“There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes.” – David Platt
Grieving A Miscarriage
For those of us who have never suffered through a miscarriage, it’s hard to know what to say or to even understand the depth of a woman’s grief. It may be easy to think that she will have more chances for other children or ‘at least she has another child.’ Since the baby was never born alive, you may even wonder if this makes her loss less profound.
Left To Mourn A Dream Alone
Grieving the death of an unborn child, however, is no different than grieving than any other loss. Yet, somehow our expectations for recovery are higher. The partner, who never physically experienced a growing life in his belly or felt that life ripped away also experiences significant grief, but has the ability and distraction of getting right back into a routine. The woman is usually left to recover physically and emotionally by herself.
With a miscarriage, there is no formal ceremony that recognizes the loss and begins the healing process. The woman is left to mourn a dream gone, her future identity as a mother, and the extreme pain of disappointment. She often faces well-meaning individuals who point out the following:
“You can try again. You’re still young”
“At least it happened early in the pregnancy.
“You still have other children.”
“At least you know you can get pregnant.”
Maybe she can try for more children or already has them, but that doesn’t negate her current loss in this moment.
Suggested Read: What Not To Say To People Who Are Grieving
The grieving process takes time, but for some reason we expect women who have experienced a miscarriage to race through it at warp speed. We want them to ‘get back to normal’ as soon as possible and encourage them to ‘snap out of it’. It seems we have less patience for this type of loss. However, a loss is a loss regardless of the package it comes in. A miscarriage is also uniquely personal. The only person who had contact with the baby is the mother who carried it in her womb.
Having the sole responsibility for a life may also bring about feelings of guilt unaccompanied with other forms of loss. Even though it was nature taking its course, she may berate herself by questioning, “Did I somehow cause this? Should I have taken better care of myself? Did I rest enough?” or “Was I carrying around too much anxiety?” This silent questioning takes a toll, and can exacerbate feelings of sadness and depression.
4 Ways To Support A Woman Grieving A Miscarriage
It is important that we support these women through their grief.
1. Have the Conversation
We avoid asking about the miscarriage believing the grieving mother doesn’t want to talk about her loss. Talking about our disappointments, grief, and sadness fosters healing. Continue to encourage communication, but respect when space is needed.
Let your loved one express her feelings. It’s not necessary to find comforting words; there aren’t any. Your presence alone provides comfort. Reassure her that her feelings are normal and a necessary part of the healing process.
Suggested Read: The Power Of Listening: Supporting A Loved One Through Grief
3. Help Out
Bring a meal, pick up groceries, assist with childcare or even cleaning. The bereaved mother deserves time to process through her loss and recover physically.
4. Offer to Return Baby Items
This will relieve unnecessary stress and pain for the mother.
5. Send a Handwritten Note
Some women may choose to grieve privately, and that’s okay. Grief is personal to each of us, so if that’s the case, respect her wishes. Let her know you are there if needed, and send her a heartfelt note acknowledging her loss.
Suggested Read: The Importance of Writing a Handwritten Note