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How to support a friend who has a miscarriage

Posted November 11

If you lose your parents, you’re an orphan. If you lose your spouse, you’re a widow. There are no words to describe the loss of a child.

It’s one of the deepest pains anyone can feel, no matter the child’s age. Even in circumstances when the child wasn’t born, the pain of what could have been is difficult to get through.

If you have a friend who has suffered a miscarriage, it’s normal to feel helpless. However, avoiding the subject can make it worse. Your support won't take away your friend's pain, but you can provide comfort.

Parents who experience a miscarriage usually turn to immediate family, close friends or religious leaders for support. If your loved one needs you, even if you're nervous, you can be a source of great support with a bit of knowledge and sensitivity.

What you shouldn’t say

There are a lot of things you shouldn’t say when someone is grieving. When it comes to a person that’s miscarried, here are some words that shouldn’t ever come out of your mouth:

“It’s not like you lost a real baby.”

There’s a lot of planning that usually goes into preparing for a pregnancy. People think of job security, finances, family, and friends before making such an important decision.

By the time they get a positive result on a pregnancy test, they've already heavily invested in the child. No matter how far along the pregnancy, it’s a huge loss, both physically and emotionally.

“You must have been stressed. You should have relaxed more.”

If this doesn’t sound like casting blame on a parent, I don’t know what does. Avoid saying anything that can be interpreted as blame. There’s a belief that pregnant women should take it easy, and you can be sure the woman was aware of that. In fact, she’s probably reexamining every moment prior to the loss of her child.

Don’t add to it, and make her feel worse.

“Don’t worry, you can get pregnant again.”

Although this might be true and could even feel like a silver lining, you have no idea what potential parents went through to get pregnant. Further, you’re also treading into dangerous ground, where you can make a pregnancy sound trivial.

Depending on how much time has passed, they may not be ready to hear about a silver lining. Although you might have the best intentions, your words can be the opposite of comforting.

What you should say and do

Be prepared to listen, as they might want to talk and tell you their side of the story. Remember your gestures, eye contact and attentiveness are important.

Know when to be silent but, if they want to hear from you, be ready to talk about the baby.

Encourage the parents to express their pain and sadness and help them work through feelings such as doubt, anger, frustration and guilt.

Be aware that there might be persistent fears and nightmares during this time of sorrow. A parent's reaction to the pain is normal and necessary to heal.

There’s no mourning timeframe, so encourage communication, and let them know you’re there for them whenever they need you.

Asma Rehman is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. If you're struggling in life, the <a href='http://www.griefrecoveryhouston.com' target='_blank'>Grief Recovery Center in Houston,</a> is dedicated to helping yo

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