Miscarriage is a tough subject to talk about, yet it is a common occurrence.
According to statistics, 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage. That’s not a small number. And while not every couple experiences the same emotions afterward, many feel isolated and are unable to share their grief.
If you have a friend or relative who has suffered a miscarriage, you may not know how to act around them. Here are some things to do — and avoid — in this situation.
Let them know they’re not alone.
Many people who miscarry experience disenfranchised (or hidden) grief. This occurs when a death or loss isn’t acknowledged or properly grieved. Sometimes people who miscarry wonder if it’s socially acceptable to grieve publically or feel sad, especially if they lost the child at an early stage.
Because disenfranchised grief can cause the mother to hide her pain, it’s important to let her know she’s not alone. Tell her you’re sorry for her loss and you’re available to be a listening ear. Offer any assistance you can and give her the time and space to grieve.
However well-intentioned, don’t force anything on her. Be present, but understand that some people need time to themselves before they’re ready to talk to someone.
Don’t forget the father.
It’s natural to focus on the mother. After all, the child was in her body and she may be dealing with physical and emotional challenges.
But miscarriages affect fathers too. They don’t always grieve as soon as the mother — some may take a year or so to start processing the pain — or in the same ways, but they can feel the loss of their child and carry the wound in their heart.
Make sure you acknowledge the father as well as the mother when you give your condolences and offer to be present for him.
Don’t judge the parents for feeling a sense of relief.
You may know parents who seem unaffected or even relieved by a miscarriage. It can be easy to think they’re heartless for feeling this way.
Actually, such reactions aren’t uncommon, even among pro-life parents. To be clear, this relief rarely comes from the actual death of the child. It’s more likely tied to serious financial or emotional concerns about having another child. At the same time, the parents may feel guilty about their relief. But miscarriages cause a complex web of emotions.
Be aware of this and don’t judge the parents.
It can be tough to discern when to offer your help or comfort to someone who has miscarried a child. But keep these things in mind and pray to God for wisdom. You may be the one who helps the grieving parents open up and begin the journey of healing.