As this week is Baby Loss Awareness Week I thought it might be useful to share some tips on how to support a friend through pregnancy loss.
The sad truth is there may be little you can say that makes them feel better, they will need time to grieve and heal, but there are things you can do during that time to support.
Keep checking in
In the time immediately after a loss they are likely to get many messages of support, but over time that contact becomes less frequent. Keep sending messages to ask how they are/let them know you’re there for them. Tell them you don’t need a reply every time, you just want to them to know you’re thinking of them. Remembering significant dates around their pregnancy and loss can be good so you can be there on particularly difficult days.
Remember they are postpartum
Just because their birth happened too soon they have still just had a baby and will be recovering physically as well as emotionally. Their hormones are probably all over the place, they may still be bleeding and their body needs time to readjust. Miscarriage is tough physically and to think of it being like a period is dismissive, incorrect and hurtful.
Be patient with them
They may not be very present as a friend and they may be behaving differently to usual. Meet them with compassion and patience, their world has been shaken and they need all their energy and brain space for themselves right now. It isn’t personal if they ignore your messages/forget your birthday/don’t want to hang out.
Lighten their load
Help out in any way you can to make their life a little bit easier, whether that is walking the dog, doing the laundry, doing a food shop… Life feels super overwhelming when you’re grieving and daily chores can feel too much. If you’d like to do some cooking take them savoury food – eating 4 trays of brownies when you’re already sad makes you feel 10x worse and grief cannot survive on take-away alone.
Say something over nothing
Grief makes some people awkward but the worst thing you can do is to say nothing. It’s ok not to know what to say, a simple ‘I love you’, ‘I’m sorry you’re going through this’ or ‘I’m here for you’ is a million times better than radio silence. Be there if they want to tell you about their experience or talk about the baby they lost and never start a sentence with ‘at least’. ‘At least’ you got pregnant/can carry a child/are young enough to try again is not going to be well received.
Offer physical touch
If you’re struggling to know what to say, physical touch is very nurturing and soothing. The truth is there is very little you can say to ease their pain, but a hug, a hand hold, stroking their hair/forehead or booking them a massage can be a lovely way to offer your support. Your physical presence can be really appreciated if you’re able to go and spent time with them, even if it means sitting watching a movie in silence.
Follow their lead
Everyone is different and people process their loss in different ways. Ask them how you can best support them! Let them tell you what they need and then follow through with it, whether they want to go for a walk, talk it through, go to the pub and not mention it or be left to themselves for a bit. And remember that what they need may change week to week.
If you yourself are pregnant
Don’t be surprised if you are not the person they want support from. You are currently an embodiment of what they have lost and whilst their grief should not in anyway detract from your joy, it is totally understandable if they need to hold off seeing you until they are feeling stronger.