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10 Ways to Help a Friend Who has Experienced Miscarriage

Note from Leigh Ann: I asked Tiffany to guest post after her words and actions, though she’s many miles away from me, ministered to my grieving heart and helped give me hope when we lost our baby, Lucy, in a miscarriage. The tangible ways in which she cared for my family was a blessing, and I know this post will bless many who aren’t sure how to care for someone going through a miscarriage.

By guest writer, Tiffany:

As my husband and I stared at the ultrasound screen, we prayed to see the faintest flicker of movement. A blink, a flash, any sign of life would have put our breaking hearts at ease. We pleaded with God to let the doctors be wrong, and to prove that our second child was still alive.

I should have been 11 weeks pregnant, but Emma’s tiny little body only measured 8 weeks. She was already gone. There was nothing we could do to save her. The doctors sent me home to miscarry.

This would be the last night as a family of four, as I still carried the shell of Emma’s lifeless body within me.

We left the hospital to go home to our full-of-life two year old. After a seemingly endless night, we had to return to the emergency room the following day–to have a D&C. I was not able to miscarry naturally at home, as we had hoped. This terrible dream continued.

My husband and I never felt more alone than in the days and weeks that followed. Our friends and family loved us and cared about us, but admittedly had no idea what to say, or what to do.

What meant the most is that people simply showed up. The greatest acts of love were shared through a handmade baby blanket, meals that were delivered, and cards that arrived in the mail.

I prayed for peace, for comfort, and for the day I would not cry myself to sleep. With each passing day, the pain seemed to lessen, but the love we had for our precious baby remained.

You are not alone

In the years of healing following Emma’s death, I’ve come to realize how many people tried to help us, but just weren’t sure how. I’ve also been able to look back and see what really brought us comfort in our hardest moments.

Studies show that nearly one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth. Chances are, either you, your sister, neighbor, co-worker or friend will experience the death of a baby before birth. My prayer is that this post might help you with practical ways to reach out to a hurting loved one.

forever in our hearts (1)
Photo Credit: Mindy Joy Photography

Ways to Help a Friend Following the Death of a Baby

Be there

Literally. Offer to sit and listen. You may not feel like you have the right words to say, so don’t feel like you have to. Know that nothing you can say will make the pain disappear.

Try avoiding clichés

Don’t say things like, “It was God’s will,” or “You’re young, you can get pregnant again.” While words can’t make the pain go away, these words can inadvertently cause other feelings to arise.

Offer empathy

Acknowledge the pain and feelings that your friend is experiencing. Remind her that it is OK to feel the way she is.

Do Something

If you want to help, give a gift of your time. Do her dishes or laundry. Offer to watch her other children. Bring her dinner. Ask her what you can do for her that will help her the most.

Be Patient

Her pain will not heal overnight. Some days will be better than others for her. If you are pregnant or have small children, know that she might want to distance herself from you. Don’t take it personally. Let her know that you will be there for her, whenever she needs your support.

Acknowledge the baby

Ask if they had a name picked out for the baby, and if so, refer to the baby by that name. No matter how small the baby might be, he or she was already a beloved member of that family. The miscarriage means a loss of life, and they need time to mourn the loss of not only their baby, but all of the hopes and dreams they had for that baby.

Remember the Dad

If there is a husband or boyfriend in her life, he is going to need support, too. Men and women grieve differently, but he will still need your compassion. Men often don’t show their emotions the same way women do, but that doesn’t mean he is not hurting.

Honor special dates

Send her a card on important dates such as what would have been the baby’s due date. Remember the baby’s birthday. No matter how far along the baby was, he or she was still born, honor that day the following year. Consider giving a personalized Christmas ornament.

hudsons band of hope

Give her something to hold onto

Be it a blanket, a teddy bear, a memory box, or something else, give your friend something to hold in her hands, to remember her baby. I give all families experiencing a loss a personalized box, filled with a blanket, tea, wildflower seeds, soft tissues, and other items that might be meaningful to her.

