How to Care for a Friend Who’s Had a Miscarriage
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In the last month, three of my younger friends have had miscarriages. I wish my experience was unique.
While statistics on miscarriages vary—because as many as 75 percent of fertilized eggs, including those that fail to implant, miscarry—15-20 percent of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage. And although the biology of conception hasn't changed since I was bearing my own now-grown children, the explosion of home pregnancy tests in the 1990s does mean that more women confirm more pregnancies sooner. As a result, more women today are facing the reality of miscarriage and more are learning to navigate life after that loss.
Graciously, there is less secrecy and shame today than there once was around miscarriage: women post pregnancy loss announcements on social media, hospitals offer bereavement services that can include burial, and some women choose to name the children they've lost.
Yet despite a degree of increased transparency, many of us feel tongue-tied around those who've recently experienced a miscarriage.
In my work with women who've lost children to premature deaths, detailed in He Knows Your Name: How One Abandoned Baby Inspired Me to Say Yes to God, I've discovered a few ways to support women navigating the loss of miscarriage.
1. Be Present
Don't let your discomfort keep you from showing up to support a friend or family member who has endured a miscarriage. Text her. Send her a card. Clean her house. Babysit her older children. Communicate that you know and you care.
Because a woman who's experienced a miscarriage may feel isolated and alone, it's important to listen well. Whether you call her or show up at her office to take her to lunch, create opportunities for her to share her heart. Refrain from offering your opinions and focus on listening well.
3. Notice Her Needs
In the wake of a miscarriage, a woman is healing both physically and emotionally. Physically, she may be cramping or bleeding. Emotionally, she may need a listening ear or a space to grieve. She might even need a ride to the doctor. Pay attention to her needs and show up to help.
4. Make Room for Naming
Some women choose to name the child they've lost. While that's a very personal choice, I've seen it be redemptive for many. When one young friend miscarried, she chose a name for her baby. And while she decided not to share it publicly, holding it in her heart was part of her grieving process.
Whether a woman goes on to have a subsequent child or not, she never forgets the baby she lost. Milestones such as the anticipated due date or the births of others' babies around the same time may ignite feelings of loss. Be aware that those markers may sting.
Most women who've lost a baby to miscarriage want what we all want: to be seen, heard, known, and loved.
The most important thing you can do is to show up. Whether she is single or married, whether her pregnancy was planned or not, whether she has other kids or not, let her know that her experience matters to you.
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