Miscarriage: The Family & Friends

photo5If you find out that a friend or family member has had a miscarriage, what should you do? Many people feel like they should say or do something. You may genuinely hurt for them and want to help. Your intentions are good. But unfortunately not everyone chooses the right words to say and causes more harm than good. You need to understand that this is a very sensitive topic and the parents are hurting deeply. They wanted this baby but now it’s gone and that brings so much emotion and heartache. You can’t truly fathom what having a miscarriage is like and what it does to a person’s heart unless you have experienced it yourself. I don’t wish this upon you in the slightest but just know that as much as you may want to offer comfort and reassuring words, it will dim in comparison to someone who has been there, who truly understands. So if you know someone who has had a miscarriage and could use some encouragement, please direct them to this blog. I’m not saying that as a plug in; I just want all those who are grieving to be able to find some help and comfort from someone who has be there.

So what should you say and do for someone who has suffered a miscarriage? I will offer some suggestions.

WHAT TO SAY

1. “I’m sorry.”
You can express your condolences but keeping it short is usually better. Just saying, “I’m sorry,” can be enough.

2. “I’ll pray for you.”
Prayer is powerful and all those prayers that people offered up on my behalf is what helped me get through. Praying for someone is one of the most caring things you can do. Having people tell me that they had been praying for me was encouraging. That helped more than anything else they could say to me.

3. “I’m hurting with you.”
Saying something like this lets them know that you are acknowledging that this hurts and you are validating that it is hurt-worthy. And it tells them that you are bearing this sorrow with them.

WHAT TO DO

1. Offer to bring a meal.
I didn’t feel up to cooking during my miscarriage and grief and not many people will. Offer to bring a meal so that they don’t have to bother with shopping or cooking. It will take one thing off their plate that they don’t have to worry about.

2. Ask them if there is anything specific that you can do.
I had a friend offer to bring a meal or help in any way I needed so I asked her to help me clean my house. It needed a cleaning and I always feel good once my house is clean. So be open to whatever they may need from you. The goal is to be there for them and do whatever you can to lessen the burden.

WHAT NOT TO DO

1. Don’t have them hold your baby.
You may think that holding a baby will help but it won’t. It will only reinforce for them what they have lost.

2. Do not exclude them.
Don’t exclude them from gatherings that will have young children or pregnant women around but also understand that they may decline. It can be hard for people who have just gone through a miscarriage to be around babies and women who are pregnant but let them decide what they are comfortable with.

3. Don’t bother them with a lot of questions.
Allow them to talk and open up when they are ready. Some people may be ready to talk right away but others may need more time. Though talking things out can be very helpful and healthy, they need time and space to get to the point where they are ready to start healing.

WHAT NOT TO SAY

1. “There was something wrong with the baby so this is actually a good thing.” 
No, it’s never a “good” thing to lose a child, even if there was something wrong. The parents are aware that something was wrong but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they lost a child that they loved and dreamed about.

2. “You’ll have another baby.”
This is not something the parents want to hear. Even if they do have another baby it will never replace the baby that they lost. They can look at the future with hope for another baby but it will never take away the fact that they lost this baby.

3. “Now wasn’t the right time.”
Parents don’t want to hear that now wasn’t the time for them to have a baby. This isn’t comforting and it doesn’t take away from the fact that they wanted this baby.

Basically, don’t say anything that would make the miscarriage seem like it’s not a loss and don’t try to put a positive spin on it. I know you may have good intentions but a miscarriage is not a positive thing; it is a loss of a life. Nothing you say can make it into something that it’s not. The best thing you can do is approach the parents with sensitivity for what they are going through, respect the way they chose to grieve, and be there for them as they desire. They do need support, love, and compassion. And they need to be reminded that God is still good. So bless them, encourage them, and give them grace. If you are there for them in their time of sorrow then look forward to being there for them in their time of rejoicing. For it will surely come.

