I belong to an online infertility support forum and somebody recently asked the question of how best to support a friend after going through a miscarriage. I LOVE that somebody is thoughful enough to ask that question. I wish when I’d been through all of my miscarriages somebody had thought to ask me what I needed from them instead of just having everyone assume that the new what I wanted/needed.
I responded to the question on the forum, using my own experience to offer guidance, or at least, God Forbid, I should have to suffer another miscarriage, this is what I’d like from the people closest to me:
1. Acknowledge Our Loss
Yes, its awkward and uncomfortable for the people around us, but do you know how few people actually acknowledged that we’d lost a baby? It was like my pregnancy never existed, it was like the little being growing inside me never existed or mattered. Having our loss ignored has also, in the past, made me feel like its not such a big deal to loose a pregnancy and that I’m completelyover reacting, something which I really battled withand learned to over come through therapy. It is a big deal, it is sad and hurtful and it should be treated that way. You don’t have to make a huge deal out of it, you don’t have to think of something philosophical to say, all you have to do is acknowledge what we’ve been through by giving a hug and saying: “I’m sorry for your loss”. Please remember that W needs this acknowledged as much as I do, I’m always shocked by how people completely ignore his feelings during a miscarriage.
2. Avoid ASSVICE
I know people mean well, I know that what they said is said to offer comfort, to soothe pain, but understand that a lot the things said to couples suffering miscarriage is so incredibly (and unintentionally) callous and hurtful and cruel.
Its NOT better that I lost the baby now rather than later.
Its NOT better that there was obviously (in your eyes) something wrong with the baby so it had to die.
Its got NOTHING to do with my age, so please don’t insult me with that.
Its NOT better because at least I know I can get pregnant, trust me!
Remember also that I’m in my 7th year of doing this, so whatever the miracle cure you’ve just heard of for getting pregnant and staying pregnant, I’ve probably been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, worn the damn thing till it fell into holes and then thrown away the T-shirt.
3. Ask Me How I’m Feeling/What I Need
I really believe this point is important. Everyone grieves differently, just because I”m not crying my eyes out every time you see me doesn’t mean my heart isn’t broken. But also remember that there are days when I don’t want to talk about it, so test the water, ask me how I’m doing, if I give a detailed answer that’s your que to ask me more questions, if I”m nonchalant in my response then understand that I’m having a day where I don’t want to talk about it. Also, if you really want to be there for me, ask me what I need. Most of the time, the thing I crave the most during my grieving is some indulgent time where I can perhaps drink a bit too much wine and blab my eyes out while you pass me tissues and we talk. Its the little things like just being there that help the most.
4. Don’t Put A Time Limit On My Grieving
The most painful experience I had during my last miscarriage was when one of my pregnant BF’s told me two weeks after I lost the baby that I should get over myself, the world does not revolve around me and my miscarriage and that I should put my miscarriage behind me and participate in her pregnancy. It felt like somebody stabbed me right through the heart. Understand that we all grieve differently and at our own pace. There is no right or wrong way to get through this, what counts is that we do get through the grief, but please allow me to do this at my own pace.
As my IVF creeps closer and closer, I’m forced to face a lot of these emotions again, the simple fact is that miscarriage is a very real possibility for me and if it does happen again, I don’t want any nasty surprises. I don’t want to have to cope with the added hurt of being inappropriately treated by someone while trying to process my own grief.
For those of you who’ve been through RPL, are there any additional points I”m missing?