If you strive to be a loving, supportive friend through every season of life, you can understand the importance of being there for your friends during their most difficult moments.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What You Can Do for a Friend Who Had a Miscarriage
- What You Should Not Do After a Friend Had a Miscarriage
One life event that happens all too often is miscarriage. Around twenty-six percent of all pregnancies result in miscarriage. This means at one point or another, a friend may need your support in navigating the grief and other emotions that come up.
Supporting someone who has experienced pregnancy loss isn’t always straightforward and different people will need different things. It’s helpful to have a guide as to do what to do for a friend who had a miscarriage, as well as some tips on what not to do - so that you can be the best friend you can be.
What You Can Do for a Friend Who Had a Miscarriage
As with any type of loss, there is no set formula for supporting a friend who had a miscarriage. Each person has different needs and ways of processing grief. The fact that you made it here means you are showing up for your friend, and that is huge.
Here are some things you can do to help them in this difficult time:
1. Acknowledge their loss
Oftentimes people who have experienced a miscarriage hesitate in reaching out for support. They may feel guilty, or like the loss wasn’t big enough to warrant the grief they’re feeling.
You can help give them space to grieve by acknowledging their loss and offering condolences for their miscarriage.
Let them know that it’s OK to grieve and that grief has no timeline. You are there for them whenever they need it. Just letting someone know that they are in your heart can help know that they are loved and supported.
2. Listen to them
Everyone processes miscarriages differently. Some may be able to get right back up and carry on with their lives, while others will go through an extensive period of grief. No matter what your friend’s journey looks like, the most important thing you can do is to listen to them. Listen to their thoughts, feelings, fears, and anything else that may come up.
There is no way to fix the situation and oftentimes they may not even need a response or answer. Sometimes people just need to be heard.
3. Mirror their language back to them
The language people use around miscarriage is their personal decision. Some people might want to stay away from saying ‘baby,’ ‘birth,’ or other pregnancy-related words, while others may be comfortable with them.
When navigating what to say to your grieving friend, listen to their language and mirror it back to them. You might not get it right, and that’s OK. Mirroring their language shows that you are truly listening and can adapt to their individual needs.
4. Reassure them
Miscarriages and pregnancy loss can come with a lot of guilt. Fertility can be such a touchy subject, and pregnancy comes with no certainties. The added strain of suffering a loss that is considered taboo to discuss can make your friend feel shame on a whole other level.
You may want to reassure your friend that they did nothing wrong. Help them remember that they are not a bad person or parent and that these things are out of their control.
Your friend may benefit from hearing other people’s miscarriage stories to help normalize the experience. Miscarriages are so common, yet they are not often talked about. There is healing in community and in knowing that they are not alone.
5. Send a gift or care package
You can help your friend commemorate their loss if appropriate by gifting them a miscarriage keepsake like a memorial blanket or personalized stuffed animal.
Help your friend get some extra nurturing during this difficult time by sending them a miscarriage care package full of self-care tools. Some great things to include are a bath bomb, comforting teas, homemade treats, a journal, and book on miscarriage and grief.
6. Send them flowers
Flowers have an incredible way of uplifting the spirit, showing someone they are cared for, and bringing glimpses of beauty to even the most difficult times. Any flowers will do, even the most simple hand-picked bouquet from your garden. Different flowers represent different things or have varied cultural significance.
If you’re wondering what flowers to give, any sort of baby funeral flowers like orchids or daffodils are also appropriate for a miscarriage. Orchids represent children and hope, while daffodils are a symbol of love and a source of strength.
7. Organize a meal train
Not only is your friend grieving from their loss, but they are also healing physically, and need extra support like any person in the postpartum period.
A great way to help take the stress of daily life off of them is by organizing a meal train. This can be done by coordinating with local friends and family who cook and bring meals over, or by collecting donations for an online meal delivery service.
8. Take initiative
It can be hard for people to ask for help, even when they need it most. What ways can you take initiative to help take a bit of stress off of them?
Without overstepping boundaries, are there everyday tasks and chores that you can take care of so that your friend can focus on healing? This could be as simple as washing dishes while you are over at their house, offering to walk their dog, or watching their children for a couple of hours so that they can rest.
Other ways you can take initiative are by:
- Tidying up around the house
- Making sure they have snacks and hydrating beverages on hand
- Watering their plants
- Offer to drive them to doctor’s appointments
The little things do add up, and these small efforts will be greatly appreciated.
9. Comfort them
Knowing how to comfort someone who had a miscarriage depends on the individual. Everything on this list offers comfort in one way or another. You know your friend, how can you tune into their needs? What do they normally do to get through difficult times?
They may want to talk about it, or they may want to be distracted. Some people are comforted by cracking jokes, while others want to read inspirational poems. Remember that hugs and a warm smile go a long way.
What You Should Not Do After a Friend Had a Miscarriage
Although miscarriages are so common, it can be difficult to know just how to support a friend who has had one. One of the biggest things that keep people from offering help is the fear that they will say or do the wrong thing.
Here are some tips on what not to do:
1. Critique or judge them
It’s not uncommon for people to blame themselves for a miscarriage. Don’t critique your friend’s behavior during their pregnancy or tell them what they could have done differently. Avoid judging and criticizing them for how they choose to manage and grieve their miscarriage. That is a personal decision.
Critiquing someone can make them feel guilty for their lost pregnancy in addition to the grief they are experiencing.
2. Don’t say “You can always get pregnant again.”
This can be incredibly triggering, and may not be true. People who have experienced multiple miscarriages or fertility issues may have layers of grief and frustration. They also may not want to become pregnant for whatever reason. Even if they do become pregnant again, this doesn’t erase the loss they experienced from a miscarriage.
Focus on what they are experiencing now, which could be any number of emotions, versus bringing up future fertility plans.
3. Don’t say “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
This saying is based on the idea of “whatever will be will be.” While this may have its place in some settings, it can be painful to say to someone who has experienced a miscarriage.
Even if they do believe in this philosophy it can be hurtful and triggering. If you don’t know the right thing to say, just let them know that you are there for them, and simply listen. Remember the importance of mirroring their language. If your friend does say this, it’s ok to go with the conversation, but avoid saying it if they don’t bring it up first.
4. Don’t discuss it publicly
If and when your friend decides to publicly talk about their miscarriage is up to them. Unless they explicitly ask you to do so, do not talk about it on social media or with other people unless you have your friend’s permission.
Avoid even talking about it in close friend groups unless you know with certainty that your friend is OK with that. Otherwise, you may risk overstepping boundaries and losing their trust. If you’re unsure, just ask them if they have discussed it with so and so.
Kind Things to Do For a Friend Who Had a Miscarriage
Miscarriages can be incredibly heartbreaking, and it makes such a difference to have a caring friend by their side while they’re grieving.
Consider using these tips and follow your intuition to help you decide the best things to do for your friend. When it comes down to it, your presence and support are some of the best things you can give them.
- Dugas, Carla, and Valori H Slane. “Miscarriage.” Stat Pearls Publishing, January 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532992/.