Giving Support and Comfort During a Miscarriage

Miscarriage is hard. It’s painful physically and emotionally.  It’s confusing and messy and can be temporarily debilitating.  It’s lonely.

Although it seems that nothing anyone does can alleviate the pain, there are ways to ease the burden of those suffering from miscarriage. Here are some ideas from my readers and my own experience.

Allow for grief. This is a baby we’re talking about!  Dismissing the event as “these things happen” undermines the intense emotions the couple may be facing.  It’s lonely to think you’re the only one who cares about your child.

Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Don’t avoid the parents or the topic.  The parents will guide the conversation; just be open to it.   It’s hard to know what to say, but saying something is better than saying nothing.

Unless you have suffered a miscarriage at nearly the same gestation, you do not “know exactly how you feel.” Please don’t say you do.

Send a card or small token of remembrance. Something with a birthstone for the baby’s due date is nice.

Offer specific help. What time can I pick up your kids for the day tomorrow?  When can I bring dinner tonight?  It’s difficult for anyone processing a miscarriage to think of those things, but they are much appreciated.  Most sufferers won’t ask.

When we miscarried at 11 weeks, we were blessed by my brother and sister-in-law who had been there, done that. She thought of things I never would have thought of!  They brought us supper that very evening that we had our sonogram, and on the phone she asked “What can I bring you?  Do you need anything?  Do you have enough pads?” Enough pads?!  Who thinks of that? I’m glad she did and that she brought me some, saving my husband from an uncomfortable emergency run to the store the next day.

Our other blessing came straight from our doctor.  He fit us in his busy schedule immediately after that sonogram and assured us that we did nothing wrong, to never doubt the existence of our baby, and that they (his office) would be praying for us.  A few days later we received a letter of sympathy and encouragement from him!  It was truly comforting to know our doctor cared.

No matter what you do or don’t do, say or don’t say, it may not feel right.  It certainly won’t remedy the situation.  That’s okay.  Do something anyway.

For more on miscarriage, visit Jen’s series:  Death Before Birth.

If you have other suggestions for support and comfort during miscarriage, please add them to the comments.

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Comments

  1. THANK YOU for this advice for those of us who have loved ones who have experienced such a loss. My sister-in-law recently had a miscarriage (unfortunately we would have both delivered around the same time) and I really did not know how to react. I didn’t react how you suggest, but I have learned from what you wrote.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve written. For me (when we miscarried at 8 weeks, then had a pre-term loss at 24 weeks) it was quite lonely. I didn’t know anyone else who had miscarried at that time – and people didn’t know what to say, so they stayed away – which made it even more lonelier. Another thing is to not forget that the husband may be grieving as well. The mother’s obviously have more of a connection with the baby as they were the ones carrying it and suffered the miscarriage, but the husbands often internalise their grief and suffer in silence.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I hope it opens others’ eyes to how difficult of a process it truly is and that there are things they can do to help. I had a miscarriage at 6 weeks with my first pregnancy 8 years ago and it was such a rough time. We lived far away from home and had just told everyone we were pregnant, mere days before I miscarried. I have to say this post brought it all up again though. The hurt from well meaning people saying the wrong things, was probably the hardest to deal with.

  4. It is really hard sometimes to know how to help others in this situation. I miscarried at around 5-6 weeks and we were so far away from home. We had only been missionaries for a few months and just moved to a different city after completing language school. I had to find a doctor and figure out how things worked. We were blessed to have missionary friend on the field with us who was a retired doctor. It was comforting to be able to ask him questions.

  5. Thank you for mentioning me and for doing the series. Awareness will hopefully lead to more understanding for those going through it and help for those wanting to help.
    Support is an amazing blessing for sure!

  6. A friend miscarried several years ago. I didn’t know what to do so I just called the day after I found out she was miscarrying and left a message on their home phone that I was thinking of them and praying for them. She thanked me later and said it meant so much. From talking with her later, she said two things she wished people would have refrained from saying were, “When are you going to try again?” or “You can have another one!”

