It’s hard to know how to help someone who has had a miscarriage. Here are seven things you can do to help lift up and be a friend to someone who has had a miscarriage.
I want to start this post by saying that I have never had a miscarriage. I don’t pretend to understand what it feels like, or what someone who has had one must go through. But I have had a lot of friends who have, and I know that it is not talked about nearly as much as it should be. My husband and I struggled with infertility, and I felt so alone in that journey. My goal with this post is not only to give advice on how to help someone who has had a miscarriage, but to create awareness at how common miscarriages and infertility are.
In the last few years, two of my best friends have had miscarriages. Each time, I was absolutely heartbroken for them. One of my biggest fears is to lose a baby, and I couldn’t imagine what they went through. The first time I felt like I had no idea how to help her, and even though I wanted to do what I could, I didn’t know what to do. The second time, I was able to reach out in a few different ways to help care for and comfort her. I know that I was able to help lighten her burden, even just a little bit.
When I first started doing research for this post, I posted on Facebook asking my friends to message me if they felt comfortable sharing their story and what was helpful for them when they had a miscarriage. I had so many people send me messages telling me what it was like for them and what people did that helped them get through it. Miscarriages are so much more common than you might think. Between 10-20% of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage (source). So even though it’s not something people openly talk about, miscarriages happen at least in 1 out of ten pregnancies. I don’t tell you that to scare you, only to make you realize that they aren’t as rare as you might think.
So what do you do when your friend or sister who was so excited to finally be pregnant tells you that they lost the baby? I talked to eight different women who gave me advice on what helped them the most to come up with this list. I am so grateful for their openness with me and that they were willing to talk and share their experiences. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to write this post.
How to help someone who has had a miscarriage
1. Acknowledge that you don’t know what to say
If you haven’t had a miscarriage, you might not know what to say. And you definitely aren’t going to know how they feel. So say that. One of my friends said that when someone told her “I wish I knew what to say,” it was exactly the right thing for her because she was acknowledging that she hadn’t gone through it and she didn’t know what her feelings were like at that time. Which is completely true. Don’t pretend like you know what they are going through. You don’t. And letting them know that will really help.
2. Give them a gift
Another friend told me that she heard of a girl giving someone a flower to plant that would bloom every year so she could remember her lost baby. Something physical to represent the baby that was lost that can be displayed is a great way for them to remember the baby. People who have miscarriages don’t want to forget their baby, no matter how early they lost their baby. It was still theirs. Even making a fleece tie blanket she can wrap herself up in is a simple thing that can make a difference. Other more simple gifts could be a condolence card if you are far away, or even sending flowers can help lift someone’s spirits. Making an effort to try and help can mean the world to someone who has had a miscarriage.
3. Give them a hug
Several of my friends said that receiving hugs really helped them out. Even if you aren’t a huggy person, sometimes just being held can really help. So just stop by and give your friend a hug. Honestly you might not need to do much more than that.
4. Just listen
Don’t try to fix their problem, don’t try and get them to be grateful for their other kids, don’t try to give advice. Just listen to them. Let them talk about how they are feeling, and then be there so they can cry on your shoulder. Husbands are great, but sometimes you need a third party for support. Be that person for someone.
5. Let them know you are thinking about them
Whether you are close or far away, send them a text, give them a call, or just do something to let them know that you are thinking about them. Knowing that people care is going to help them feel loved, and a lot of my friends said that that was what they needed most. So reach out, tell them you are thinking about them, and that will mean a lot to them.
6. Give them some alone time
They might just want to be alone, so ask if you can take their kids for a few hours so they can nap or pay for them to go get pampered somewhere. Sometimes they might just want to think about it by themselves, so let them. Give them a chance to do something for themselves without worrying about anything else. And if you offer and they say no, that’s fine, too. This might not be for everyone, but give them that chance because it might be what they need.
7. Take them out so they can do something normal
Some people might want to distract themselves for a few hours so they can take a break from the pain they are going through. So go out with the girls for ice cream or for hot chocolate. Go get your nails done together. Do something you might do on a girls’ night out. Just be around friends and have fun doing something together.
Losing a baby is not something I would ever wish upon anyone. To those who have gone through one (or several), I am so, so sorry. Always remember that you are not alone, and you are loved.
I want this post to help others know what to do for someone who has had a miscarriage. My heart breaks for everyone who has ever had one. I can’t imagine the pain that accompanies it, and I think it must be even worse because women don’t always feel like they can tell people. We need to take away the stigma that comes with miscarriages, and be more open and supportive. A baby is a baby, whether it is born or not. Please help me share this message by sharing this post. We need to help women who have had a miscarriage know that they are not alone.
Again, I want to say thank you to all of my friends who talked to me for this post. I couldn’t have written this without you.
This post was originally published May 11, 2015.
