How to comfort and be there for someone experiencing a miscarriage

A dear friend gave me the inspiration for this post. Many women suffer through miscarriages alone because they are afraid of what their friends and family will do or say. And for good reason! Some people said the most outrageous things to me after my miscarriages, like, “maybe you should just go ahead and get your tubes tied,” or “when are you going to just get over it?” Or the worst one: “At least you didn’t lose a real baby!”

Before I begin on how to comfort someone dealing with miscarriage, let me first describe to you how she might be feeling about the whole thing right now. As anyone who has been pregnant knows, you feel an instant connection with the little human in your womb from the instant you see that positive pregnancy test. You love him/her (them!) already. From the moment you realize you’re pregnant, it consumes 99% of your thoughts and feelings. And when you realize you are miscarrying, you feel like one of your children has died. Probably because one of your children has died. And I’m not comparing it to when someone has lost a child who had already been born because that is ludicrous. You don’t see mothers who have lost 20 year olds trying to compare their grief to mothers who have lost 5 year olds. It is incomparable other than the fact that they are all grieving. My point is that mothers who have experienced miscarriage should be allowed to grieve too. Which brings me to my first bit of advice:

1) Be a sympathetic listener and allow her to grieve. Don’t try to pass off her miscarriage as no big deal. It is a big deal to her.

2) Bring dinner, flowers, or some treats. Some people did this for us and it helped so much. A miscarriage is a trauma to the body, and she will probably be bed ridden for a while.

3) Send a nice note of condolence. I still have all the sweet notes that people wrote us and will cherish them always.

4) Dedicate a mass (or church service) in the baby’s honor. This was honestly the best one to help me cope. My Mom let me know that the Church has masses every year in honor of all the babies lost to miscarriage and still birth. We added the babies we lost to the list and invited all of our family to the mass. It really helped us to mourn our babies and feel closure about their passing out of our lives and into the next one. It was a lovely reminder that we would rejoin all of our children some day.

5) If she is religious, the Elizabeth Ministry is an invaluable resource.

Hopefully, together we can eliminate the taboo on the subject of miscarriage, so that women won’t be afraid to lean on their family and friends during this difficult time.

0 thoughts on “How to comfort and be there for someone experiencing a miscarriage

  1. Christina

    Having lost a 10 year old, I think the thing that hurts the most in loss is that you not only lose a child you also lose all your hopes and dreams for that child. And like you say in the blog, the minute you find out that you are pregnant you dream… You are dressing them, connecting with other moms of children with same age children, etc. You are traveling down a road that suddenly you have to get off. Without the promise of eternal life through our Saviour Jesus Christ; I wonder if you could find healing.

  2. Sarah

    Thanks for this, it was very comforting. Another thing I don’t understand is when people say to me (a number of people have) “It’s for the best”. Well, no. My baby here with me, perfectly healthy and happy, living a long, happy life has to be ‘for the best’, surely?!. It makes me mad. I just change the subject if they say it now ;).

    1. sylcell Post author

      Yikes! I tell people a good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t say it to someone who has lost a five year old, you probably shouldn’t say it to someone who has had a miscarriage either.

  3. S.K.

    I mentioned this in a comment on another article. While we can never solve all problems and God is ultimately in charge, I would recommend anyone who has suffered a miscarriage to go to fertilitycare.org. Sometimes there are health issues that can be resolved to help a couple conceive and carry a baby to term. These doctors use the Creighton Method of NFP and Naprotechnology to get to the root of the problem and, if possible, treat it. They work with endometriosis, Polycyctic ovarian syndrome, repeated miscarriage, even postpartum depression and menopause symptoms. It’s worth a prayer and a look!

  4. S.K.

    I would say, also remember your friends or relatives who have lost a child through miscarriage on Mother’s Day and on Father’s Day. As someone mentioned above, not all mothers (or fathers) want to talk about their loss, so you have to think things through and pray before speaking or acting. Know, however, that they probably don’t just breeze through Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. No matter what, pray for them. If you can do or say something and it will help, do so. If you think they wouldn’t want the attention, etc. just pray.

  5. Carol

    I am a retired obstetrician and in all my years of practice, some of the most difficult times were comforting a woman after a miscarriage. I always tried to reassure them that it was not caused by anything they did or didn’t do. When you envision how complex a human is, it’s a miracle that so many babies are born healthy and at full term. And never remark that “at least you already have a child” (or more than one) – children are not interchangeable. Be compassionate and treat the person as you would anyone who lost a loved one. With time their grief will diminish, but they will always remember the comfort you gave.

