How to Support a Friend After a Miscarriage (From Someone Who’s Been There Twice)

support a friend after miscarriage"
support a friend after miscarriage
Source: Elevae Visuals
Source: Elevae Visuals

I still remember how the hospital paper crinkled as the doctor held my hand in the darkness and said, “I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.” It’s a sad statistic, but true: Nearly one in four pregnancies will end in miscarriage or pregnancy loss, and that day, I found out I was losing my second pregnancy in less than a year. While I did make my way through those awful months, I know it was largely thanks to the wonderful network of friends and family who were there for me and my partner during some of our most difficult days. 

If you’re at a loss as to how to support a friend or other loved one after a miscarriage, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.

Remember not everyone grieves the same (or at all)

As you show up for your friend, bear in mind that not every individual will grieve a miscarriage in the same way—or even at all. While losing a wished-for pregnancy can be heartbreaking, it’s also possible your loved one may have mixed feelings about pregnancy. Even those who are excited about the prospect of parenthood may approach their experience more pragmatically and grieve less than others, or not at all. 

If you’re not certain how your friend feels about their loss—even if you have experienced a miscarriage yourself—one of the best things you can offer them is a safe space for them to share as much or as little with you as they feel comfortable. Once you have a better understanding of how they are processing their experience, you’ll be able to better tailor your support to ensure you’re showing up for them in a way they find meaningful.

Acknowledge their loss

For some of us, this may feel like the most difficult step, but it can be the one that matters most to someone grieving.

Immediately following our miscarriages, my husband and I were fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family offering love and support while we grieved. Loved ones, friends, and even mere acquaintances sent cards and flowers and checked in frequently with phone calls and messages. 

Ultimately, there’s no one right way to express sympathy for a pregnancy loss—what matters most is that you do, much in the same way that you wouldn’t let the loss of a friend, family member, or even a pet go unacknowledged if you know someone is grieving.

“Ultimately, there’s no one right way to express sympathy for a pregnancy loss—what matters most is that you do.”

Whether you like to text, call, or send cards, prefer to help around the house while they recover, or want to honor their loss in any number of meaningful ways—this is one of those life situations where it truly is the thought that counts.

As we experienced the loss of our first one and then another pregnancy, having our community support us during some of our darkest moments made the experiences that much more bearable, and helped us feel a little less alone as we navigated our grief

support a friend after miscarriage
Source: Elevae Visuals

What to say to someone after a miscarriage

After my first miscarriage, I stopped counting the times people remarked that “at least” it was an early loss, and “at least” I knew I could get pregnant. At one point, a well-meaning friend tried to offer comfort noting that “at least” it wasn’t a real baby—a sentiment that directly contradicted and minimized the tremendous sense of loss I felt. 

While it’s the thought that counts, and we can all be guilty of misspeaking even as we try to offer support, it can especially help to be mindful of the language you use about a miscarriage, even if your friend seems to be coping well. If you’re not sure what to say to someone after a miscarriage, removing the words “just” or “at least” (and the platitudes that they often accompany) from your vocabulary can be especially helpful here, as these sentiments can often shut down conversations before they begin.

Offer help, but be specific

Reaching out with an offer of help or support after a miscarriage can be a beautiful way to show you care—and bonus points if those offers don’t require your friend to do any of the heavy lifting. For example, rather than texting, “I’m here if you need anything!” or “Reach out any time if I can help!” directly state how you’re able to support them. Anything from “I’d love to bring you dinner next week, what day would be best?” to “I’m running to the store tomorrow morning—can you text me your grocery list? I’ll leave the bags by your back door when I’m done!” can be so much more helpful than a vague offer that leaves your friend feeling like they’ve just had another item placed on an overwhelming to-do list. 

Wonderful things that loved ones did for us following our losses included bringing us meals and groceries, dropping by to help with household tasks, walking our dogs for us, and helping with miscellaneous errands. Ultimately, you know your friend and what might help them most, best. Whether they need someone to pet sit while they get out of town for a change of scenery, someone to take their other kiddos to the park so they can have a quiet afternoon to rest, or a ride to a follow-up doctor’s visit, crafting an offer that is truly tailored to them can prove the most meaningful gesture of all.

Remember their partner

I experienced countless small acts of kindness after my miscarriages, but one in particular that stays with me to this day is remembering the times that people thought to ask how my partner was doing, too.

If you’re reaching out to a friend experiencing a miscarriage, it can be important to remember that their loved ones may be grieving as well.  And while there are certain advancements being made in corporate policy to allow for pregnancy loss leave, there’s no guarantee that partners have access to these benefits, often leaving them without the time and support to process what is their loss too.

support a friend after miscarriage
Source: Elevae Visuals

Keep showing up

While the initial outpouring of support made us feel so cared for, within a week or two, it had largely disappeared. Ultimately, friends stopped calling and checking in, flowers wilted, cards were put away after being displayed for weeks, and we went through the motions of returning to our normal routines. Though it may have seemed from the outside as though we had moved on, we were very much still grieving as we looked toward a future that felt uncertain after our first loss, and absolutely bleak after our second. 

Thankfully, a close friend of ours, who had also experienced repeat pregnancy losses, checked in with us shortly after our first miscarriage. She shared her condolences and sent her love, and then went on to say she would be checking in on us. 

A few weeks later, a text message popped up. She had been thinking of us and wanted to see how we were doing. Later, still, a care package arrived, and then another text. Throughout the next year, she continued to touch base periodically, letting us know she was sending us love, reaffirming that it was OK we weren’t OK, and perhaps the greatest kindness of all, often ending her notes with “no need to respond!” 

In her persistent and loving presence, she gave us an unexpected and beautiful gift—the acknowledgment that our loss wasn’t something that she expected us to “get over” or move through quickly and that she would be there with us through it all.

There’s no one size fits all

Author Jamie Anderson once said that “grief is love with nowhere to go,” and that never felt more true than in the months after our pregnancy losses. In the end, there’s no one right thing to do or say to a friend who’s grieving—what truly matters is that you’re there for them when they need it most, to acknowledge their loss, to let them know that they’re not alone, and to do it all with love.

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