Sunday, November 20, 2011

Helpful hints for dealing

On the heels of my "Words" post, I got to thinking about what was and wasn't helpful (both words and actions) during my miscarriage, that happened exactly two months ago today. Before I had mine I knew a few women who had one, but up until our good friends had one weeks before us it hadn't hit anyone super close to me and I didn't really know how to "deal with" those who had one. I've read similar blog posts about how to treat someone who has lost a child, how to talk to a family with children via adoption, how to best help someone who has cancer, and most recently a post like this from a Blogger I read who also had a miscarriage. All of these posts have been extremely beneficial for me to read, as I didn't know that the words I was using or the actions I was (or wasn't!) doing were potentially hurtful and not helpful in someone else's tragic situation - the last thing a well intentioned person wants.

Here are my thoughts, and just MY thoughts, on what was and wasn't helpful for me during our hard time. This may not be the case for all women who are part of this "club", but such was the case for me. I hope this doesn't come across as harsh or anything, and the reason I have this list is because most people in my life did the DO's and not the DONT's during my hard time - I am so lucky!
First of all, know that it’s OKAY to not know what to say! You can say just that. “I’m so sorry, friend. I don’t know what to say. I hate that this is happening to you and I wish I could make it better.”
  • Do say "I'm sorry for your loss" because that's exactly what it is - a loss. 
  • Don't speculate (especially aloud!) as to why it happened, as if it were a disease, horrible medical condition, or something that could have been helped.

  • Do send texts and emails and leave messages. I can't tell you how much it meant to have people checking in via text to say "I love you and am thinking about you."
  • Don't expect those calls, texts, and emails to be returned right away, but know they are much appreciated. Checking in is good, but give the person some time and space to grieve and they will get back to you when ready.

  • Do send a card. We got a flurry of cards in the mail right after it happened and people started to find out, and reading each one (especially from people I least expected it from!) made me feel so loved and brought a smile to my face. The fact that people took the time to write, address, and stamp a letter to mail meant a lot. It will certainly make me better at sending cards to those experiencing tragedy as I know how much it helped me!
  • Maybe even send flowers - I got four bouquets and let me tell you, they brightened my house up and brought such joy in time of sorrow.
  • Don't ask "how are you doing" in the few days following the loss because the real answer is "crappy" which no one actually says, and it takes effort to make up a response other than "fine".

  • Do offer to bring a meal, if you want. My mom brought over a meal and it was so nice not to have to worry about cooking or have to eat frozen pizza, but to have the comfort of a nice meal. Offering up help in any way was so appreciated, and we had many offers from friends who wanted to bring ice cream, wine, clean our house, etc. We didn't really take anyone up on it but just knowing my friends and family cared that much and offered their time and help was an awesome feeling.
  • Don't say (at least not right away) "You'll have another one" because you don't 100% know that, and it minimizes the current loss. Getting pregnant isn't easy, and immediately after the loss isn't the time to think or talk about the trying again.

  • Do offer up success stories of pregnancy after miscarriage, when you feel the person is ready to receive it (and this depends on the person if they want to hear it). I had many people tell me about their or someone they knew's pregnancy success after loss and though every story is different, hearing those gave me hope.
  • Don't say "I know how you feel" unless you've also had a miscarriage. Even if you've lost a close family member, this kind of loss is different than any I've experienced so though you can sympathize, don't try to empathize unless you, too, are a part of the "club".

  • Do be a listening ear if the person wants to talk, but
  • Don't ask too many questions. Sometimes it was really helpful to talk about it, but when I wanted to be done talking about it, I wanted to be done talking about it.

  • Do offer up distraction when the person is ready - dinner out, a movie, shopping, something to get their mind off of things and get them out of the house.
  • Don't bring the person somewhere where there are a lot of babies or pregnant women. Now I know that's hard because they are everywhere! I avoided Target for a few weeks because it was filled with expectant moms, but I'm just saying don't take the person to a park, for instance. :)

  • Do know that the person loves your babies and kids and in any normal circumstance, loves hearing about them, but immediately after a miscarriage may not be the best time to tell a cute anecdote about Junior. And this next one is really hard, but...
  • Tread lightly in talking about your pregnancy if you are currently pregnant and have a friend who loses a baby - at least for a few days. This was tough for me because I had a few friends who were pregnant at the time I had my miscarriage. While I was happy for them before our loss and was still happy for them after, hearing about their pregnancy in the few days following our loss would have been really hard. Luckily, my friends are very sensitive and tactful, and no one did that. :)
  • Do understand that the person may not get over it right away or in the time that society thinks they should. There isn't a well known statistic that say "4-6 weeks is the average grieving time for miscarriage" because, well, there isn't a timeline for that. Everyone else around may forget about it, but the person it happened to has a hard time "just getting over it". Even though it's now been two months since mine, I still have hard days and certain things still trigger emotions from the loss.
  • Lastly, and perhaps most important is Do pray for the person and their spouse and let them know you are doing so. Hearing from friends (even still!) that they were praying for me was such a blessing, as sometimes I didn't have the words to say myself, so knowing someone was interceding for me was awesome. Prayer us powerful and a HUGE part of the reason I'm doing as well as I am - God's healing power through my loved ones praying for me. I don't know how I would have gotten through this with those prayers covering me.

Anyway, as I've said recently, things are getting better day by day and I am excited (though a little anxious and nervous) to try again. I just happened to read another post like this the other day and came up with some thoughts of my own that may or may not be helpful to others. If anything, it's good for me to have it written down so that I know how to help anyone else who joins this "club", though I pray no one else close to me has to!


  1. First off, I want to apologize for not being there for you like I should. I can honestly say that Nate and I have been praying for you and Tyge everyday.

    Secondly, thank you for this. We just had super close friends of ours in our small group lose their baby at 13 weeks, so this is really helpful.

    Love you and would still love to get together (most likely as you said in 2012).

  2. You were totally there for me Natalie! I so appreciated your email, texts, comments on here and most important your PRAYERS! Prayers for healing are the most important thing I could ask for (I'm going to edit the post in fact!) and I can feel your and Nate's. Thank you. :)

    And I'm so sorry to hear about your friends - I wouldn't wish that on anyway. I will keep them in my prayers. Glad my words could help, that was my goal.

    Let's email soon about a 2012 get together. Have a blessed Thanksgiving - we both have a lot to be thankful for!

    Love, K