There are some sadnesses that colour everyday life, even though we don’t talk about them. Miscarriages are one example. My experience is limited but here’s some thoughts on how to support those who are grieving:
don’t pretend it hasn’t happened or avoid talking about it. Act like you would with any bereavement and acknowledge the loss. Give the couple opportunities to talk about the baby if they want to – but follow their lead. So if they talk about their shock, identify with that. Or if you don’t know what to say, then ‘I’m sorry’. Let them tell their story if they want to.
be aware that the woman may be feeling misplaced shame or a sense that her body has somehow let her down. Most miscarriages are unexplained – but you can help by reassuring them it’s not their fault. They may also feel panicked about losing other important things in their life: let them talk about this if they want to.
don’t ignore the dads – they need support and care too; especially if they feel they have to be strong for their partner.
be sensitive if you are pregnant.
cook meals, do washing, take other kids out or offer DVDs and relaxed company.
be aware that any time a body goes from being pregnant to not being pregnant, there is a significant shift in hormones that can affect brain chemistry. Postpartum depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders can affect a mother regardless of the point at which a baby is delivered.
try and remember anniversaries and send messages to say you’re thinking of and praying for them.
give them time.
don’t say ‘you can adopt’ or ‘you can have another one’ or ‘at least you’ve got children’. This is happening, right now, and that’s the issue for now. Having other kids doesn’t make losing one easier. They don’t want another baby – they want the one they had.
be aware that this is the experience of many, many couples, including those with families. it’s estimated that 1 in 5 pregnancies will end in this way. Don’t assume that because you haven’t discussed it, it hasn’t happened.
recognise that it is devastating – at whatever stage it happens.
if it’s happened to you and you are willing to share, say that you’re willing to talk.
follow up and let them know you’re still thinking of them
make or buy something to remember the baby.
Dai Woolridge has made this poignant video (which may be upsetting if you’re raw, or it may be just the thing)
For more information: Saying Goodbye: remembrance services for people who have lost a child at any stage of pregnancy
http://www.achingarms.co.uk/ (for those who have lost babies)
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.