Miscarriage: The Father

photo 2The mother isn’t the only one who grieves when a miscarriage happens. The father is also affected by the loss of a baby. Every man responds differently; some may feel the loss more strongly than others. My husband didn’t feel the loss as I did. He didn’t feel very attached to the baby because he hadn’t seen a sonogram, heard a heartbeat, or felt the baby move. I think what was harder for him was watching me go through the miscarriage and dealing with my grief. However a father responds, whether he felt attached or not, the baby was his and it is just as much a loss for him as it is for his wife. I would like to give the fathers some advice on how to handle their grief as best I can but since I’m not a guy I’ll be focusing more on how they can support their wife during this time.

HANDLING YOUR GRIEF

1. Express your grief.sad-man-silhouette-on-bench
I know a lot of husbands feel that they have to be strong and help their wives cope so they suppress their emotions. This isn’t healthy. You need to deal with the miscarriage too so if you do feel a sense of loss then you need to grieve as well. That will probably look different from the way your wife grieves and that’s okay. But don’t suppress your grief so that you never face it. Hiding emotions doesn’t make you strong, it only postpones the inevitable break. Own your grief and deal with it so that you and your wife can heal.

2. Talk to your wife.
It is important that you talk with your wife about the miscarriage. Talk about how it makes you feel, how it makes her feel, and how you are handling it. When my husband and I talked after our miscarriage we communicated with each other about how we were responding and coping. I was open about my feelings and explained to him why I felt such a deep sense of loss. And he explained to me why he didn’t feel as attached to the baby and how he felt about it. Understanding each other helped us to bond amidst the grief.

A miscarriage can be hard on a couple but you need each other now more than ever. So stay connected by being there for each other and communicating with each other. You need to get through this together.

Here is a link to an article that was written by a guy who’s wife has had three miscarriages. It is a great article from a man’s perspective. It will be more helpful on the subject of handling your grief. Please take a moment to read How a Man Handles a Miscarriage

SUPPORTING YOUR WIFE

You may not understand all of the emotional and physical struggles that your wife is going through right now and that can be scary. If you are like most guys then you just want to fix it but nothing can be done when it comes to a miscarriage. The best thing you can do for your wife right now is supporting her through her grief. Here’s some suggestions on how to do that.

1. Let her grieve.
Your wife will probably grieve differently than you and seem more emotionally torn up and devastated. She has gone through something traumatic and painful. She’s lost a baby. Let her express her feelings and work through her grief as she needs to.

2. Be patient.
Be patient with her rollercoaster of emotions and moods. Hormones and grief can do a number on a woman’s body. And be patient with the timeframe of her grief. There is no rule for how long someone should or should not grieve. Just be patient and help her wade through all of her feelings and encourage her as she progresses in the process of healing.

3. Take care of her.
Talk with her, hold her, confirm her. Make sure she’s taking care of herself and make sure that she knows you love her. When a woman has a miscarriage she can feel guilty and broken as a female. Let her know how wonderful you think she is and encourage her to not dwell on those negative thoughts.

4. Pray with her.
When I was going through my miscarriage my husband would pray with me. Even though my heart was a little hardened toward God at the time it was good to hear my husband pray. He had faith in the moments that I did not and that helped me to overcome those times of unbelief. So pray with your wife. It will be an encouragement to her to hear you ask the Lord for healing and strength.

5. Be open to how she wants to honor the baby.
If she desires to plant a tree, buy a piece of miscarriage jewelry, or name the baby then hear her out and be open to the idea. If she does want to do something then it will help her progress in her grieving and healing. I’m not saying that you may not want to do anything but it’s something to think about and talk about with each other.

A miscarriage is hard on everyone but in time healing will come. Grieve as you need to and be there for your wife as she grieves. This is a sad reality in life and it doesn’t seem fair but God has a purpose in everything. All we can do is trust Him and rest in His sovereignty. One day He will make all things right and it is then that everything will be okay.

Miscarriage: The Mother

photo 2In that moment when that pregnancy test turns positive women experience an array of emotions. Surprise, fear, joy, uncertainty, excitement, awe, and for the most of us, a sense of love. Already we feel connected to this little life inside of us. It is an amazing revelation when we realize that we’ve created life and that our bodies are helping to nurture, grow, and develop a baby. It is an awesome and mystifying experience.

