Chances are that you’ve met a mother who has experienced the grief of miscarriage. As many as 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, including me. It is all around us. Yet despite its high frequency of occurrence, people often have no idea how to respond or help a mother after miscarriage. Here are some tips to support a mother after miscarriage that I hope you can apply and share with others.
Let Her Grieve
Perhaps the biggest thing I can say is let her grieve. Just because the baby was early in pregnancy and formation does not mean that her pain and grief is any less real. To those observing from the outside, the expectation, excitement, and love was largely invisible, which makes the subsequent pain and heartbreak also invisible. But it is real. It is deep.
Some mothers may want to pick up the pieces and try to move on quickly. And if that’s how they wish to do it, then that is okay. For other mothers, it may be a longer process to get back on their feet. And that is okay too. The point is to let the mother grieve in her own way, and to let her know that it is natural to do so. Do not minimize her grief. This is the very best way to support a mother after miscarriage.
There is some misconception that a miscarriage doesn’t take a toll on the body. Mothers don’t usually stay at a hospital to rest or get any time off from work. But speaking from experience, the recovery from my miscarriage at 9.5weeks gestation was far worse than the recovery from either of my sons’ full-term births. (My daughter’s birth was harder than my miscarriage, but that’s another story.) It is painful and exhausting with completely imbalanced hormones. On top of this, while after pregnancy a mother has a precious baby to hold in her arms to soften the pain, with a miscarriage the pain is only a reminder of the devastating loss she has experienced.
So offer to keep her company if she desires it. Offer to watch her other children is she needs time to grieve and rest. Volunteer to clean her house. Bring a meal. Treat her as if she just had a baby; the only difference is that her baby isn’t with her anymore. It is really hard for me to watch people not support a mother after miscarriage when her grief and pain is so misunderstood.
Check In As Time Passes
The grief doesn’t fade quickly. Holidays and dates still bring back tidal waves of pain. The due date passing as a simple date on the calendar that no one else notices, because the baby is in heaven. The first Christmas passing without the sweet Christmas photos of the little one. Friends and family members announcing pregnancies and celebrating births. Each one is a date for a mother suffering loss to try and put a brave face on, while internally she may be shattered and struggling. The timeline to support a mother after miscarriage is not short.
Check in and ask how she is doing – 2 months later. 6 months later. 1 year later. Even 5 years later. Grief changes. While the pain might not be as intense at 6 months, it may be gut wrenching hard at 1 year.
Act Like Her Baby Was Real
Just because you never saw the baby doesn’t make that baby less real. The baby was real. If the parents chose to name the baby, then use the baby’s name. If the baby did not have a name, then still refer to it as a baby. Do not ignore it or try to lessen its value.
Ask Her What She Needs and Be There
Do not assume. She may need something completely different than what I wrote here. Every mother processes grief and pain differently. The most important aspect of miscarriage support is that you don’t ignore the loss, and you support her in a way that she needs. So ask her. Let her know you are there for her if she needs to talk, cry, or be silent, or needs a hand with day to day life for a while. Bring her emotional support items. The loss is real and the grief is real. But the journey to recovery will be different. We simply need to be the friends that will walk that path with her. If you have any questions on supporting someone after miscarriage, or if you are dealing with a loss yourself, please feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to talk.