    1. sylcell Post author

      Beautifully put! Some OBs really are not only good at the medical side of their job, but like you, are absolute angels when it comes to the interpersonal side. I remember mine just put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I know this is sad when you would like to start a family.” It meant so much to me at the time, and I will never forget it.

    2. Kate

      Thank you so much for this. I am fortunate to have the most amazing and supportive Consultant Gynaecologist to support me. He treats me with so much empathy and compassion when he has to tell me time and time again that he “can’t see a heartbeat”. And all the times in between as well…. He is always there for me to answer my questions, advise on tests and treatments and to speak honestly, kindly, gently and sometimes frankly to me about my miscarriage history..5 lost and very precious babies. Aside from my husband he is about the only other support I have as I go through 4 long and unending years of recurrent miscarriage. Some doctors are just special. you sound like one of them and my Consultant is too…but you are like rare and precious jewels…not too many about!

  6. Sandra

    I’ve had a miscarriage 2 months ago and my best friend just brushed it off. I was so hurt and upset that I quite speaking to her. I didn’t understand why she would abandon me in such a time of need. We had a huge blow up a few days ago and I found out that she is going through a difficult time as well.
    We are on speaking terms now but having to go through it alone was difficult. Even my own husband has said, “just get over it”. I think I would be able to if it hadn’t been for all of the people around me conceiving and birthing beautiful babies. In a way I’m envious… And reminded of my loss.

    1. sylcell Post author

      I am so sorry for your loss. Your feelings are completely normal. My SIL and I were pregnant at the same time and I lost my twins and I couldn’t help but look at her big belly with envy even though I love her so much. You just acknowledge the feelings are normal but unhelpful. Sending you a big cyber hug.

  7. aspiecatholicgirl

    Thank you so much for writing this. Having never been pregnant (single and a virgin) an article like this can really help one know how to show the compassion and kindness one wants to but doesn’t know how to show towards someone experiencing something so deeply sad.

  8. SarahMarie

    I was 17 and a half when I lost my child. I was about 9 weeks along. Nobody knew, not my mother, siblings or the baby’s father. I grieved completely alone because I couldn’t tell anybody. You see, at the time, I was a Sunday School teacher to a group of 8 and 9 year olds, so me being pregnant would not have been accepted. I never told my mother, 2 and a half years later, she still doesn’t know. I haven’t told very many people about it because I know the things people would think and comment. But all that matters is that I know my baby is with God and playing with his siblings until I get the chance to play with them.

    1. sylcell Post author

      What a terrible thing to suffer alone. I am so sorry for your loss and for the lack of compassion in those around you. I am giving you a huge cyber hug right now!

      1. SarahMarie

        Thank you. I am now 20 years old and think about my baby every single day. I work as a babysitter to a wonderful 2 year old boy. My baby would be 2 in July. I often get asked about my son (the boy I babysit). Everyone assumes he is mine. I wish I could say that he is mine, but I can’t. I wonder everything about my child, but I know that God knows everything about the life He blessed me with for those 9 short weeks of pregnancy.

  9. Catherine McEvoy

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. I have lost five precious babies over the last 4 years, one after the other. It is so hard to cope with and so incredibly lonely. People simply do not understand and somewhat painfully, it would seem that some people do not want to understand. Maybe if some people close to me read this article it might change their mindset and I might get the support I desperately need.

    1. stacy

      I have lost 3 babies to miscarriage. I mourned the first baby quite a bit. (Then I delivered a healthy son a year after that baby’s due date!) Next, I conceived consecutively and lost two babies in the first trimester each. The fact that those back to back pregnancies and then losses were BACK to BACK compounded the pain. I had so much hope for the second baby’s life because the pregnancy happened so quickly. Two days before I began to bleed I prayed, “God please help me to have detached love for my child.” Then my eyes fell upon the Pieta. My answer.

      I seriously grieved for a full year. My close circle of Christian friends were somewhat supportive, but one one was extremely hurtful in her comments. I told few people, and can still barely talk about it. They are my babies still. (Although I accept God’s will, and rejoice in hope!)

      My retired Bishop said that his mother, on her deathbed, called out, “Do you hear them…the bells of my babies.” these were her children she miscarried over 40 years earlier. I received great consolation from that story.