But what happens when that 1 out of 4 women discovers that she is bleeding or suddenly starts to cramp? What happens when that life ends in a miscarriage? All of that joy, excitement, and expectancy is ripped from us as we deliver our baby without life and we realize just how fragile and just how precious life is.

If you are reading this then you may have had a miscarriage and I have much that I want to say to you. I wish I could meet you for coffee and sit beside you and hear your story. I wish I could give you a hug. But for now this virtual connection will have to do and the first thing I want to say is this: I’m sorry. I am so sorry for your loss. I know what you are going through right now. As I write this I am shedding tears for not only the baby that I loss but for your baby too. It seems so cruel that a mother should lose a child. I hurt with you. There are some things that I want you to know as you grieve. Things that people told me while I grieved and things that I learned through my own miscarriage. I hope this blesses you.

photo 41. It is okay to grieve.
Miscarriage is generally an unspoken loss. And it’s different from other losses. We typically don’t hold funerals or memorial services for first trimester miscarriages. It isn’t something that is publicly acknowledged as a loss so we wonder if it is okay to grieve. We feel sorrow and hurt, just like anyone does when they lose someone they love, but can we grieve as others do?

Yes, you can grieve. It is okay. You have experienced a loss. Grieving is a process that will bring healing. No one can tell you how to grieve, or how you should grieve, that is up to you. I would, however, like to offer some suggestions. If you are feeling dazed and unsure of how to proceed in your grief then maybe this will help.

2. You are not broken.
Having a miscarriage doesn’t mean that your body isn’t capable of carrying a baby. Miscarriages just happen, for reasons we don’t really know, and they can’t be predicted or prevented. You are not broken, this is not your fault. You are not to blame. Release your guilt. Holding on to it will only prolong your grief.

3. Embrace the rollercoaster.
The days and weeks after a miscarriage take you on a rollercoaster ride. Your emotions will be everywhere. One reason is because you are in a state of grief but another reason is because your body is trying to get back to a pre-pregnant state. The pregnancy hormone will still be in your blood and will still cause a hormone shift which will still cause mood swings. It’s a rough ride because there isn’t a lot of peace but it is a part of the grieving process. Don’t fight it. Ride it out.

4. Don’t be afraid to be honest with God.
There was one particular day during my miscarriage that I became very angry. I literally shouted at God for what He was allowing me to go through. I wrestled with Him and told Him exactly what I was feeling. It wasn’t pretty but I needed to get it out. I never stopped believing in God’s sovereignty or His goodness but I wasn’t happy in how God was choosing to display His sovereignty and I let Him know it. I think that’s okay. I think that in those moments of coming to God in anger and desperation we open ourselves up to Him and His will. God didn’t stop the bleeding like I had asked and He didn’t keep me from losing my baby but I wasn’t angry at Him anymore. I had surrendered. So don’t be afraid to be honest with God about how you feel. Don’t be afraid to tell Him why you’re angry and hurt. He doesn’t expect us to not feel the heartbreak.

5. Don’t be afraid to accept help from friends and family.
I had one friend offer to bring a meal and another friend came to help me clean my house. During my grieving I did not feel up to cooking and cleaning so I gladly accepted their help. If someone offers help to you don’t be afraid to accept it and tell them specifically what you need. Many people don’t know what to do when they learn that a loved one is going through a miscarriage but they want to do or say something. Not everyone makes good choices on what to do or say but if you specifically tell them then you can spare yourself more grief.

6. It is okay if you don’t want to see anyone.
I had many people offer me their condolences and I truly appreciated it but you may not want to talk to anyone and that’s okay. You may also not want to see anyone and that’s okay too. I didn’t go to church the first Sunday after my miscarriage because I didn’t want to see anyone that I knew. I was afraid of what they would say and I was afraid of breaking down in front of them. It is okay to give yourself some time to heal before being around other people.

