Because miscarriage is so incredibly common, chances are high that you either know someone who has had one or you have had one yourself. I’d like to share a few practical ways God used others to be an encouragement to me when He called me and Isaac to walk this path ourselves, almost five years ago now. While there are many, many ways to do this, I have limited this list to the specific things that I personally experienced. Hopefully some of these ways can help you know how to better interact with and comfort a friend who has had a miscarriage.
1. Say something
We’ve all had those thoughts of “I don’t really know what to say” when someone we know is grieving the loss of a loved one; the temptation to just not say anything is great. When it is a miscarriage, the temptation to not say anything is even greater. For some mysterious reason, the situation just seems incredibly awkward and tricky and we don’t want to make things more difficult than they are. So “mums the word” often becomes the default course of action.
However, I am learning that we tend to over-analyse the need to have the perfect words of encouragement to say to a friend who has miscarried. Because of this tendency, we then fail to take advantage of an opportunity to show our love and care for her.
When a friend loses a little one, the glaring need at hand is not to be the one to speak the words that will somehow magically ease all pain. Rather, more often than not, we need to extend intentional encouragement and comfort by simply being there for her. In many cases, this action comes in the form of saying something…anything. In fact, it’s ok to stumble with the words, perhaps even as they come out of your mouth. It’s ok to be honest that you don’t really understanding what they’re going through. It’s ok to keep it simple. It’s even ok to say “I don’t really know what to say.”
But please say something.
Yes, it might be awkward, but please, say something. Even the words “I don’t know what to say” can be some of the sweetest words to the ears of one who has lost a baby—that baby who was fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s sight, even in its most undeveloped and unperfected state. Even if it has been months or years since your friend has miscarried, it isn’t too late to express your care for them and acknowledge that the baby’s life mattered.
Saying something is one of the most significant, yet simple, ways to do that.
2. Be willing to just listen
This one comes on the heels of my previous point. For some reason, the topic of miscarriage is kind of hush-hush. No one talks about it…at least not very openly. While there may be many reasons for this, I don’t believe it is because people don’t care. Instead, I think it is mostly because people just don’t know how to react to a miscarriage: they don’t know if the mom wants to talk about it, if it will make her cry, or even if it is too personal of a topic to bring up.
However, I don’t think it is too broad of a generalization to say that most of us who have gone through a miscarriage do want to talk about it. Yes, there probably will be tears, even if it happened years ago. Yes, it is an intensely personal subject. But we want to talk about the precious life (or lives) that changed our lives forever.
The day after our miscarriage, one friend asked if she could come over and just be with me, since I was home alone for the day. She brought something hot for us to drink, and then we sat on the couch and just hung out for the afternoon. It was a simple action, but it still means the world to me that she was willing to give of her time to sit with me during those lonely hours immediately following our miscarriage.
Another friend, despite having her own burden that God has called her to bear, wasn’t afraid to ask me, even months later, how I was doing with it all. In so doing, she provided me with rare opportunities to talk about it. And then she listened while I talked. She was such an amazing blessing from God.
Don’t be afraid to be the one to bring up the subject.
3. Pray and send a card
If you don’t live nearby, do something to express that you care: send a note, a card, a text, a special song, some flowers, or even a care box filled with some special dark chocolate. Even if the person isn’t a particularly close friend, if you feel led to do something, don’t hesitate to act: small actions communicate a lot!
When we miscarried, we received numerous cards from people we had met maybe once before, but who wanted us to know that they were praying for us. Several years later, I came across that small stack of cards that had been stashed away in a drawer. As I read them all over again, I was once again reminded of the very specific way God poured out grace, strength, and comfort on our hearts through those cards.
4. Remember dates
There can be multiple days that stand out in a mom’s mind when she thinks of her miscarriage: the date of the actual miscarriage, the due-date, or the day she took that positive pregnancy test, to name a few. For the grieving mom, sometimes these dates are commemorated on a yearly or monthly basis. Sometimes even a particular day of the week could be hard. Each mom is different in how she handles these days.
Take some time to find out what days and dates might be hard for your friend and then remember them. As those days come around on the calendar, take a minute to let your friend know you’re thinking of her. Send a text or give her a hug the next time you see her. These are small actions that can speak volumes.
5. Be an encouragement when there’s a new pregnancy
Finding out that we were pregnant again was one of most exciting things ever: we’re going to have a baby!
But I distinctly remember one day at work soon after we found out. I was terrified—absolutely terrified–that it would happen again. I began to panic. I had to share this burden with someone.
And I had to do it now.
I hid in the bathroom for a few minutes of privacy and pounded out a desperate text to a friend, telling her that we were expecting and then begging her to pray that God would give me a peace and a quiet trust in Him, despite my fear that the worst would again happen. It was a subtle yet certain comfort to know that not only was she rejoicing with me with the news, but she was also praying.
A new pregnancy is an incredible roller-coaster ride of emotions for the mom–emotions about the past pregnancy, emotions about the new pregnancy, emotions about so many what-could-have-beens, emotions about so many what-might-yet-bes.
Let your friend know that you’re rejoicing with her, but that you haven’t forgotten about the past.
Pray for your friend. Pray for the life of the new little one. Pray for a confidence in God’s sovereignty and goodness, no matter what. Pray for a peace that surpasses all understanding. And pray that the Lord would deem it to be a good gift to grant your friend the gift of holding her baby, alive and healthy.
During this month of remembering pregnancy and infant loss, let us be intentional about reaching out to those moms around us who have lost precious little ones. May we be the hands and feet of God’s love and comfort to them.