Ways You Can Help

Miscarriage is sad, debilitating, heart-breaking, and lonely.  At the time, it can seem that the pain and silence of  your loss may never end.  And while no-one can fully take away the pain, there are some ways in which others can help carry the burden and ease the suffering.  The following is what I have found helpful from my own experience.

Allow and expect grief - this is normal.  A woman's bond with her unborn child is something incredible - and to have this bond and dream for the future taken away is heart-breaking.  Be there to offer a shoulder to cry on.  Listen to her outpouring of tears.  Don't try and 'fix things'.  Listen and allow her to express how she feels.

Don't shy away - a woman already feels lonely and isolated as a result of a miscarriage.  Don't assume that you need to 'give her some time' and thus stay away.  What she probably needs (or wants but is afraid to ask) is your friendship and to know that you are there.  Be sensitive, but don't stay away.  We had so many well-meaning people send letters, cards and flowers (we had enough flowers to open our own florist shop and more), but most people stayed away.  This added to the complete sense that we were so alone in this experience.

Send flowers, make a call, write a note or card.  It is okay to do this. Often time and distance limit us from connecting with those who are suffering, but by doing any of these things, it really does show that you care.

Don't say I know how you feel.  You don't.  You may have had a similar experience, but everyone handles things differently.

Offer specific help.  Instead of asking How can I help?  (Most people, when asked how they can be helped, will respond with something like, I'm okay thanks.)  Perhaps be specific and say I am bringing a meal over or I'm bringing some groceries for you.  One of our friends gave us a basket of grocery items, magazines and other bits & pieces.  This was really special as it meant that I didn't have to worry about shopping for food.  It was practical and allowed us time to take things at our own pace.

Don't forget the father. Often the father suffers in silence.  Fathers don't share the same connection with the unborn baby that the mother does.  And because they are not going through the physicality of a miscarriage they can often internalise their grief.  I know my husband didn't fully appreciate my own feelings when we lost the babies, but he was grieving too. It took him a while to open up, and it was so good for him to have someone else to talk to, other than me.

You may feel awkward in talking/relating to someone who has suffered a miscarriage.  But just remember, that saying or doing something (with sensitivity) is better than keeping silent.  Just something to show that you care, even if you're worried it's not the 'right' thing, is better than nothing.  And that's what is needed during this sad time.

This post was first published by Debbie on her blog, Aspiring Mum, on 30 May 2010.

Find further suggestions on how to help from other contributors here.

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