I just gave birth to a healthy, happy baby boy—my third!—and of course, I’m delighted. My best friend and her partner, however, just shared news of their miscarriage. How can I support them without rubbing in my own picture-perfect pregnancy and birth?
A: For anyone who has experienced a miscarriage (or stillbirth), the emotional toll of a pregnancy loss can be devastating. No matter how much time has elapsed, many families struggle to come to terms with their grief and have a difficult time moving forward.
There isn’t anything you can say that will make them feel better, so keep it as short and simple as, “I am so sorry for your loss” or “I’m at a loss for words.” Parents are grateful for acknowledgement of the loss they have suffered.
Although you are experiencing joy over your new baby, be aware that your friend is deeply hurting. Be conscious of your topics of conversation, and be careful not to spend too much time talking about your baby, which may be difficult for your friend to hear.
Do things for them.
Send them a card or flowers. Work with friends and neighbors in your community to arrange meal delivery or meal gift cards for the family. You can also ask the parents if there are any tasks you can help out with.
Show you are thinking of them.
Times that are hard for parents include birthdays, anniversaries, death dates and due dates. Do something simple for that person who is hurting, and show you care about them. Send a card, flowers, balloons or a candle—just so they know you are thinking about them.
Ask about the baby.
If the parent has experienced a stillbirth, do not be afraid to ask them the name of their baby and even request seeing a photograph if they’re comfortable sharing. Acknowledgement is incredibly powerful and healing for the parents.
Be present with them.
Sit in that uncomfortable place, and just be there. Don’t try to fix anything.
Provide them with alone time.
If the mother and her partner want to do something or just be alone but they have children living with them, offer to take the children out, so the parents have some time together.
—Kiley Hanish, OTD, founder of Return to Zero Center for Healing, which provides support, educational resources and transformational retreats for women