Society’s tendency is to avoid talking about miscarriages because it can be too distressing. It is difficult to move on if you don’t talk about it. Miscarriage can leave a woman feeling ready for the birth of a child. Grief is an organic process that takes place over time and can be experienced differently by each person. While you cannot take away grief from someone in pain, it is possible to reduce stress and help them feel less anxious by being more informed.
What to Say to Someone Who Had a Miscarriage
Parents who experience a miscarriage often turn to their grandparents, other relatives, friends, and professionals to help them. You may feel vulnerable, helpless or threatened if you are a support person. Sometimes you may want to avoid the pain or hide your grief. These natural emotions can be turned into support for the grieving friend or family member.
How can family and friends show support?
- Listen, listen, and listen! Someone who has had a miscarriage might need to share his/her story multiple times. Your attentiveness, gestures and eye contact will show you care.
- Talk about your baby. A grieving person can heal by hearing others use the name. Sometimes it’s best to remain silent. Sometimes a grieving person just wants someone to listen.
- Grief can have both physical and emotional effects on the body. Poor appetite, disturbed sleep patterns and restlessness are all possible physical reactions. Emotional reactions include anxiety, panic attacks, nervousness, and nightmares. Encourage your friend or relative to reach out to you if they feel these emotions.
- Allow the grieving person to express their pain and stress. The normal process of grieving and healing can be achieved by working through anger, guilt and sadness. Encourage communication. Understanding that grief is an individual process and is not tied to a specific timeframe. This time frame involves living with loss and its memories.
- Reassure the person grieving that their emotions and reactions are normal and necessary to heal. Be aware that emotional responses may be triggered by specific events or dates, such as the anniversary or due date. Encourage communication during this time. You might consider sending a small token of appreciation or a card.
Are there any suggestions for someone who has had a miscarriage at home or in the hospital?
Acceptance of the family’s sadness and acknowledging it is okay to express your feelings are both acceptable. Sometimes, people saying “I don’t know what I should say” is the best thing they can do.
Some other helpful suggestions are:
- Talk about your baby by his/her name.
- Discuss the dreams and hopes you had for the baby and your family. Parents want others to share their dreams and hopes.
- Learn about grief and miscarriage.
- You can make or buy something in the memory of your baby, to keep it or give it to the parents.
- Help with cooking, cleaning, and childcare.
- Be open to the unexpected emotions of the grieving parent.
- Be aware that sometimes, a person in grief may need to be left alone.
- You can offer to keep memorabilia from your baby until you are ready.
- Offer to return maternity clothes or other baby items.
What are some things you shouldn’t do or say?
Family and friends can say or do hurtful words after a miscarriage.
Avoid hurtful words or actions when you are supporting someone who is grieving:
- It can be difficult to acknowledge the loss. However, many parents feel it is important that their experience is acknowledged.
- It can be hurtful to ask about the partner’s health and well-being, but not the other. Asking “How are you?” and “How is your partner?” shows that you care about them both and that you recognize their grief.
- There is no competition in grief. Each person’s loss should be treated as a loss. Some sayings, such as “It was just a miscarriage, it will pass,” “You’re young, and you can have another one,” can be very hurtful.
- Do not rush through the grieving process. This will only lead to more pain, confusion, loneliness, inadequacy, and other feelings.
Support is not:
- Criticize what you’ve heard.
- Reduce miscarriage by, e.g., “It’s okay, it was only three months.”
- Using cliches, e.g., it was God’s will, or you’ve already had one healthy child.
- Talking about your loss is a good idea. While some identification can be useful, keeping it to an absolute minimum is best.
- It is important not to allow the person to feel guilt, shame, or anger.
- It is possible to feel helpless and powerless if you take over the entire situation.
- It can’t be fixed ( it is impossible to remove the grief).
What would a grandparent think about a miscarriage?
You may feel pain twice as a grandparent when there is a miscarriage. For your child, it is likely to be hurting. But for your grandchild, you won’t know. You may have memories from other miscarriages in your grandparent’s history that can resurface during this time, which could make grief feelings stronger.
Here are some suggestions for grandparents to cope with loss:
- Talk about your feelings with a friend, family member or counselor.
- You have experienced loss.
What about siblings and brothers?
A miscarriage will most likely affect any other children. This is regardless of whether they are aware of the pregnancy or not. Children are often forgotten during times of grief after a miscarriage. Children must understand that they grieve according to the loss and stress they feel and what they see around them.
It is important to communicate with children at their level about the miscarriage in truthful, appropriate terms that they can understand. Children may react differently to grief than adults. They might ask questions, have fears and express their feelings differently. Young children might be more attached, upset and anxious than older ones. Older children might be more aggressive, disruptive, or unusually quiet.
- Encourage children to ask questions and to express their emotions.
- Children who are old enough can participate in the grieving process. You could say goodbye to someone, draw a picture, plant a tree, or even say goodbye.
- Remain patient.