“Some people say it is a shame. Others even imply that it would have been better if the baby had never been created. But the short time I had with my child is precious to me. It is painful to me, but I still wouldn’t wish it away. I prayed that God would bless us with a baby. Each child is a gift, and I am proud that we cooperated with God in the creation of a new soul for all eternity. Although not with me, my baby lives.” -Christine O’Keeffe Lafser
It was a quick moment, the time we were told we had lost our baby at 8 weeks. It haunts me every time I settle in for an ultrasound; what if it happens again? What if we don’t see our baby?
God, in His amazing mercy, didn’t allow our miscarriage to take place. It was a misdiagnosis; human error coupled with miscalculated conception dates and a worthy (but relatively) low-tech machine brought about 2 weeks of waiting for the release of our little one. On top of that, my subchorionic bleeds (blood clots) made me believe I was actually going through a miscarriage, a long, painful process of sending away the bassinet, storing baby clothes, and announcing to the world that we were, in fact, not going to be having a baby in December.
I don’t pretend to have had a miscarriage; countless women do lose their little one’s and it’s an experience I can never fully relate to; yet, our experience has shown me a side of loss I had never known. However false our miscarriage was, it was still a real, heartbreaking two weeks we walked through.
The misdiagnosed miscarriage taught me ways to comfort those facing loss (along with other lessons). Below are 5 ways to encourage, bless, and carry a grieving couple during their miscarriage.
- Acknowledge the loss … and please never hint that baby was lost for a reason or due to chromosomal abnormalities
If a couple announces their miscarriage then please acknowledge their loss. We had to announce our miscarriage because we had announced our pregnancy and it was too awkward receiving congratulations when I was secretly crying tears of loss.
Perhaps, if you are intimate and the conversation arises naturally, acknowledge the loss of life and the loss of promise. Losing a baby means losing so much more. You’ve lost the chance to experience labor. You’ve lost taking first day of school pictures. You’ve lost the opportunity to drive your 16 year old to the DMV for a permit test. Losing a baby is a true loss and it is genuine, real, and heartbreaking. Acknowledging that loss is multifaceted can communicate how deep and real their grieving is.
And please, do not tell the grieving mom that many miscarriages occur due to chromosomal abnormalities. And do not remind her that “there is a reason for everything.” Please don’t. I know this is a well-meaning set of words but it can be devastating. Hearing the hint that baby is better off not being born because he/she may have developed abnormally is not healing. The last thing a mother wants to hear is that phrase; to me, it didn’t matter what abilities/intelligence our child could be born with, at least he/she would be alive and loved.
- Prepare a meal, or a hot pad, or a coffee
In other words, practical gifts can be life-giving. There were moments during our experience when I felt physically, emotionally, and mentally drained — I could barely force myself to shower let alone set the table and prepare a healthy meal for my beloved.
If you have a grieving friend, offer to bring something practical their way. During my pregnancy, I had a sweet friend popover an extra homemade chicken pot pie and a huge box of decaf Keurig cups. This same friend lent me her hot pad in case cramps and pain needed some practical heat. That gesture was huge and incredibly life-giving.
Shortly after we had announced our miscarriage a darling friend drive several hours to bring me lunch and a latte’ — her sweetness brought life and joy to me when the days seemed quite long and draining.
It’s simple, sweet, and incredibly encouraging. The same friend who brought me the lunch and coffee brought along a bouquet of flowers. The beautiful blooms kept my kitchen cheery and seemed to spread energy throughout our house … energy I didn’t have but desperately needed.
- Send a card or Facebook message
Again, if a couple has announced their miscarriage than reaching out to them privately is totally welcome. Sending a card or Facebook message can be healing. The grieving mother may not respond for days (or ever) but knowing that she has a community of support is life-giving.
I cannot tell you how I appreciated the notes received. (Sometimes from complete strangers!) Some days I didn’t respond to the words, I was too tired and too occupied with managing my loss; however, it was nice knowing I was not alone.
Eventually, loss will begin to heal. While a grieving mother may not want every conversation to revolve around her loss (she probably would like to be treated normally) she does not want her loss forgotten about. A baby is a baby, whether it dies in the womb or from natural causes at age eighty. Life is life and it is worthy of being remembered. Maybe you will be led to send a small card on the anniversary of the loss. Maybe, every once in a while, you’ll ask how the couple is doing. Maybe, you’ll send a little gift card along with the message, “Still thinking of you; you’re wonderful.”
Whatever it is, acknowledging someone’s loss and genuinely caring about how they are is an appropriate way to bless and aide in healing.
Knowing someone facing loss can feel awkward; sometimes, we don’t know what to do or say. But if you feel led there are many ways to encourage and give life to those suffering with a miscarriage. From simply acknowledging the couple’s loss to being practical and offering words of encouragement or gifts, you can make a difference in the middle of sorrow.
How do you feel about comforting those with loss? Is it an awkward situation or do you thrive in bring healing to others? What are some ways you try to bring life to those hurting? Share your ideas in a comment below — I would love to grow in this area!
Love, blessings, and coffee,