(Copied with permission from Mindful Serenity by Jenni Brighton.)
This information is also available from The Amethyst Network in brochure form.
I have created this list based on my own experiences, as well as asking other moms who have miscarried…obviously each person is a little different…several moms commented that it made a difference WHO was saying/doing the thing as to whether it was appropriate or not. For example, many moms felt awkward about a hug from someone they weren’t close to, but craved hugs from family members or close friends. One mom said she appreciated when a close friend reminded her that miscarriage is nature’s way of natural selection, but that she would have been really hurt if a mere acquaintance had said it…
What to say:
- “I’m sorry”
- “I love you”
- “I’ve been thinking about you”
- Acknowledge the baby (“I heard…” etc)
- If you have ever miscarried, tell her so. She needs to feel not alone. Tell her the things that helped you–they are very likely to help her, and even if they don’t, she will appreciate the sentiment.
- Still talk about the pregnancy (symptoms, how you told people, etc) Just because the pregnancy ended in tragedy doesn’t mean it was any less of a pregnancy.
What to NOT say:
- “You can/will have other babies”
- “At least you have other children”
- “At least you know you can get pregnant”
- “At least you were only __ weeks along/didn’t go to full term”
- “____ would have been harder/worse”
- “At least you had an easy recovery”
- “You are young enough to have lots more babies”
- “It’s nature/God’s way of getting rid of an imperfect fetus”
- “He/She is in a better place”
- “It wasn’t a baby yet”
- “You need to move on/get over it”
- Nothing (when mom knows that you know, and you say nothing, it HURTS)
- NEVER call it the medical term “spontaneous abortion.” That makes it sound like the baby wasn’t wanted, and for a mom who wants children, especially if she’s miscarried more than once, use of that term cuts deep. I don’t care how technical it is (and would somebody tell the doctors this?! They don’t seem to understand.)
What to do
- Acknowledge the baby as a BABY
- Bring over dinner–don’t ask, just do it
- Come over and clean the house–don’t ask, just call and say you’re coming
- Come over and just talk…talk about the baby if she wants to. Talk about anything BUT the baby if she wants to.
- Give hugs
- Help her find distractions if she wants them (movies, books, projects)
- Don’t distract her if she doesn’t want it
- Bring her a little gift–something for HER, such as a sweet-smelling candle, some cookies, or a soft little blanket. One friend brought me a ‘hug’ in the form of a snuggly fleece blanket…it was the best thing anyone did for me.
- Help care for other children (remember this is a post partum period, just as it would be had the baby been full term, and mom needs peace and rest)
- Pray for her (and her family)
- If you have been there, help her know what to expect physically (with natural miscarriage, D&C, or subsequent fertility)
What to NOT do
- Pretend nothing ever happened.
- Assume that mom (or dad) is feeling fine, just because they are taking care of business again.
- Change the subject away from the baby (let HER do it if she wants to–she probably won’t)
- Don’t assume that her family/close friends are handling everything…if you know her a little (just from church, for example), you can still help a lot. (The lady that brought me the ‘hug’ was someone I hardly knew, yet her thoughtfulness bonded us.)
- Don’t casually mention that so and so is pregnant with number 1, 2, 5, 10, whatever… it’s not about pregnancy in a generic way, it’s about HER baby that is gone.
Remember that dad is probably mourning too…men often prefer to shut out the pain by seeking distraction, so they may seem chipper and normal…but that doesn’t mean they actually feel that way.
In the following weeks and months, consider the following:
- Mom may not feel up to going to baby showers, or she may cling to them…so invite her, but don’t feel offended if she doesn’t come, and don’t question her about it either way. This is ESPECIALLY important for babies due around when her baby was due.
- Offer to let her hold babies…it may be healing for her…but do not pressure her to do it if she declines, because it may also just hurt too much.
- Don’t hide your pregnancy from her to ‘spare her feelings’. Tell her when you tell everyone else. It’s hard to not be pregnant when others are, but it’s even harder when a friend or neighbor is obviously pregnant, and yet never told you…
- When you DO tell her about your pregnancy, do so gently…it can help to start with something like “I’m not sure how to bring this up, but I didn’t want you to hear it from someone else…”