I remember feeling so unprepared. I had no idea how traumatic having a miscarriage would be both physically and emotionally. It was hard on my body, which had already adjusted to being pregnant. I had a ton of unexpected feelings ranging from shame and embarrassment to relief. And it was even hard for my husband and I to deal with as a couple because it felt so different for him than it did for me. Friends of mine who had never been through a miscarriage, or even childbirth at all, struggled to find ways to be supportive. They mainly just had no idea what I was going through, so didn’t know what to say, or if they should say anything at all.
Now that we are on the other side of a painful time, I have loads of insight on what going through this is like, and how to talk to a friend who has recently been through a miscarriage. About 1 in 4 women experience this, so it’s much more common than you think. You’ll find that many women simply haven’t talked about it because either no one asks them, or they’ve felt it’s awkward or inappropriate to share.
My philosophy on talking to a friend about anything hard is this:
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
(Thank you, Aesop, and Amen to that!) If your intention is to be supportive, then go for it. Here are some tips for what to say, and when.
“I love you no matter what. Reach out to me anytime, for any reason.”
Often we just need to hear the people we love remind us that they love us. This is a great thing to say once you’ve heard the news. Let your friend know that no matter what she’s feeling or needing, you’re there for her. I felt much better to hear someone say something short and sweet, rather than avoid the subject and say nothing. Sometimes all I could muster was an emoji heart response, and that’s okay.
“I have no idea what’s appropriate to say or do, but I’m here for you.”
If you’re really at a loss, just tell your friend this. It’s appropriate to say at anytime and they’ll totally understand, yet still feel the love and care from you.
“If you don’t want to talk about it, let me know. But if you do, how are you feeling?”
Asking how someone is feeling is such a loaded question. Give your friend the option to not talk about it first, and then keep the door open to be a friendly ear. I’d say a few days after you’ve initially touched base, this is a great follow up. I felt like talking about my experience helped me heal, so appreciated when friends didn’t avoid it. I also felt sometimes like the avoidance was more awkward than just asking me outright how I was doing.
“I know this may be a hard time for you, so I would love to help you take your mind off it. Want to get a mani tomorrow?”
I loved it when friends reached out to get some quality time in with me and take me out of the house. I’d be sure to wait until it’s a week or more after you hear the news, as outings immediately following something traumatic can feel overwhelming. Making the plan for me, and making it easy to say yes to something small really helped me get out of my funk. Offer to take your friend out for something easy and non-committal, and be sure to plan all the details from picking her up to choosing the place.
“I’ve been in this situation too, and would love to chat with you about it if you’d like.”
If you have also had a miscarriage and feel comfortable sharing, offer to do so. This is a great thing to express at any time. I found so much comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone. I had almost a dozen friends also experience this form of loss, and never had any idea! It brought us closer being able to relate to each other, it really gave me hope that I’d heal, and also that my dreams for another child in the future were totally possible.
No matter what we go through in life, we are never alone.
Though sometimes it feels like we are. I encourage you to be brave and offer to share your story if you feel it would be helpful.
It’s often through the hardest times that our friendships are truly tested. As your friend goes through a traumatic season of life, I applaud you for reaching out and walking with her through it. Nothing is as valuable as the love and support of a good friend who can weather any storm with you. On a final note, all people process loss and grief differently. Some cry, some hide it and act “normal”, and some really are at peace throughout the experience. Try to withhold judgment and simply be supportive.