Follow this link to The Haven Network’s page on Pinterest for some additional ideas. We also give every grieving mother a bracelet from Hudson’s Band of Hope made in loving memory of a baby named Hudson. These bracelets are beautiful, and have meant so much to hurting moms.

Help her find additional support

Help your friend find resources and people that might help during this time of grief. Help her find a support group,counselor, bereavement center, or Stillbirthday doula in your area.

The death of a child is one of the most painful events a person will experience. To the person or couple going through the miscarriage, it may feel overwhelming. Now, more than ever, they will need a comforting hug, listening ear, and reassurance that while this storm in life will pass, they will not walk through the rain alone.

Have you gone through a miscarriage? What did your friends and family do that was the most helpful?

Other posts related to this topic that you may want to read:

Guest writer Tiffany Wogsland is the Director of Family Services for The Haven Network, Northern Illinois’ Perinatal Hospice and Bereavement Center. She is also a Stillbirthday Certified Birth and Bereavement Doula. She supports families prior to, during and after birth, in any trimester. She considers it an honor to walk alongside of families during their hardest moments, as well as to celebrate with them during “rainbow” pregnancies, which are pregnancies after a loss. Her greatest and most challenging call in life is that of wife and mother. She can be reached by email at heldbyhope@hotmail.com

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9 Comments

  1. I had a miscarriage when I was 19. My now husband and I never told anyone. For the longest time we didn’t talk about it. It was hard. It would have been nice to have someone been there for us. Thank you for sharing this, I now know how I could help someone going through a loss.

    1. Yvonne, I’m sorry about your loss. Many families, especially those who experienced a miscarriage several years ago, never felt they were able to talk about their child. I am thankful that slowly we are breaking the silence about pregnancy and infant loss, so that we can reach out to other hurting families. Peace to you and your family.

  2. Have you read “Inheritance of Tears” by Jessalyn Hutto yet? I just experienced a miscarriage about a month ago and devoured the whole book (+/- 100 pages, so not long) last night. Very helpful and encouraging.

  3. This is a great post. I miscarried my first baby last July when I was supposed to be 9 weeks along, though the baby had only made it to 6 weeks. God was good to carry me through the next several months of intense grief and then allowed me to get pregnant again three months after my miscarriage. My due date for this little boy is just days away from my first child’s birth day, which will make that date a joyful time. I am so thankful, but I am also still grieving, even after 8 months. I will always miss that baby even while I love this one. I clicked over to Hudson’s Bands of Hope and bawled my eyes out reading and identifying with her story. But I didn’t see any way to purchase a bracelet. Could you share the link for that? Thanks.

    1. Jane, you can follow this link to the Hudson’s Bands of Hope page. If you click on the “contact us” tab, you’ll see the email address to contact them, and request a bracelet. http://hudsonsbandsofhope.blogspot.com/p/contact-us.html

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for your loss, and am celebrating with you on the pregnancy of your rainbow baby you are currently expecting!

  4. Two years ago we had a miscarriage. The baby was twelve weeks along. We had been in my doctor’s office the day before and everything was fine. The next day it wasn’t. I had a D&C and my MIL said some things that were meant to be comforting and came from a place of love, but we’re instead daggers in my heart. The things we most appreciated hearing were “I’m sorry. You’re in my prayers. What can I do for you?” Meals were nice. Friends just being there and being supportive was nice. You become part of a club you never wanted to join. It’s easier to talk to people who’ve gone through it. My husband had a talk with his mom and told her we understood she was trying to help, but stick to those three sentences. Anything else has great potential to cause pain.

  5. “I’ll hold you in heaven” is another great book. My best friend gave me the book and always acknowledges my little Emily, which I find very comforting. I encourage anyone who experiences a miscarriage to know that your love for your little one is valid, and it is ok to hurt and to grieve. You lost a child! Seek positive sources of comfort and work with your husband to find ways to grieve and heal together. I wish I had guidance on how to do it together, but working through this together was our biggest marriage hurdle. I just wanted to share that- it is never to late to address a loss and find ways to comfort each other. It can do wonders to bring you back to each other. May God bless you and bring you healing.