How to support someone after a miscarriage
Miscarriage is a unique and often stigmatized experience. Because of the lack of conversations about it in society, the emotional burden is not well understood and often underestimated. Although a miscarriage is common and not necessarily a medically serious issue (it can be, but not always), it can still take a huge emotional toll on someone.
Many people struggle with getting the support they need from friends and family, and the trauma is often not only rooted in what happened, but also in how the experience was (or rather wasn't) validated or dignified by others.
Therefore, if someone you know has suffered a miscarriage, it may be valuable to understand how the you can support them.
Acknowledge their loss
Miscarriage can be very lonely because although it feels like a loss for the person it happens to, society has traditionally not allowed it to be grieved openly; there are few norms or ceremonies honouring this kind of loss. You may worry that you will say the wrong thing ot think that it’s best not to say anything. However, simply acknowledging the loss can really help. Let them know that you’re sorry for what has happened and that you are there for them.
In fact, it is often appreciated if you treat it like any other loss and do the same thing you would if someone for example lost their father, for example sending flowers or a supportive text message.
Listen, don't give advice - and choose your words carefully
When someone you love is sad, it’s natural to try to help out by giving them advice or trying to encourage them that it could be worse and will work out in the end. Despite these comments coming from a good place, what people in mourning need the most is someone who just listens.
Unsolicited advice or stories about other people's miscarriage experiences, even when it’s meant with good intentions, can be triggering and even condescending, and backfire for you both. Try to only share information if your friend has vocalised that this would be helpful.
And avoid comments like "“I’m sure it will work out for you” (how can you be?), "At least you weren't farther along", "You can always try for another one”, "You're still so young", "Stay positive" or "Everything happens for a reason". You may be trying to say something comforting, but it will most like come off as though you’re not taking what’s happened seriously, and just make the person feel alone.
"After a while of being told what I should be feeling (positive and hopeful), I just stopped telling people how I was actually feeling (hopeful but really sad) - it was much less triggering to just cry alone on a park bench."
Be sensitive about pregnancy
Try to remember that it can be difficult for people who have lost a pregnancy when others become pregnant or have babies.
There’s no need for you to feel guilty about sharing happy news, but if you know that it can be triggering and that it can remind them of their loss, you can be sensitive about these feelings. You can let them know that you understand and don't expect them to be interested or involved if that's tough for them.
Don't stop asking too soon
A miscarriage can take time to heal, so even if the person stops talking about it you can check in to see how they are doing even after a while.
Should they become pregnant again that will also be a time of worry, and it's appreciated if friends acknowledge that.
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