Have you ever wondered how you could do a better job supporting a friend in pregnancy loss?
Guest Post by Gabrielle Daigle of Mama Gab
I used to feel completely inadequate about supporting a friend in pregnancy loss. I hadn’t been through it. It seemed like none of my efforts could possibly be enough.
And you know what? They aren’t enough.
She lost a baby, not just a pregnancy. No pithy statement or Hallmark card can possibly be enough. Miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss are incredibly painful.
But friendship is powerful. It’s a tool that God uses to minister to women when they lose their baby.
Our baby was gone.
After a few days of labor, I delivered our precious little boy, Elijah.
Stillbirth has shown me what it means to be held, both by the Lord and by precious friends and family.
I’ve found that I wasn’t that far off in my efforts because it’s not really rocket science. It starts with being a good friend.
1. Say Something.
Say anything. I know we live in an era of “What not to say” lists, but honestly, I’m over it. I don’t want anyone walking on eggshells around me.
People are becoming so concerned about the right thing that they say nothing at all. It leaves a grieving mother feeling incredibly alone.
Miscarriage can be such a silent pain. Your friend needs that loss acknowledged, even if your words are inadequate.
For us, our loss was more obvious because I was visibly pregnant and now I’m visibly not. Yet many people still avoid discussing it altogether, and it hurts. And then I’ve had plenty of people say the “wrong” things to me, but I’m just glad they cared enough to say something.
You might worry about reminding her of her loss when she’s doing so well, but trust me, she’s thinking about it. More than anything, she longs to talk.
Do avoid empty platitudes and please be compassionate. But say something.
What do you say? A simple hug, “How have you been?” or “I’ve been praying for you” are all good places to start. You can find suggestions on announcing a new pregnancy here.
2. Call the baby by his name.
She won’t hear her child’s name on awards night or graduation day. If you can be one of the few people who speaks her child’s name, you’ll bring a little bit of joy to her every time you say it.
Look for opportunities to use his name instead of “the baby.”
I had someone call my baby an “it”once, and that stung a little. But see point #1? I was just glad she said something.
Something is always better than nothing when it comes to caring for a grieving person.
3. Act, don’t just offer.
Grieving people don’t always know what they need, so blanket offers to help can be fruitless. What if she’s interrupting you at a bad time? How would the logistics work of child care?
She doesn’t have the mental energy to figure it all out, so get specific. Tell her you’re coming over to clean her house. She can choose between Monday morning or Tuesday afternoon.
What does she need? A meal, maybe even an extra for the freezer.
Help out with child care, especially for follow up appointments.
Get creative like my friends did, since we moved out of state last year. They sent flowers, cards, chocolates, gift cards, and books. Some made donations in Elijah’s name, and women who have lost babies too mailed books to me that comforted them.
4. Remember the important dates.
Try to keep up with her due date, date of loss, and remember her on holidays like Christmas and Mother’s Day. Send a card or even just a text to let her know you’re thinking about her and praying for her today.
I like to buy a small Christmas ornament for the baby so that the family can have something tangible for him on their tree. It’s also a sweet way to remind your friend that you remember too, and that you miss the baby that should be there, celebrating his first Christmas.
5. Check in on her, even months later.
I have a friend who texts me every week or two with one question: How can I pray for you this week?
Others simply text or call just to check in. This is the kind of support that can be a lifeline for her especially if grief or depression become oppressive.
You’ll never fix her pain, but you can help share her grief load. And that’s what real, authentic friendship is all about.
If you’ve lost a baby, what made you feel supported the most ?
Gabrielle Daigle is a former English teacher and mom of 4. She loves crawfish, Jesus, and Jane Austen books, though not necessarily in that order. She writes about motherhood and homeschooling at MamaGab.net.