My Best Friend Just Had A Miscarriage

Dear Mamas,

My best friend, Alice, had a miscarriage in her fourth month of pregnancy. Before this happened she had been trying for months to get pregnant and is really devastated now. I don’t know what to say to her. It’s been two weeks since it happened and she is still really depressed. Should I just try to keep her mind off of it or try to get her to counseling? I hate to bring it up because I have a one-year-old and I feel kind of guilty.

Thanks for your help,

Margo

Hi Margo,

You’re a really good friend to be so concerned about Alice because she really does need your love and support now and will, for some time to come. Often, people don’t realize just how hard a miscarriage really is and become impatient if the woman doesn’t “snap out of it” after a few weeks.

Sometimes well-meaning friends and family members figure that since the baby died in utero it was never really “real.” Or, that there must have been something seriously wrong with him and that nature was just taking it’s natural course. End of story, let’s move on.

But loss is loss and grief is grief and that baby was very real to the mom who was carrying him, whether he made it all the way or not. He was a physical and emotional part of her. She had dreams for that child and for herself in relationship to him. Those dreams do not just suddenly disappear and she will need time to mourn the loss of her baby and all that might have been. It’s not something that you just bounce back from.

Healing takes a lot of time and a lot of love, patience and understanding from everyone around. Moms who miscarry often experience a barrage of emotions when they lose a baby — everything from sadness, anger and grief to more complicated ones like shame, failure and guilt.

They may feel like there is something wrong with them, that they are somehow flawed or “less than” because their baby died. Or, that it was somehow their fault, that if only they had eaten better or gotten more sleep, the baby might have made it.

These feelings can be overwhelming and very hard to deal with alone. But luckily, Alice isn’t alone, she has you. So what can you do to help her walk through this very challenging time? For starters, don’t ignore her or the subject. Moms who have miscarried may also be wracked by feelings of loneliness or isolation and need their loved ones to seek them out. Don’t wait for her to bring up the miscarriage, you can take the lead.

Ask her how she’s feeling, both physically and emotionally. And ask her how her husband is, too. Make it clear that you are comfortable talking about all the things she must be feeling and thinking. You don’t have to come up with any brilliant solutions.

What she needs is permission to just be wherever she is emotionally without feeling judged or that she is a burden. If you can simply be there to witness her experience with her, you will be doing an enormous amount to help her find her way out of her nightmare.

Another thing you could do is look into support resources for her. Women who suffer a miscarriage, whether it’s at five weeks or 8 months, benefit greatly from being able to talk about what happened with others who are in the same boat. She may feel too overwhelmed to scout out appropriate support groups on her own. You can do that and have a few numbers ready to give her when the time seems right.

Above all, remember that she needs her friends and family now and she needs to know that they will give her the time and space to mourn, however long it takes. Stay close and don’t shy away from her memories, fears or sadness. In time, with love and support from wonderful friends like you, she will heal.

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.


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One response to “My Best Friend Just Had A Miscarriage”

  1. Nancy

    There is also a huge support community on the Net. There are hundreds of sites like http://www.october15th.com (the date is designated as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day), http://www.nationalshare.org and http://www.bornangels.com. Your friend might find the anonymity of the Net appealing.

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