When I lost my first baby we hadn't told anyone we were expecting until I started having problems. It was lonely and difficult to recover when most of our friends and family had no idea what we had been through. I took me months to feel whole and human again, and I think not having my people to help me in those early, painful moments of loss made a huge difference in my overall recovery.
In my following pregnancies we made the decision to tell those closest to us early on - so they could encourage us on hard days when doubt and fear were strong, but also so we would have an immediate support system in case the pregnancy didn't go well. This made a huge difference in the way I processed my other losses and in my grief overall.
My tribe is amazing. They loved me through each loss and prayed for healthy miracle babies as fervently as I did. Whether you have recently lost a baby and are trying to figure our how your support system can help, or you are walking through the painful process with someone, here are five things you can do that show support to someone who has lost a baby:
- Ask questions. We are so afraid of offending or creating hurt that we often stay silent. It is uncomfortable to enter into someone else's pain - but it is so necessary for the healing process. So ask simple questions like "How can I help you as you process the loss of your baby?" and "How are you feeling about your miscarriage today?" or "How are you handling everything with the baby?". Authentic friendship pushes past the boundary of what is comforable to walk the hard roads of life with one another.
- Listen. If your friend/family member says they would rather not talk about it, then respect their decision. Every person processes loss differently, and many of us don't know what we need until we are in the moment. Let them know you are a safe person to ask for help or space as needed. If your friend/family member needs to talk and share the hard, gut wrenching truth, then allow them to do so. I can't think of one person in my life who tried to fix my situation or give me steps to follow - but I recall at least a dozen women who sat with me, cried with me and let me be honest about my feelings - it was balm to a wounded soul.
- Remember the month of their due date. One of the strange things about grief is that it keeps track of time that you wish you could forget. You can't help but count how many weeks pregnant you would be, or how old your baby would be. The month of the due date was always very difficult for me, and has been for many of the women I have spoken to. Put a reminder in your calendar to go off in the month of your friend's due date, and do something special for them. It could be a phone call where you simply say "I know this is your due date month and I'm thinking of you", or it could be a card, coffee, a gift, whatever you know your friend would appreciate. I promise you that this gesture will be so encouraging to your friend - to know that you see and understand that just because the event of loss has passed, it doesn't mean the grief is over.
- Be sensitive. I know this seems like common sense, but sometimes people unintentionally act in ways that are percieved as insensitive. Simple things like a friend's baby announcement, celebrity pregnancies, a baby shower, and holidays can be extra hard days for someone grieving the loss of a baby.
- Pray for them. You may or may not be a praying person, but this is one of the things that was such a blessing to me. Both friends, and friends of friends prayed for me in each season of grief and I could literally feel the difference. It was also special for them to share in the joy of my healthy pregnancies because they had been a part of the ones I had lost. You may not have words for them personally, but asking God to give them hope and healing is so powerful, and was always something I appreciated.
I hope this helps you, or someone in your life as you process the loss of a baby. I'm so thankful for those who did these things for me, and I hope to be the same kind of friend for those in my life who experience loss as well.