      Peace to you. I am sorry for your losses

      1. Kate

        What would we do without our faith? I would have gone mad by now. I’m an Irish Catholic and for the last few years I have done the Novena to our lady and implored her to pray for me that I would be blessed with a baby that made it to term (I also light candles every Sunday after Mass)…after both Novena’s I did get pregnant but I also went on to miscarry again. I don’t understand it. All I know is that to God all things are possible, one day I will know ‘why’ my babies (and my daddy) were taken from me too soon…and sure won’t it be great when we finally do get to heaven and are reunited with our lost babies?! But still, it hurts like nothing on this planet to lose baby after baby after baby. I was born to be a mother; I have a mother’s heart. And I have been blessed with a son and daughter. I’m just greedy and wanted more of that…it’s such a privilege to be a mother. I am constantly grieving but I am clinging to a chink of hope that someday soon I will carry another baby in my womb, feel his/her kicks and punches and cradle him/her in my arms…it is all I ask for, not money, big houses, fancy cars or holidays…just another baby…please!!

      2. sylcell Post author

        I’ll be praying for you! And you are very blessed to have your saint babies up in heaven praying for you as well! At least, I was always comforted by the fact that I could ask my saint babies to pray for me. They are in the best position to do it! God bless you and yours!

  10. Carolynn (@moonofsilver)

    I’ve lost three babies. I’ve had a ton of weird things said to me, from “don’t worry, you can have more” too “you need to confess your sin”. I really love your blog 🙂 When I miscarried the third time one of my dear friends brought me a card. She also gave me a card on mothers day. It was one of the sweetest things ever!

  11. Xaviersmammy

    I’m not religious but your essay really moved me. I had a miscarriage in January last year and I got some really insensitive comments from lots of people. The midwife at the hospital told us the news and then demanded we make a decision about what we were going to do straight away. My fiancés mother told us “it was for the best”, my dad told me to “get over it” and my mother, who has had four miscarriages, told me to “get up and stop feeling sorry for myself and do some house work”. When I had my son in march this year it was really difficult for me because it was a reminder of what I lost last year. I often find that lost of people refuse to talk about miscarriage or act as though it was something that you caused to happen and that there is a lot of stigma when you try to open up about suffering a miscarriage. I think this needs to change.

  12. stacy

    Nice essay. Another point is that some want absolutely do NOT want to discuss their miscarriage. The pain and grief is too deep. They’re very sad. You might think talking about it will make them feel better, but only the mom gets to decide the timing of discussing her loss. Don’t try to pry where you have not been asked to go.

    http://catholiclane.com/by-a-mother/

    1. stacy

      Four months after losing babies back to back, I talked to our retired Bishop. He told me the story of his mother who had lost two babies to miscarriage. She had NEVER mentioned her children, yet, on her death bed she said, “Do you hear them, the bells of my babies ringing to greet me!” (That was decades after they had returned to God.)

      I felt great comfort at his words, and still do. Yet, I don’t think I’ll ever “get over” the loss of 3 babies. I do have a very thankful heart for all 15 of my children, those with me, and those praying us all home.

      Peace to you.

      Rejoicing in Hope!

      1. sylcell Post author

        Lovely comment. Brought tears to my eyes. God bless you and yours. I am grateful to have my saint babies praying for me in heaven.

  13. mamajohnston

    You know, I even get sad when I am trying to get pregnant and get my period instead. I can’t believe the things people have said to you re: miscarriage

  14. mommyx4boys

    I lost my daughter in 2008. This poem is to all the mothers who have lost a child, i hope it will bring you some comfort.
    What makes a mother? I thought of you and closed my eyes and prayed to God today. I asked what makes a mother? And i know i heard him say. A mother has a baby this we know is true. But God can you be a mother when your baby’s not with you? Yes you can, he replied with confidence in his voice. I give many women babies, when they leave is not their choice. Some i send for a lifetime, and others for a day, and some i send to feel your womb but there’s no need to stay. I just dont understand this God i want my baby to be here. He took a deep breath and cleared his throat, and then i saw a tear. I wish i could show you, what your child is doing today. If you could see your child smile with all the other children and say… we go to earth to learn our lessons, of love and life and fear. My mommy loved me oh so much i got to come straight here. I feel so lucky to have a mom, who had so much love for me. I learned my lessons very quickly my mommy set me free. I miss my mommy oh so much, but i visit her every day, and when she goes to sleep, on her pillows where i lay. I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek, and whisper in her ear, mommy dont be sad today im your baby and im near. So you see my dear sweet ones, your children are okay. Your babies are born in my home, and this is where they’ll stay. They’ll wait for you with me, until your lesson’s through. And on the day you come home, they’ll be at the gates for you.
    So now you see what makes a mother, its the feeling in your heart. its the feelings you had so much of right from the very start. Though some on earth may not realize you are a mother, until their time is done. They’ll be up here with me one day and know your the best one!