  7. Yes, everyone, just saying “I’m so sorry” is so important. It may not seem like enough, but so many (or most!) people say nothing at all and that hurts too. I had a miscarriage in 2007; it had been going on for a few weeks, and finally my doctor, husband, and I decided I would have a d&c. The next day we flew across the country with our one year old daughter to attend my husband’s brother’s wedding. His whole side of the family was there, and only one sister-in-law said anything to me, which I will always credit her for. And that whole family is full of great people that I love; guess it just goes to show you how awkward and uncomfortable miscarriage makes people. Sadly, so many of us have had them, and yet we feel so all alone, at least I did. Acknowledging what has happened to someone who is suffering is truly a sign of friendship and support.

  8. I had a late miscarriage…19 weeks. I was devastated. And I could not have a D&C, so I had to wait for my body to miscarry naturally, ending with a “delivery”. It was so devastating…that is really the only word I can use to describe the experience. I cried all the time, and would wake up crying in the middle of the night crying for months later.

    Some words of advice I have (or common knowledge, as it seems to me it should be), but, if you have a friend that miscarried, DO NOT email details or ultrasound pictures of your healthy pregnancy any time soon. I had (had being the operative word here) a close girlfriend at the time that found out she was pregnant immediately after I miscarried. She proceeded to email me every detail, with pictures! Her sheer disregard for our feelings and heartache was most hurtful. When I finally mustered up the courage to swallow my anger and confront her about it, she saw nothing wrong in what she did, and she said she knew how it felt because she had had one, and to get over it…life goes on… and what kind of friend was I if I cannot be happy for her??!!
    As if that wasn’t enough, I chose not to attend another girlfriends baby shower (her first) the weekend after our loss. I couldn’t bear the thought of having to sit through hours of baby goodness and the excitement of someone elses new arrival when I had just lost mine. When I didn’t show, I got a nasty phone call from her as well, saying , again, what kind of friend was I that I missed her shower? She was there for mine, etc…!!! (Yes… she had known what happened!)
    So…In times of crisis, despair, heartache…you really find out who your true friends are. (Oh, and BTW…those “ladies” are no longer in my life!)
    My family was there for me…my sisters making meals, and surprising us with a meal deliveries from our favorite Italian restaurant…right down to a kids meal for my 19month old at the time. My husbands school was supportive as well, covering his classes for him and doing his lesson plans when all of this was transpiring. Even his football players families were sending home meals. That is what really helps…anything to make things easier on the family, so they can focus on getting rest, and getting on with the greiving process as well.

    • I’m so sorry. :( Can’t fathom miscarrying that late. It’s so hard no matter when it occurs, but that had to have been miserable. And having such inconsiderate “friends”… that’s just awful!

  9. Suzanne says:

    In a way I’m grateful for the experience I had when I miscarried before Christmas last year. It was horrible and painful and emotional (and still is). But, I have learned a lot. I feel I have much more compassion for those who have had/are having a miscarriage. Before I experienced it myself, I never knew what to do or how to help. Now I know.

    A couple of things that have NOT been helpful are when friends (!) have said “oh, well at least you were only 8 weeks along”. Yeah, as though that makes it any easier! I can imagine that it would be exceedingly more difficult the further along you become, but 8 weeks was devastating for me. I wanted that baby and was very excited to be pregnant. I wish that my friends had been more understanding and just said “I’m so sorry.”

    Another thing is that after a week or so everyone seemed to forget about my loss. In some ways I understand because it didn’t happen to them, it happened to me. It would just be nice to have someone ask how I’m doing 5 months later (and still no pregnancy).

    Some of the most wonderful things that people did were first, a friend (not even a close friend, mind you) offered to pick up my other two kids to take them for a play date. She did this several times over that week. It was very helpful for my kids to get to play (since I wasn’t in any position to play with them) and it gave me a break to cry. Also, my mother-in-law and my husband’s office sent a plant and some beautiful flowers with a kind note attached. That made me feel so loved. And I still have the plant in my living room and it reminds me that I am loved.

    I must say that I have tried to be patient with those around me. Especially if you haven’t suffered from losing a child then you have no way of knowing how it feels or how to show love to someone who has. Many people just don’t understand. I think it’s great to have a post such as this to help people know what to do to help. Thank you!

    • That’s part of the loneliness, when you’re still grieving (and rightly so!) and it seems that the rest of the world has forgotten. What a fantastic friend to entertain your kiddos during the turmoil.

