Someone you care about just experienced pregnancy loss. You want to support them, but you aren’t sure what to do.
Loss is hard, but the loss of a child is especially difficult. Even though roughly 1 in 4 people experience a miscarriage and 1 in 100 pregnancies end in stillbirth, the topic of pregnancy and infant loss is still not widely shared and understood.
The grieving parents need support which can come in all shapes and sizes. Even the smallest gestures can leave a lasting impression.
With my own experience, I’ll never forget the OBGYN that gave me permission and encouragement to grieve. The friends and family that supported me throughout. The less than supportive and unhelpful comments brushing off a life because it was young. The feeling of isolation. The lack of education and support for understanding and allowing myself to be a postpartum woman in need of care, rest, and love.
Words matter. Actions too. The following lists will help to give you an idea of where to start when approaching a loved one that just experienced a loss.
What NOT to say
– Everything happens for a reason
– At least you know you can get pregnant, you can try again soon
– At least it was early in your pregnancy
– Feel blessed that you have other healthy children
– It wasn’t meant to be
– Do you think that ___caused it?
While most people may approach the grieving parents with the best of intentions, these phrases can be extremely hurtful. If you’re struggling with what to say, keep it simple. Acknowledge the loss; don’t try to avoid discussing or diminish it. Simply saying “I’m sorry for your loss” can be enough.
Are you finding this info helpful? Download the free guide to Pregnancy Loss: Understanding, Support, and Recovery to Help You Navigate Miscarriage and Stillbirth
Ways you can support
– Be there to listen
Miscarriage can often be an isolating and lonely experience. Letting them know you are there both physically and mentally can help lessen the burden of isolation. Don’t try to fix or solve their feelings, just listen.
– Check in over time
As holidays, due dates, and loss anniversaries approach, grief can become raw once more. Check in on those days too, not just in the immediate aftermath of loss.
– Offer physical support
Meal prepping, house cleaning, and running errands can all be a tremendous help to a grieving family. Anything that you would do for a traditional postpartum mom, because miscarriage and infant loss is still postpartum.
– Encourage healing
Two days off work or back on their feet by the end of the week is likely not in their best interest. Encourage the mom especially to take the time that she needs to recover both physically and mentally.
These resources can help you dig deeper into pregnancy and infant loss and ways you can support a loved one going through loss.
- https://twopeaswellness.com/returning-to-fitness-after-pregnancy-loss/ (Returning to fitness after pregnancy loss)
- https://stillbirthday.com/ (For information on all forms of pregnancy and infant loss)
- https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pregnancy-loss-miscarriage/symptoms-causes/syc-20354298 (Breaking down the medical terminology surrounding loss and treatment)
- https://exhaleprovoice.org/ (Abortion support)
If you’re struggling with what to say and do for a loved one that is experiencing pregnancy or infant loss, please use these lists and additional resources to help give you helpful and tangible ways to offer support.