Until this year, I had never experienced a miscarriage firsthand. Prior to walking through it myself, I remember wanting so badly to be there for my friends who were mourning, but being unsure of how to approach them. I stumbled through conversations, never knowing what the “right thing” was to do or say. I read the commonly reposted articles on what you absolutely should NOT to say and do around someone who has just walked through a loss, and I was terrified of offending someone inadvertently or not loving them well when my intentions were pure.
As someone who has now been on both sides of the situation, I’d like to offer some ideas of what you CAN do to serve and support a mama walking through a loss.
1. Acknowledge her.
Sometimes it feels good just to be acknowledged. For someone not to dance around the subject and act as if this terrible thing weren’t happening, or through silence insinuate that our loss wasn’t real. I personally didn’t mind being acknowledged in person with a simple “How are you doing?” or “I’m sorry for your loss.” But for the more introverted mamas, sending a card can be a really nice gesture because she doesn’t have to say anything back if she doesn’t want to. She can simply receive the card and know that you see her. Or, if she wants, she has the invitation to open up the conversation further.
2. Treat her normally.
As much as I desired for people to honestly acknowledge our loss and not minimize it, I also didn’t want to be treated as if anyone had to walk on eggshells or be nervous around me. Nothing made me more uncomfortable than to watch others be uncomfortable around me while everything was happening. It meant the world to have friends and family who treated me with grace and kindness, not condescending pity or awkward avoidance.
3. Provide a meal.
As a mom who had two toddlers underfoot while miscarrying, I realized that time marches on even in the midst of our trials. Even during our physical recovery or our time of incapacitation, all the ins and outs of keeping the home going still demanded to be done. Bringing a meal for the family (whether it’s a family of just the two parents or a family with a few kiddos) is a blessing. This means that mama gets some extra much-needed mental and physical rest, and daddy (who is also dealing with this loss) doesn’t have to step in and take the family meal-prepping reins.
Even if you have literally no extra time to prepare an additional home-cooked meal or you live in a different geographical area than your friend, don’t be afraid to send her a card with a gift card enclosed. Many restaurants offer family sized take-out meals, or her partner could run out and grab a to-go order from most any restaurant you can imagine in her area. This will still eliminate the stress of meal planning and grocery shopping, even if only for one or two nights. And that is a big deal.
And remember, feel out the situation. Your friend may not be up for a time of visiting when you drop off the meal. If she seems receptive, provide a chance for her to open up and give her a good hug. If she seems like she just may prefer you to drop it off and be on your way, be the friend who respects that.
4. Hear her.
This one is oh-so-important and doesn’t even cost a dime! Let your friend know you are there for her, and that listening to her talk about what is happening doesn’t freak you out. Let her tell you that this is hard, or that this just sucks. Let her cry. Let her say whatever she needs to say without feeling pressure to “make it better” or tell her that “everything is OK.” Mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep. Just truly be there with her, meeting her in the mess without shrinking away awkwardly at the first sign of her honesty.
5. Share Gospel-centered encouragement.
During my first loss, I had a sweet friend who mailed me a book someone bought for her during her recent miscarriage. She had personally found it very encouraging and helpful, and her decision to “pay it forward” was very impactful to me. I loved this resource, and there are many like it out there.
6. Send her flowers.
We all know a bouquet speaks a thousand words, and that fresh flowers are good for the soul. I had a few long-distance friends who surprised me by sending the most beautiful bouquet arrangements. As I was lying on the couch reading during my kids’ nap time, it was truly the best unexpected knock at the door. It was an incredibly thoughtful surprise, and a tangible reminder that people in our lives truly cared. You can send through local floral delivery, online floral delivery, or even save costs by using a vase you have on hand and purchasing some flowers from a local market or picking some gorgeous blooms from your garden and dropping them off on her porch. You can get creative; it’s the thought that counts.
7. Gift her a special token.
Many of us have to admit that one of our top love languages is receiving/giving gifts. One of my friends who recently miscarried shared with me that she was gifted a necklace and she described how much it meant to her to receive both encouragement and a tangible reminder of her sweet baby’s life. In addition to jewelry, other ideas for thoughtful gifts during this time might be a journal, a candle, a dessert, or any other small happy item you know will bring your friend comfort.
8. Pray for her.
This one seems obvious and simple, but I’d argue that it’s not. Many of us are guilty of saying “I’m praying for you!” but in reality, we neglect to do so. Carve out 5-10 minutes on your commute or while doing dishes to sincerely pray for peace, healing, perspective, sanctification, and for the Lord to draw close to her during this time. If you feel comfortable, ask your friend if there are any specific ways you can pray for her—then do it.