Its always a little hard to know what to say to a woman when she’s had a miscarriage.
The volatile mixture of sorrow, loss and hormones can make you feel like you’re wandering into a field of land mines, and one wrong move could just blow the whole thing to kingdom come.
But it’s not as risky as it seems.
And a woman recovering from a miscarriage isn’t as hair-triggered as you may think.
I’ve had 4.
6 months after my husband and I married – right on schedule – we found out we were expecting our first. But at 10 weeks we discovered our baby had no heart beat. It had been that way for likely a month or so.
It’s called a missed miscarriage.
6 months after that we said a tearful goodbye to angel baby #2.
The pregnancy hadn’t been met with joy. I was too terrified to be excited. Call it a premonition, woman’s intuition, or whatever term you can come up with; but somehow I knew it would end badly. And it did. I didn’t tell many people, I didn’t know how to talk about it. And yet, I needed the support of my friends. I just didn’t know how to reach out. I felt like a failure as a woman – a failure in being able to do what a normal woman should be able to do: bear and deliver children.
However, 15 months later we welcomed our first born and his brother followed 21 months later.
We were overjoyed with our little family and so thankful to the Lord for healing my body and giving us two babies to hold and love. They are our pride and joy and I can’t imagine our lives without them. I don’t even want to try!
For some unexplained reason, my third miscarriage hit me much harder than the first two. And that’s saying a lot. I only shared it with a couple of people.
I don’t know why. Maybe it was because I’d already had two, so it didn’t seem like big news. But the comfort I needed from friends wasn’t there.
I felt like I was walking through the shadow of death all alone.
I couldn’t process alone, and I didn’t feel like I had anyone with me to help me process the excruciating pain I felt, so I buried it and drowned out it’s voice with a lot of noise and activity…
…until my fourth one a year later.
When my fourth miscarriage occurred I knew it was sink or swim. I couldn’t just coast along like I had with my third. I knew I had to open up and talk, because there was no room left to bury it.
I was so full of pain that I knew trying to stuff this would would burst the dam and only the Lord knows what could have resulted from that.
Curiously enough, besides my mom, the ones who reached out to me were women I’d met online.
Emailing me daily to check up on me, to make sure I was okay; letting me know they were praying for me – I knew I wasn’t alone.
I think that helped me to cope and enabled me to process the pain through the post I wrote about pain.
There were three things that helped me the fourth time to walk the path I didn’t have the strength travel before.
Here are three ways to respond when your friend has had an early miscarriage.
1. Be there. Just be there. You don’t have to say anything profound. Actually, her heart may not be ready yet to listen to profound statements. There will be time for that, but right now she just needs to know that someone cares.
You see, if she’s had an early miscarriage – like all of mine – there will be voices (some in her head, and some from others around her) that will tell her that her loss is less significant because she hadn’t seen, heard or felt her baby yet. She battles with the intense loss she feels even though she was only several weeks along.
Because the moment a woman knows she’s expecting, an incredible and miraculous bonding occurs in her heart. A forever bond that not even the loss of her baby can take away.
But when silence occurs from those close to her it either communicates that her pain is insignificant to them, or her loss is somehow less important because her pregnancy was so early.
Simply checking in daily to let her know you’re praying for her, or asking her how she is doing is a reminder to her that you’re there, you care, and you recognize that her pain is real and validated.
2. Listen. Just listen. She may rant and say things she really doesn’t mean. She will likely be angry, and her anger may not even be rational. But she needs an outlet to rid her heart of the intense pain she feels.
If you truly want to be the friend she needs, just listen. Let her pour it all out and then when she’s done, let her know that you hear her, you understand that her loss is deep and painful. And that it’s okay to vent.
You may not understand what she’s facing, you may not even understand why she’s so angry. But it is part of the healing process; and your prayers and presence in her life will help her navigate the stormy waters she’s in.
3. Avoid trite statements. One of the least helpful things a friend can do during this time is respond with a trite statement.
It must have been God’s will. I don’t believe this kind of loss is really ever God’s will. When you read the Bible, you see that God’s blessing is always accompanied by a fruitful womb and an absence of pregnancy loss. I believe God can use these circumstances for His glory, but chalking up a painful loss as this to God’s will smacks more of fatalism and not true faith in His goodness in our lives.
Your baby must have had a disability that would have prevented it from living anyway. Why anyone believes this could be comforting is beyond me. Because personally, this caused an even greater fear in my heart that there must be something genetically wrong with either my husband or me to have resulted in such a horrible disability in my child so as to have caused such an early loss.
It was so early, at least you hadn’t felt it move yet. That would have been a much more painful loss. This comment almost completely invalidates her pain and loss. It really doesn’t matter if a woman lost a pregnancy at 6 weeks or 20 weeks; her loss is real and her pain intense. The bond she felt with her baby was as real as with any other child.
Don’t be so sad. You’ll have another one. The painful fact is that this isn’t a fact. No woman is promised that she will ever have a child to hold in her arms. The truth is that with each subsequent miscarriage, the chance that a woman will be able to carry a child to term are lessened. After the 4th miscarriage a woman’s chance to carry a child to term continues to significantly decline.
Why are you so sad? You already have children to love. You need to be content with the children you have. When a woman loses a child, even to early miscarriage, it doesn’t matter if she already has one child or six children; her loss is profound and deep. Does this mean that she isn’t content with the children she has? No, it doesn’t mean that at all. A woman doesn’t get pregnant because she’s discontent with the number of children she has. That is an insulting idea. A woman longs for more children because God created her to with the desire for children.
She may at some point choose to stop trying for more children, but there will always be a longing in her heart to have one more. Why? Because God created her for motherhood. For nurturing.
As I reflect this month of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness on my journey, it is with a mixture of emotion. Naturally, I keenly remember each loss. My four angel babies hold a very special place in my heart and always will.
I also feel a special affection for those who reached out to me after my last miscarriage. I will never forget them and their kindness to me; daily checking in with me to make sure I was okay. Offering a listening ear.
My heart goes out to those who feel abandoned and alone in their pain, as I did after my second and third losses. I pray no woman ever has to face that loneliness and isolation.
Because we were made for community. We are called to support one another in times of need. We are told to cry with those who cry, to help bear their pain and burden. And there is no greater way we can help to bear the burden of loss than to just be there, listen, and not invalidate the pain with trite words that communicate our dismissal of their loss.
- Rosilind, a Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her hero. Together they live in the country with their 2 active boys where she enjoys fruity candles and a hot cup of herbal tea on a blustery fall evening. She holds an Associates of Practical Theology and is passionate about discipling and encouraging women. Her passion for writing led her to author a number of books. She is the author of A Little R & R where she encourages women to find contentment in what God created them to be. She can also be found at these other places on a regular basis. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.