7. Talk with your husband.
Now is not the time to drift apart. You need each other as you work through your grief. A miscarriage can be hard on a couple but talking it out and getting through will bring you closer together. Your husband may grieve differently than you and that’s okay. Talk with him about what you are feeling and what he is feeling so you can walk through this together.

It took a while for my husband and I to talk about our miscarriage but when we did it opened up the doors of communication as I continued to process my grief.

8. Name your baby (or not).
I had no intention of naming my baby because I didn’t know the gender but deep inside I wanted to give the baby a name. I grew tired of saying “it” or “the baby.” It didn’t feel right. So I did a Google search because I wondered if it would be strange to name an unborn baby. It turns out that a lot of people name the baby they miscarry. Some don’t but many do. So at the encouragement of a friend I spoke with my husband and we chose the name Rylie.

Once we gave the baby a name I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I felt that in naming my baby I honored and acknowledged his or her life even though it was short lived. Because Rylie wasn’t just a baby but my baby. The baby was Rylie and I will never have Rylie again. Never again will that life exist. That is what we mourn. It’s not just the loss of a baby but that baby.

It’s up to you whether you give your baby a name or not. There is no right or wrong way to handle this. It’s about what you want and what will most help you grieve. So give your baby a name if you truly desire; or not.

9. Do something as a memorial.
Again, this is up to you, but some women like to do something in memory of the baby they lost. Some people plant a tree but I chose to buy a necklace with a charm that reads “hope” and it has little footprints and the date of the miscarriage inscribed on it. I wear it everyday and every time I touch it I remember Rylie. It has become so precious to me.

10. Set a goal for yourself while you wait.
Your doctor will tell you when you can start trying again. All doctors say different things but if you have to wait a while then I encourage you to set a goal for you to focus on and accomplish during your waiting period. Maybe make a list of all the books you’ve been wanting to read or start a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. I’ve decided to start exercising and lose some weight. I figure now is the time to do it while I’m not pregnant and can’t get pregnant until the summer. And maybe by the time I am pregnant again I’ll be 10-15 pounds lighter!

hope

Having a miscarriage is one of the most devastating experiences a woman could have. It is traumatizing and painful. But in time, the pain will hurt a little bit less. You’ll always think back on the experience with sadness and you’ll always miss your baby but it’s going to be okay. Your heart will heal. God is still sovereign and He is still good. There is hope for healing and there is hope for another baby. And in the bigger picture, there is hope that God will make everything right. In the end, God wins; and all of our sorrow and tears will have a purpose.

You will pull through. And at the other end of this dark tunnel is a light. And that light, it is called hope.

Miscarriage [An Unspoken Loss] Series

 

photo 2January 25th, 2013 I had a miscarriage. I was 9 weeks along but the baby had stopped developing weeks before. I had announced my pregnancy only a few days after finding out so I knew that I would also have to announce my miscarriage. I was anxious to get it over with so I posted on Facebook about it and asked for prayers. At first I didn’t think I would want to write about my experience in the midst of it but I ended up writing through my grief. As a result I had women come out of the woodwork sharing with me that they too had had a miscarriage and they shared their story with me. Through this I came to realize that a great number of women have a miscarriage and it goes unacknowledged. It is rarely talked about and a part of the reason for that is because there is no opportunity or circumstance in which such a taboo topic would be acceptable. I want to change that. I would like to provide an avenue in which women can share their story without fear of being judged or misunderstood. But I’ll explain more on that later.

487776_10151290181575897_1406434413_nFor now, I want to introduce a new series to my readers. This week I will be discussing miscarriage and how it effects those involved; the mother, the father, friends and family. I’m going to give advice to the mothers on grieving, advice to the fathers on how to be there for the mother, and advice to the friends and family on what they can do and say to be of the most help and support. I am sad that this is even a relevant topic but I feel blessed to have the ability to minister to the women who have to go through this kind of loss. I believe that God has a purpose for everything so just maybe God’s purpose in me losing Rylie was so that I could comfort those who will also lose a child. I have much to say in the coming days but for now, if you are reading this and you are currently going through a miscarriage or have recently gone through one, then please know this: you are not alone. There is hope for you yet.