Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How To Help A Friend Who Has Had a Miscarriage

Next in the How To Help a Friend series: Lora Lynn from Vitafamiliae, who has five kids ages five and under and is going to Africa for more. Yes, she's one of those, I mean one of us. And, like far too many of you, she's also lost two babies. Welcome, Lora Lynn!

It happens to many women at some point or another.  The loss of a pregnancy, no matter how early, is a painful shock to us when our bodies fail to do something it’s been designed to do.  When it happens to a friend, here are some ways you can help.

  1. Obviously, if she has children, offer to keep them for a few days.  Whether your friend has to go to the hospital for a D & C or chooses to miscarry at home, she won’t feel up to caring for her children for a few days.
  2. If her husband can’t stay with her, make sure she’s not left completely alone.  Some women want to be by themselves.  But it’s comforting to know there’s someone in the next room in case she needs them or wants a distraction.  
  3. Take her a care package.  Some items to include:
  • Therma-Care heating pads (these are great for cramps)
  • Magazines (steer away from Parenting and go more for home decor and entertainment)
  • DVDs - Comedy only!!!  No weepy movies please.
  • Ice cream.  Duh.
  • A piece of jewelry or a sweet stuffed animal to commemorate the life she is mourning.
  • Nail polish.  Nothing cheers a girl like pretty toes.
  • A throw blanket.  I had a friend who brought me a blanket for every hospital stay.  Those are treasures to me now.  And they made my hospital bed so much cozier.
4 . Don’t forget the father.  When mommies are in mourning, it’s easy to forget that Dad is suffering from a loss, too.  Obviously, his primary concern is going to be for his wife, but there are ways to serve him, too.  Probably the best way to help is to take care of some of his normal chores so he can pick up the slack for his wife.  Find someone to mow the grass for a week or to get the oil changed in the car.  Cross something off his honey-do list.

Besides the practical ways to serve, there’s a few things that you should and shouldn’t say.
  1. Do not regale the mother with stories of people who miscarried only to get pregnant the next month.  There are many of these stories, but even those don’t always end well.  She is focused on her current loss. Let her mourn this first.
  2. If you’ve never had a miscarriage, do not express guilt that you haven’t experienced this, no matter how well-intentioned you are.  Nobody wants their friends to suffer what they suffer.  This will not make her feel better and it puts the focus on you.
  3. If you can empathize, give her a hug and say, “I know.”  Sit with her and just be sad together for awhile.  Sometimes we women don’t talk about these babies in heaven enough.  We start to feel like we’re the only one who has ever experienced that pain.  But it isn’t true.  This gestating thing, it unites us.  The good stuff and the bad.  Just like we should start talking about how painful breastfeeding can be in the beginning (why didn’t anybody WARN me?), we’ve got to talk about these miscarriages.  Suffering in silence doesn’t help anybody.  And it doesn’t properly honor our lost babies.
  4. Don’t be afraid to tell her good news, share something funny, or invite her to parties.  Certainly be sensitive to her grief.  Preface things with a question like, “Are you up for some happy thoughts?”  But don’t leave her out of things just because you don’t want to upset her.  And if you need to announce your own pregnancy after a friend’s recent miscarriage, tell your friend in private.  But tell her first.  She doesn’t want to be the last to know just because you didn’t want to upset her.  She needs to feel included.  
  5. If your friend has no other children, remember to send her Mother’s Day cards and treat her as a mother.  She was a mother, no matter how short.  Women never forget their babies, planned or unplanned, living or not.  Remember with her.  

And that’s probably the key.  When mamas grieve the babies they’ve lost, they don’t want to grieve alone.  And when they pick themselves up and move on, they don’t want to be the only one who remembers.  A good friend remembers.  She honors.  And she loves.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  Prov. 17:17

Lora Lynn is the mother to five children on earth, two in heaven, and one she hasn’t met yet in Uganda.  She writes at Vitafamiliae and runs HopeSuds to help fund adoptions.


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