So it’s a month on, pretty much, since I miscarried. Been a bit of a tumultous one, both emotionally and physically, but i think I’m slowly beginning to feel like I’m on a bit more of an even keel. The tears and heartache still come, but it’s a lot easier to deal with.
Since I blogged about it, a lot of people have asked me how they can help their friends and loved ones facing a miscarriage. The thing is, the only thing I’m an expert on is ME, so what helped me might be completely disastrous for somebody else. That having been said, here are a few things that really have helped me…
1. Acknowledge the loss.
Whatever the circumstances, stage of pregnancy, etc, miscarriage is a real loss. For me, anyay, not only is it about mourning the child lost, which I felt I’d already had a level of bonding with, but the loss of the hopes and dreams and plans that went with being pregnant. I’d already started thinking about names, imagining what Isaac would say – oh, I don’t know, all that stuff. Add to that the insanity of hormones after miscarriage and it can feel like the bottom has very much dropped out of the uniververse. The most helpful people were those that acknowledged that, and didn’t try to make it better but just stood in the dark with me. Comments like “at least it was early” or “at least you have Isaac” just felt like a dagger. Both are true, but both made me feel guilty for grieving. Never, ever a good thing.
2. Don’t be afraid to share the joy, too.
In the last month, three friends have announced their pregnancies, and another one has given birth to her beautiful second son. Two of the three are pregnant after years of struggle with infertility. And of course, I’m human, so there’s pain and – not jealousy, quite, but wistfulness – a wishing it was me, too. But there’s also joy and excitement and wonder, and I’d hate to think that anyone felt they couldn’t share with me because I’d be upset. It might be appropriate to be sensitive as to how you communicate things, especially if it’s to do with pregnancy or anything like that – both friends told me a little earlier than they made public announcements, which really heped to give me the time to process my emotions a little – but joy and hope are an essential part of grieving too – a reminder that even in the darkest times, beauty can be found.
3. Sometimes the most unusual things help!
I have a colleague at work that I get on really well with. As a bloke in a very female environment, he claims to not be able to do the emotional stuff. When I told him what had happened, he went to buy me a coke – my addiction to this particular beverage is well known in my workplace. You know the way coke has names of the cans or bottles at the moment? Jonathan went hunting for one in particular (he tried three shops!) – one that said “mum” on it. I’d been feeling like such a mum failure – a failure to Isaac, because my brain really wasn’t engaging with him, and a failure to our unborn baby, because my body hadn’t been able to carry him to full term. Here’s the thing – neither of those are true. I’m not a failure – I’m a mum. And I’m human, so that means mistakes, but it also means I’m bloody awesome. Just a can of coke, with a real impact. Don’t be afraid of the actions that seem silly. You’d be surprised.
4. It’s ok not to know the words.
Sometimes when people we love are hurting, there’s a tendancy to try and make it all better. And actually, for me, there was nothing that oculd make it better except time. Sometimes less words are better. It’s enough to know people love you and they care. It makes you feel a lot less lonely.
5. Keep in touch
A miscarriage is mentally and pysically shattering, and it’s really important to rest and take time with your family, who are also grieving. The miscarriage not only affected me, but Sam and Isaac too – even Isaac felt sad about it – he wanted a baby brother right here, not with Jesus! And for me, even though I was fairly public about it on the lbog and on facebook, my real interactions with people were quite limited. And that was good in some ways, but also felt a little lonely. My friends Becky and Dot in particular were amazing. They were in contact lamost every day – not expecting a great long response, but just checking in and letting me know they cared. Sometimes they got long responses – sometimes very little. But knowing they were there made a massive difference. Other friends who shared their own experiences were amazing too – not judging me for my reactions, not expecting me to think or feel like them, just letting me know they understood and they cared. Priceless.
So as I said, that’s what helped me, and it might be really different for other people. Maybe that’s the last point – know that everyone is different, and will deal with things in different ways. Encourage your friend to tell you, if she can, what might help – whether it’s a hug, a listening ear, or just some distraction!