I have never experienced miscarriage, but I know many people who have, and I think this is such a wonderful post. Miscarriage is something that many don’t talk about (but more do as of late), and I think it’s so important for people to know they aren’t alone. My mom had a miscarriage a year before she had me, and she always says that no matter how early you lost the baby, it’s still devastating because you realize how much you loved it so early on, and their presence is missed. This are great tips.
Chelsea Johnson says
My mom had one in between my sister and I, and my mother-in-law had one that my husband remembers. They are so hard, and I agree that people need to know they aren’t alone! Babies are still a part of your family even if they are lost, and I can’t imagine having to go through that. Thanks for your comment 🙂
I have never experienced miscarriage, my mom mom has. I remember the devastation I felt when she lost one if my siblings to a miscarriage, but I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be for a mother. This post brought tears to my eyes. This is a sensitive topic and I think you approached it so well!
Chelsea Johnson says
Thanks, Kersten! I hope that we can share it so that others won’t feel alone.
This is really helpful and great information. I just had a miscarriage 2 weeks ago and it has been really tough. I was so excited and then became really worried when my pregnancy symptoms disappeared overnight and when I went in for my appointment, the baby’s heartbeat was no longer beating. This is a great post at the perfect time for me because it is never easy. Every day is different with ups and downs. I’ve had so many wonderful and supportive friends that have been there for me. I’m so grateful for their support. Physically and mentally it has been really tough, but I hope we are able to try again and eventually get a little one.
Chelsea Johnson says
Meagan, I am so sorry! I can’t imagine what you are going through. Every miscarriage I hear about just breaks my heart. I’m glad you’ve had people who have helped lift you up in such a hard time. I hope one day you are able to have a baby!!
Jessica Dimas says
What a beautiful, sensitive, helpful post. I actually have always felt like one of those people who don’t know how to console anyone, ESPECIALLY with something of this magnitude, so this was really helpful. I like that you reached out to moms who have experienced this and got their advice on it.
Chelsea Johnson says
I am that way, too! When I haven’t experienced something myself I just don’t know what to do for people. It was so helpful to be able to talk to people who have had miscarriages, and it really helped me know what to do to help someone going through one!
Thank you. I miscarried two babies, had my little girl and just four days ago had an ectopic baby taken. Four pregnancies and only one has resulted in a full term baby. I’m am eternally grateful for her but that does not diminish my grief for the other three. Tks list is great and for me the one that hits hardest is “Just Listen” I don’t mean to be rude but no one can fix your grief over losing a child and I have every right to be sad for as long as i want. Telling me that I should just be glad that I have one really irks me, “what, like you think I’m not?” We love our children individually we also for grieve them individually. I would also add advice #8 include the father, he lost his child too and could certainly use some comfort as well
Chelsea Johnson says
I’m so sorry for your losses. You definitely have the right to be sad! Losing a baby is hard, even when you haven’t met them yet. I love your advice to include the father. I think a lot of times we forget him, but he definitely is grieving after a miscarriage, too.
Thank you so much for this. Its so right. I have lost 7 babies in trying to have child #4. I have been trying for 7 years and have had trouble getting pregnant and when i do i miscarry. I am so thankful for the 3 i do have but it does not lesson the pain. It has been a long, hard few years and those around me don’t understand and most of the time make the pain worse.
Chelsea Johnson says
Oh my gosh, I am so sorry! That is so sad. I hope you are able to have another baby soon.
This is a beautiful list.
I had a miscarriage last Monday. We tried for 14 months for our angel and were completely and utterly shocked and entirely devastated to lose our baby at 9 weeks + 6 days. We are blessed to have a 3 year old after 2 years of infertility, but that doesn’t make the loss of our Uri any easier
The things I would add to this list:
Buy her pads – a miscarriage is a complete shock and unfortunately your friend will literally “give birth” to her angel. This means she will have one to two weeks of postpartum cramping and bleeding. Where do stores keep pads? Either in the diaper aisle, or the pregnancy test aisle. Neither of those are good options for a mama that just loss a baby. Send a text asking for size/specifics and grab a pack for her.
Don’t let her baby be forgotten – If she decides to name her angel, use the angel’s name in comments, conversation, cards, etc. Write down the baby’s “Due Date” and be sure to check in on your friend on that day. She will most likely be dealing with a very difficult day and feeling like no one remembers her most precious treasure that is stored in Heaven.
Offer to purchase/make dinner for the family – After a baby is born church’s, friends usually take turns making dinner for the family so that the new mom isn’t burdened with having to cook with a new baby while dealing with postpartum pain/bleeding. Your friend that miscarried is going to be in massive physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental pain…and still be expected to feed her family. Check in and offer a gift card or home cooked meal.
Chelsea Johnson says
Shayla, I am so, so sorry. I can’t imagine what you’re going through! These are such fabulous, great suggestions. I hope we don’t have to use them, but if we do, they are definitely going to help any mamas struggling with a loss. Thank you for your help.