Before my experience with miscarriage, it was difficult for me to understand how to comfort a mother who’s experienced such a loss. I was fearful of reaching out, saying the wrong thing, or bringing up something that she had already moved past.
Despite what may seem taboo, my husband and I decided to be very open about our miscarriage: from the details of the experience to the grieving and healing process. To our surprise, we had dozens of sweet friends and family members reach out to us. Although the common experience that brought them to us was unfortunate, the community and support that materialized was momentous, beautiful, and inspiring.
Because of my experience, I wanted to offer these tips for loving a mom through miscarriage when you aren’t sure what to do or say.
1. Reach Out, Listen, Connect Mom with Community
There’s so much meaning in the sincere simple words, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” If you only have that to say, reach out anyway. You don’t need several words to show that you care and recognize the loss. Next, be ready to listen if she needs to talk. If you are resourceful, connect her to communities that can help her heal through the loss, whether it’s a support group, another mom with a similar experience, or a trusted counselor.
2. Recognize the Child ( . . . but allow mom to recognize baby as she wishes)
We’ve spent our whole pregnancy dreaming about this child in our arms. No matter what week of pregnancy we were in, we lost our “child.” Some mothers, however, will choose to recognize and take comfort in the stage the child was in at the time of loss. Be aware of how the mother wants the baby to be addressed, and respect her wishes.
3. Share Simple Gestures
Simple gestures go great distances: a simple text, a hug, a prayer, a gift card, a book, or even a handwritten card. In fact, there’s so much beauty and sincerity in an old-fashioned card. It means someone took the time to choose a card, sit down and write, and deliver the message. Cards can be held, kept, and displayed.
4. Ask Her What She Needs
A mama that just experienced a miscarriage may be too overwhelmed with grief to fold her pregnancy clothes and pack them away, to cook dinner, or to do the dishes. Simply ask her what her needs are, and be prepared to offer suggestions if she says “I don’t know” or “It’s okay.”
5. If You Start To Say “Well at Least…” Stop Right There.
DANGER! If you’re starting your sentence with “Well at least…” it’s probably not going anywhere good. This usually happens when a sincere friend wants mama to see the small light of hope. Unfortunately, the start of this sentence feels more like undercutting the weight of our loss and not allowing us to mourn. If mama wants to use this phrase, allow her, but in comforting her, don’t use it.
(For more on what not to say, check out this post)
6. Offer to Bring the Family a Meal or Pick Up Their Groceries
Nothing warms the heart like friendship and a home-cooked meal. Bringing a meal alleviates the family from cooking and meal planning and fills the belly and heart.
7. Watch Mama’s Kids
One difficult part about grieving the loss of a child is that daily routine still continues. A two-year-old child may still want her regular home cooked breakfast, to watch Frozen, to run, and giggle, and climb. It can be difficult to mourn when a child doesn’t understand. Simply offering to take the kids for a day, or even a few hours, allows mama and daddy to have time together to rest, process, mourn, or go on a much needed date.
8. Help Mama Care for Herself
After miscarriage, some of us mamas forget to care for ourselves – not just emotionally, but mentally, physically, and spiritually. Perhaps send some hand scrub, a short book of encouragement, a candle, make a scripture/inspiration-a-day to pull from a jar, or even offer a gift certificate for an in-home massage.
9. Follow Up
I know that “How are you doing?” can seem like a silly question for a mom that’s experiencing grief, but it sends a much more important message: it communicates that not only do you care, but you’re ready to listen. It’s an invitation for mama to tell you what’s on her mind.
10. Remember Baby’s Due Date and Name
Remembering the due date and the name of baby gives recognition and significance to the being we recognized as “our child.” It’s something concrete we hold on to when the loss is so abstract. When my due date had arrived, our sweet cousin surprised my husband and me with a small birthday cake. It meant so much to me that someone else recognized and remembered our little one, and wanted to help make the day more meaningful. But, you don’t have to buy a cake, a simple card to mama with her baby’s name is a beautiful gesture.
I hope this helps build your confidence in reaching out to moms that are going through a miscarriage. If you have any extra tips, please leave us a comment and share.