By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Miscarriage is a silent loss for many women, couples, and families. Too many of us have endured the heartache of a potential someone not coming to be. Very few of us know how to talk about it.
Just like any difficulty, the wrong words can sting deeply while the right ones can offer hope in a hard moment. What are some of those “right” words for ones enduring this sadness? Here are some ideas for you:
1. Offer Support Rather Than Answers
When we go through loss the last thing the suffering person wants to hear about is the “reasons why” they might be enduring this heartbreaking turn of events. Let’s be honest; none of us have all the answers as to why our world suffers in the ways it does.
Thankfully, we have the Bible to turn to as hope in tragedy but only God can reveal His purpose and plan in His own timing and way to make sense of the broken spaces of our lives.
What you should offer is support. Ask how you can help. Be willing to listen and if nothing else just say you’re sorry that they are going through this.
Most of us just need our pain acknowledged to feel supported.
After two perfect boys my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our third. We joyfully and eagerly called our family at 9 PM the night we found out we were expecting while I was only about 4 weeks along.
We were thrilled and took for granted that this baby would make it into the world. We spilled the beans to our small group, close friends; basically anyone who would listen.
Then a few weeks later I started to have worrisome symptoms. I went into the doctor right away and even though there was a beating heart it was obvious this heart wasn’t going to make it into the world as a whole being.
I miscarried and my husband and I were heartbroken. For me I didn’t need much practical help but I did need support. That same weekend our close friends and family gave us hugs and said sorry as we celebrated my sons 2nd birthday.
This was the exact right support I needed at that moment. They were willing to celebrate and grieve with me all at the same time.
2. Or... Skip the Words and Offer a Gift Instead
Sometimes the right words just don’t exist. When we are going through loss, a show of love from our community is really what we need most. Why not go out of your way to bring a gift to the one experiencing this loss?
When we suffered our miscarriage, I had one friend bring me a beautiful lily plant. It gave me a focal point of hope as I endured the pain of my child leaving my body.
I knew that if God was faithful to create this beautiful plant and sustain its life, he would take care of me. No words necessary, the plants story was all I needed.
Another friend brought me a sweet sign for our house that says “choose joy.” She said she saw it at the store that day and knew it was for me.
She could have gone on and preached to me about God’s call towards joy in every circumstance but thankfully she didn’t. This simple gesture was a kind and simple reminder of the ideals that I rely on.
I didn’t need a lecture. I needed that show of love and gentle nudge back to God who promises to take care of me even when I experience sadness.
Gifts both speak and show our affection during the times that words may fall short.
3. Don’t Minimize the Feelings of Grief Parents May Endure
Most women who miscarry do so very early on in their pregnancy. Often times there may be no physical sign of a baby for the outside world to witness but chances are that Momma felt and knew that baby was growing for weeks, if not longer.
For me I felt the immediate joy of knowing a life was going to join our family. Right away the standard pregnancy symptoms rushed in: fatigue, nausea, cravings, and weight gain. For over almost a month I had given my heart to this soon-coming human.
When I realized I wouldn’t meet this person, I experienced real sadness and guilt. I had done a hard workout earlier the day my symptoms started and felt like somehow it was my fault. I felt silly for so boldly telling our friends and family, like we should have known something like this might happen.
Every story is different and the emotions each person processes is going to be different, but everyone deserves the time and space to work through what they are feeling.
As I walked out of the doctor’s office that sad day the midwife made a careless joke about the loss of my baby. I think she was trying to lighten the mood, but I never returned to her practice. She surely missed the weight of the moment for me.
I needed a hug, not a thoughtless joke about precious lives. Don’t make her mistake, show compassion rather than insensitivity.
4. Offer a Listening Ear
If you’ve ever been around a group of Mommas and one starts sharing a birth story. You know that soon the whole group will start chiming in sharing their battle story too! We process life’s ups and downs by talking about them.
Allow the Mom who has miscarried to share with you what she has gone through. Don’t rush along her words in order to insert your thoughts, just be willing to hear her out. Our loads get lighter when others offer us the space to freely share how we are feeling.
5. Help with Practical Tasks
When life knocks you down, getting through a day’s practical tasks can be hard. Things like cooking, cleaning, childcare, or work can be hard to accomplish. If you are able to, step in and offer a hand.
My boss gave us a gift card to a restaurant, which helped lighten the load for me significantly. I wasn’t able to stop mothering my kids or tending to our home but not having to plan and make dinner just made things a little easier for me.
If you are unsure what will be helpful, then all you need to do is ask. If they aren’t sure what they need then offer a few choices and let them choose what seems most helpful to them.
6. Understand They May Need Some Time to “Try Again”
Everyone is going to have a different response after experiencing a miscarriage. Some may be ready to move ahead right away and keep trying for a viable pregnancy. Others may need some time to heal before they are ready to put their body and heart on the line again.
Experiencing a miscarriage is a real loss. No matter if you’re ready to jump right into “trying again” or take some time, if you’ve gone through a miscarriage, you are likely to be much more cautious about subsequent pregnancies.
You realize how fragile that growing baby is.
We were fortunate to get pregnant again with my daughter, but I approached my pregnancy with a lot more care than I had with the other ones. We didn’t share the news until after 13 weeks, once we had an ultrasound and saw a growing baby inside.
All the way until she was born, I was much more concerned about counting kicks, only engaging in more gentle exercise, and avoiding all the things they warn you of when you’re pregnant.
I am forever thankful I have a healthy daughter, but for others they have to go through the loss of miscarriage over and over. This is a devastating burden to carry.
Those who have endured this sadness may not be up for “trying again” under any circumstances. Pregnancy loss is traumatic. Understanding that pregnancy may not be a viable way to grow a family for these people is important.
You add insult to injury when you don’t offer compassion when breaching the topic of pregnancy for those have endured such losses.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that there is time for everything. There is a time to mourn with others and times to dance together in joy.
When those around you endure loss it’s your time to be there as they mourn and when God blesses them with the next steps, dance with joy.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes about all things motherhood for Richmond Macaroni Kid, creates devotions for Daily Bible Devotions App, she has work published with Her View from Home, is contributing to a couples devotional for Crosswalk, and is a regular contributor for the marriage/family/homeschool/parenting channels on Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda at rvahouseofjoy.com or follow her on Instagram at rvahouseofjoy.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/DiegoCervo