Last week, a childhood friend lost her twin boys well into her second trimester. As always, it was heartbreaking to get the email, and as I grieved their loss, memories of our own miscarriage overwhelmed me. It’s been over five years since we lost our second child 9 weeks into the pregnancy. At the time, well meaning friends and loved ones tried to console me, but some of the things said were not helpful. If you’re in this sisterhood of suffering, you already know what to do and what not to say. But if you haven’t experienced a loss yourself and want to be there for a friend, here’s my advice.
- Don’t say “Oh, you’ll have another one,” or “at least you have (older child)” or “you’ll get pregnant again soon!” All these things might be true, but they really have nothing to do with the intense grief and loss for the child I lost.
- If you have not lost a child yourself, please don’t try to compare your experience of loss. Your family pet might have been very precious to you, but there is nothing like the bonding a mother does with her child from the moment she thinks she might be pregnant. Just listen sympathetically.
- Don’t say, “Oh, it wasn’t really a baby yet.” For those of us who believe that life begins at conception, this is simply wrong. For those of us who bonded to that life, even for a few short weeks, this is incredibly hurtful.
- Don’t be shocked or overly worried if you hear the grieving mother question the goodness of God or express anger at Him. In the early days after our loss, I struggled with all of those things. I rationally knew that God is good and that His will is perfect. But I did a lot of agonizing crying out to Him. It is so comforting to read the Psalms and know that David did this, too. I laid claim to the fact that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And whenever I hear that a friend has miscarried, I immediately pray for her the words that she probably can’t pray in the freshness of her grief.
- Pray a lot. Pray as a group. The night we found out that our baby had died, we had small group, where our friends were able to pray over us as I wept. Follow up and pray afterwards. Pray whenever your friend comes to mind. If you know when the duedate would have been, try to remember to pray then. It’s a hard time. If you remember the anniversary of the loss, pray then. I still think about it every year. And as I typed this, I stopped and prayed for a half dozen of my friends who have miscarried recently.
- Bring a meal. There is a lot going on hormonally, physically, and emotionally, and grieving moms don’t have the adrenaline boost that we get when we delivery our healthy baby. Don’t ask if they want a meal, just tell them, “I’m bringing you dinner tomorrow night.” Bring paper plates and plasticware. If you’re not local, send a care package. Sometimes calls might seem intrusive (I ignored the phone most of the first couple days), but a note or an email telling the friend that you’re praying and thinking of them can never go amiss.
And of course, if you’ve had a miscarriage yourself, you know these things (or would perhaps give slightly different advice). If you’re at a place where you can share about your experience, I would encourage you to, whenever the topic comes up. It was so incredibly helpful to me in the early weeks to talk to my friends who had gone through the same thing. It helped to have a head’s up about some of the aftermath—the migraine headaches as my hormones readjusted, the depression, even the decision about a D&C. It was hard for me to talk about at first, but now I try to be really open about it so that if and when other friends experience this, they know they can talk to me and ask questions. I’ve found it encouraging that one result of my loss is that I can empathize with and know how to pray for others.