October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. And we will be focusing the blog and our Youtube channel on topics and questions related to the matter.
This is such a heavy and sensitive topic, sometimes people can shy away from wanting to talk about miscarriages and infant death. Others are at a loss of what to say to support their friend, family member, or loved one who is going through such a tragic time.
The Psychological Impact
Often times the person who was carrying the baby has a lot of grief, guilt, shame, and will blame themselves for a miscarriage. They believe somehow they are to blame, that something in their ability to carry the child has failed. They might not know how to communicate what they need during this difficult time. There is a lot of happiness and cheer when someone announces their pregnancy, and to lose it, can sometimes feel so overwhelming and lonely to have to then tell everyone they have lost the pregnancy.
How to support friends or family who have suffered a miscarriage:
- Acknowledge the loss
- Don’t worry about finding the right thing to say
- Let them take the lead
- Don’t try to cheer them up with success stories about others
Acknowledge the loss:
Acknowledging what your loved one is going through is a big step in supporting them. The person might want to talk about it but doesn’t know how to bring it up. They might want support but are unable to ask for it without the acknowledgment that it happened. Tip toeing around someone who is experiencing this type of pain and grief, is the last thing that can help the situation. Speak to them, listen, tell them you are sorry for their loss.
Don’t worry about finding the right thing to say:
Nobody knows what to say in a time like this. And that’s okay. Even telling your loved one that you’re not sure the right thing to say, but that you are there for them might be enough in the moment. Follow up with them, ask them how they’re doing, ask them if they want to talk about it. And respect their privacy if they do not.
Let them take the lead:
Instead of launching into a dialogue about how you know someone who went through something similar, but then had success later on, just listen. Listen to what they are talking about and feeling, and empathize with them. Offering unsolicited advice on what they should try next is not very helpful. But allowing them to share their story with you can make a big difference.
Don’t try to cheer them up by success stories of others:
Like stated above, giving stories of others experiences, or offering advice on other ways to be successful can be really off-putting. Make sure you are supporting your loved one with an open ear.
To read more about this topic, head on over to this article by Monica N Starkman, MD at Psychology Today.