about the right things to say or do.
If you truly find yourself in the capacity to provide support to someone experiencing pregnancy loss, keep in mind these two helpful tips.
Resist the urge to keep things positive
Finding the right thing to say to someone experiencing a pregnancy loss can feel tricky. Because your loved one is going through a painful situation, you may find yourself wanting to remind them to stay positive.
This is unnecessary.
And it may even invalidate what they’re feeling.
Refrain from starting sentences with “at least…” (e.g. at least you’re still young, at least you can try again, at least it was early on in your pregnancy)
While seemingly harmless, these sentiments remove the focus from their pain and grief. Let them move through the grief process on their own time.
There is no need to try and put a positive spin on something so painful and difficult.
This may feel uncomfortable at first. In fact, it will require you to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. But truly being there for a loved one means sitting with them through their pain.
Tell them that you are sorry for what they are going through. Tell them that whatever feelings they have are valid. This will go miles further than trying to turn a horrible situation into something positive.
Offer concrete support
The go-to phrase that people use when offering help is something along the lines of, “Please let me know if you need anything.”
While it may seem like there’s nothing wrong with this, it’s unclear what kind of help you’re willing to provide. You may consider taking it one step further and offering concrete suggestions.
Depending on how close you are with this person, they may not know what kind of help you’re offering. Asking for help also puts you in a vulnerable position and with a pregnancy loss, your loved one is already dealing with a lot of emotions and feelings.
After my miscarriage, I found myself needing support but I was afraid to be a burden on other people. And when people did tell me that they were there for me, I wasn’t quite sure in what capacity.
When you offer support to a loss mom during her time of crisis, think of exactly how you’d like to help. Try offering concrete suggestions such as:
Let your loved one know the exact capacity of support you’re willing to provide, and make sure you only make suggestions that you’re willing to follow through on.
And if they don’t respond, that’s okay. Some people may need space to move through the healing process. For those who are willing to receive support, your clarity will most certainly be appreciated.
If you’re experiencing a loss currently, have recently experienced one, or never processed a loss you had in the past, please consider joining the weekly pregnancy and infant loss support group by Rachel’s Gift. It’s currently held on Thursdays at 7pm EST via Zoom. This free group is open to both or either partner (men and women) and their family members. The group is led by licensed counselors and social workers and is a safe space to grieve among others who have had similar experiences. It has helped 800 people and counting through their loss journeys since its inception. Sign up today.
MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is provided for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Do not rely solely on this information. Consult your health care provider for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.
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