October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. 1 in 4 women experiences miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. I am that 1 in 4; we lost our first pregnancy to miscarriage. It was one of the most painful experiences I have ever experienced in my life. During this time, my husband and I were giving the most amazing support and we found methods of healing but with most of our support not having experienced this, they felt as if they were unable to assist us.
I am writing this to help educate on ways to support a family who has experienced pregnancy loss and you are probably reading this because you want to give support to someone who has lost a pregnancy or infant or you are the person who has lost a pregnancy or infant (and I am so sorry that you are going through this). During the event of a loss like this, community and support are crucial in the healing process.
*This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products and brands that I have used and love!
One of the first reactions to an event such as this is to ask the family what they need or what they can do. If you put yourself in their shoes, you likely are going to draw a blank – either because you cannot relate or you cannot fathom a possible way to comfort this family. Let me tell you, first hand when I lost my child, I did not know what to do, how to feel, and I could not think. It is okay to ask this but it is not absolutely necessary. Letting the family know that you are there for support if they need anything is a great way of going about this. You can also let them know that if they need to talk, you are there when they are ready.
Everyone handles grief in different ways. I sent out a text to my closest friends and family and said that I lost my pregnancy and that I did not want to discuss it and I would open up when I was ready. I needed time to process – I did not want to hear that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t want to hear that God had a different plan and that good would come from this. I didn’t want to hear that I could try again. AND I really didn’t want to hear that it was okay. Because it wasn’t. I was not okay. I saw the baby’s heartbeat. I was told everything checked out. I was anticipating this child and had over two months to carry and bond with it. I talked about it when I was ready and I found my biggest solace in my husband and through walking.
When I experience my miscarriage, I didn’t know what I needed. Your mindset is not upon what you need in those time. In hindsight, I can look at this and know what would have helped my grieving journey. Here are a couple ways to help a family dealing with pregnancy loss that will help them to heal and accept support.
- Bring the family meals
When we experienced the loss of our pregnancy, neither my husband or I, wanted to eat. We didn’t want to think about cooking. We wanted to just be. Going out was a hard no for me – because it felt like every ounce of my soul was ripped out when I would see a baby or child and in my situation, it was worse when I saw someone who was expecting. I wanted to be at home.
By having meals brought to the family, it allows for them not to go out, not to have to think about what to cook, and it puts food on hand, so the family can at least eat. Comfort food is the best. Pregnancy and Infant loss is a birth and funeral at the same time. It also allows for those gentle reminders that you are there but they do not have to entertain. You can drop the food off and let the grieve with full stomachs.
There are many people who will have to go back to work immediately too. There are many workplaces that do not see miscarriage as a reasonable excuse for absence. By bringing in food, this allows for the family to come home and be able to just let everything go. The responsibility of cooking is gone. I was lucky that my employer at the time was very understanding of my absence but I know not everyone has the same opinion of that.
2. Help with laundry (or cleaning)
It is extremely hard to keep up on housework after a loss. For me, it is hard to keep up on housework without one. Laundry was a great way to accept help – because I was able to put everything in baskets and the laundry could either be taken to a laundromat or could be easily done with our facilities. Putting the clothes away is mindless but mustering up the energy to wash and dry was like pulling teeth. It is a little task that meant the world to me.
3. Offer to do some shopping for the family
One of the hardest things of loss was having to go out and see people with babies and who were expecting. I could look at an object and immediately breakdown or if I heard a baby cry, I would be running to my car. Offer to take over a couple shopping trips – the family can send you with cash or a gift card. It can even be a situation where they order online and you just simply pick up the order for them. I did eventually cope with that experience but it was absolutely horrible the first couple weeks – my body still thought I was pregnant, my hormones were insane, and I was no longer expecting a child. I needed time to heal before I ran back to even simple tasks such as shopping.
4. Give the gift of self-care
I had mornings where I didn’t want to get up and even brush my teeth. It is hard during those dark days to care too much about yourself; your mind is in a completely different realm. One of the most healing things I did was massage and acupuncture. If I was a pedicure person, I may have done that too but massage and acupuncture are definitely my thing. I was able to cry and release what I was feeling without having to even think about it. The acupuncture helped flush out my body and regulate my hormones but it also helped to me break down my emotions without feeling manic. The beauty about acupuncture is that it is designed to let the body to do all of the work – I don’t need a full scientific breakdown of why it works, but it does. And with massage, I was able to let my mind go blank and let someone work out all of the stress, tension, and grief that I was holding in. I am pretty sure I cried on the massage table but I was in a dark room with someone who is completely used to breakdowns (it comes with the industry) and there was absolutely no judgment passed. No questions were asked other than how is the pressure. Most places that offer these services have gift cards and this is a great way to show you care without flowers and knick-knacks that will remind them of their loss.
I know everyone who has gone through this loss has a different experience and different coping skills. That is why I keep this list short and sweet. It caters to both those who need solitude and those who need company for coping. This is a very real loss – regardless of whether you or the world understands. Be gentle with the family and show love and support and know that the pain gets better. There are no words that can provide full comfort in these situations, so sometimes the act of giving is the best way to be there.
For updates on my latest posts and mom tips – sign up for our emails!