So I have done a lot of thinking as to why pregnancy loss is something that is so hidden away in the darkness. One (of many conclusions) I have created is that because it’s such a delicate, emotional experience, people have a difficult time responding supportively to it. When you believe deep inside that nothing you can do or say can make a situation better, there is a HUGE chance that something awkward, inappropriate, or unrelated will naturally come out of your mouth.
If we are being honest, we have all been guilty of having something awkward, inappropriate or unrelated come out of our mouths at one point or another in our lives. We just need to change our way of thinking about difficult situations. Instead of thinking that you can’t say or do anything to help the situation, believe that you are able to make a difference- even if it’s only for a millisecond. Here are 5 ways you CAN be supportive and helpful to someone who is dealing with pregnancy loss:
1. Acknowledge the loss.
There is no reason for the loss of a precious baby to be the “elephant in the room,” if you will. Although it may be slightly uncomfortable or awkward, acknowledge the fact that you are aware of what your friend is going through and most importantly, acknowledge the baby. You can easily do this by offering your condolences by saying something like “I’m so sorry for your loss,” or “I am so sorry to hear about what you have faced and are going through.” Just something simple and genuine. Always read your friend’s body language and take his/her lead in this conversation; use similar language to what he/she is using, always staying positive and offering simple sayings to remind him/her that it wasn’t their fault. When you are acknowledging the loss, it shows that you care and that you are there for him/her.
2. Do Something.
Something that really helped my personal healing process was the overwhelming reminder of who loves and cares about my husband and I. We got cards from friends and family to remind us how much they loved us, that they were thinking about us, and that when we were ready, they were there for us to lean on. Those I will keep forever. Some of my friends sent me the sweetest gifts (essential oils, fertility tea, chocolate, wine, junk food…etc), and other friends were coming over to visit and just sit with me. I honestly felt like I had the best life at the worst time in my life because of that support. Friends and family would invite us over for a quiet night in, come over themselves for a quiet night in, or plan a fun night out, even just for dinner. Although a person who is grieving may not be ready to face the outside world, give them time and plan around their needs. Don’t be silent. Don’t avoid the situation. Be there. Do something.
Through this healing process there are good days, okay days, bad days, and really bad days. It was always nice when someone check in on me during any of those days. Whether it was a call, text, or surprise visit, it always felt great to know someone was thinking and caring about my well being. Questions like “How are you doing TODAY?” and “How is your day going?” were the questions I loved hearing. I never was able to talk much about it, but I loved the fact that people were checking-in. It means the world during this time.
If and when that person is ready to talk, just listen. Sometimes there’s no need to verbally respond, especially by giving advice. This is not the time for advice and to make their grieving experience about your (or a friend’s cousin’s grandmother’s) experience. Don’t try to change their mind about things, not now; simply let them get their thoughts and emotions out to someone they love and trust. Non-verbal communication goes a long way at this point. Lot’s of nodding, eye contact, a simple touch, a hug…all of that is appreciated when you just need someone to listen.
5. Be Understanding (even when you don’t understand).
From the changing hormones, physical healing process, and grieving, emotions are all over the place. If your texts/calls are getting ignored, if your invites are getting declined, and if you’re on the receiving end of snippy comments, short answers, and bad moods…don’t take it personally. Instead, feel honored that your friend is able to feel and is somewhat taking it out on you. Be understanding of the situation and don’t stop being a friend. Everyone handles a flood of emotions and life changes differently. Please, just be understanding and forgiving.