What to do when your friend suffers a miscarriage

crying_womanThere are few greater joys in the world than seeing two small lines appearing on a stick. The news that there is life sprouting in a womb, especially your best friend’s womb, is marvelous and life changing. Visions of layettes and heirloom names start dotting conversations. Hopes and dreams for the future are uttered with gleeful smiles.

And then there is blood.

Hushed conversations spell out the tragic news that the baby has been lost. And even though it was not your womb, your heart and soul are crushed. You grieve and feel a world of pain for your friend.

But what do you do?

Whatever you do, do NOT give advice.
She doesn’t need to hear that it was only 6 or 8 or 12 or 20 weeks. She doesn’t need to hear that she can try again. And she most definitely does not need to hear that it was for the best or there is a silver lining or that God or the universe has a plan. She lost her baby. Let her grieve.

If you offer to help with chores and errands then make good on your word.
The last thing your friend wants is for you to call her up, tell her how sorry you are, offer to clean her house or make her food or pick up her groceries, and then not see you. You know what that says? It says that you went out of your way to offer nothing more than a platitude. Go pick up some take out and drop it off. Mop her floors and toss in some laundry. Do the heavy lifting so that she can grieve.

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Don’t put her in a position that makes her apologetic.
No matter how well intended you may be, don’t tell her how upset you are in a manner that compels her to comfort you. You can grieve too – and you should if you love your friend – but don’t make your feelings take center stage so that your friend feels the need to say, “I’m sorry”. That is unbelievably unfair and also astonishingly common. She shouldn’t have to apologize to anyone for something that happened to her and her baby. She should be allowed to grieve.

Give your friend the space and opportunity to freak out.
Unfortunately, we live in a world that isn’t OK with talking about miscarriage. It isn’t polite. It isn’t cheery. In fact, it is ugly, painful, scary, and lonely. Be that friend who steps up and says, “I want to give you a safe and judgment free space to just freak out and let some of this out of you.” Let her cry, let her scream, and let her eat her way through the refrigerator or drink her way through an entire bottle of wine if she wants. But let it be for and about her. Let her grieve.

If she decides to try for another pregnancy then don’t remind her of her loss.
Don’t be that know-it-all pointing out her age, or medical troubles, or risks factors. Nod your head with a smile on your face and offer her love and acceptance. Tell her you love her. Tell her you will support her choices. It is her wish to bring life into this world and it is your job as her friend to offer nothing but love and support, even if you are scared for her. She is probably scared too. She is probably still grieving.

The hardest conversations in the world are the ones when you are asked to bare witness and stay quiet. Your heart may be wringing itself out with grief, love, and fear all at the same time as you rack your brain trying to find the right words to say to your friend while she tries to cling to hope in the face of heartbreaking catastrophe. Be the friend she needs you to be.

Let her grieve.




Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.