  10. Mary Lynn says:

    I think it’s amazing that you touched on this, it is a very unmentioned thing about pregnancy unfortunately. I suffered 5 miscarriages before the premature birth of our son at 28 weeks and our daughter 3 years later at 26 weeks. I can’t tell you enough how horrible it was to hear “you’re young you can have more!”. We went through extensive testing for 2 years and were given the all clear and were told we would be able to have full term healthy babies. It’s all in God’s divine appointment and sometimes people don’t see that and speak before they think. It’s unfortunate that this topic even needs to be addressed like this but it does. Thanks again!

  11. I have miscarried 4 times, had 8 healthy babies and one born with a rare birth defect who lived 4 months. All babies are precious. I think you gave some great words of wisdom. I agree that just expressing your sorrow is best, along with a hug (if you are close). No “you can have another one, or what about all you already have”

  12. If you don’t know what to say, say that. An “I really don’t know what to say or do, but what do you need?” is so much better than not saying anything at all and just hoping it goes away. Also, realize that the pain lasts far longer than people say, “I’m sorry” or “What do you need?” Check back with your friend from time to time. Ask, “How are you?” Remember that it’s a HUGE loss… especially around the time the baby would have been due!

  13. My father-in-law sent a blanket, which came in very handy for all the time I spent on the couch in my PJs grieving. My mother-in-law sent pampering bath products, which incouraged me to take care of myself instead of hating my body.

    Offer to come to her house and box up any baby stuff to put in storage. It’s so hard to see baby gear/clothes/magazines around the house when there’s no baby to use them.

    If someone does concieve again after a miscarriage, be helpful and supportive then, too. I was horribly depressed the entire first trimester of my pregnancy following the miscarriage because I was terrified of losing another baby.

  14. When I had my first miscarriage, I faced a lot of platitudes from well meaning friends and family that frankly weren’t comforting: “You’ll get pregnant again.” “It was probably for the best.”

    One day, one of our neighbors said, “I’m sorry – that SUCKS,” and I finally felt like someone understood. No, it might not be the most socially acceptable phrase, but you know what? It did suck. It sucked the first time, the second time and the third time. It sucks every time the anniversary of one of my baby’s due dates rolls around.

    Great series, Amy — thanks for tackling these issues!

  15. Brittany says:

    God really had this post timed right! A friend from church just experienced a miscarriage, and I was telling DH last night that I wanted to help, but had no idea how. Your post has given me some ideas! Thank you!

  16. I think it’s so important to be senstive to the loss that the parents feel! I mean, no one would disagree with me on that, but sometimes people are so anxious to say something to make you feel better, that they’re not thinking AT ALL about what is actually coming out of their mouths. My cousin had her twin boys at 27 weeks. Ethan died 3 weeks later. The thing to NOT say is “Oh, well, they were sooooooooo early…” or my Mom, who meant well, but told my uncle “Maybe this is God’s way of bringing you and your daughter together again.” (They’d been estranged.) My sister-friend tried in vitro twice. First time, not enough eggs; the second time, the embryos didn’t implant. I imagine that that must have felt like a miscarraige to her- they were so close, weren’t they? They had what would have been their babies… She got a lot of “You’re just trying too hard… Relax and it will happen.” When they decided to adopt, the advice became, “Oh, you’ll adopt and then get pregnant.” As of the adoption is only a precursor to their “real” child? Now they are bringing their daughter home from China one short month from now. They carry a photo album EVERYWHERE. At a BBQ, the hosts’ mother asked to see her pictures, saying “I’m just so glad I could have my own.” !!!!!!!!!!!! The follower above said it best: if it is a grieving occasion, “I’m sorry, that sucks,” or “I don’t know what to say, but I care about you,” is appropriate. If it is a happy occasion, like an adoption, then be happy for them! There is no room in that story for grief!

  17. I really like the part where you said, “Do something anyway.” When tragedy hit, it’s so easy to just think, “I don’t know what to say or what to do. I don’t want to offend.” But – really – any kind ACTION is a good thing. Thank you for that reminder.

  18. Such wonderful advice! I linked to this on my weekly roundup – thanks so much for this series, Amy!

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