It’s a good question.
Before going through a miscarriage myself, I would not have known how to respond to a friend or family member facing this loss. I very likely wouldn’t have said anything, to avoid potentially hurting them. Or I may have offered some platitude that did little to alleviate their suffering, and may have actually made them feel worse.
So how do we mourn with them, how do we remember?
Here are just a few ideas. Please understand that this list is not exhaustive, nor will it apply to everyone. We are all unique, and our emotions and needs during a period of suffering will vary. This is meant, instead, to initiative some thought and discussion on ways to lovingly weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).
The loss they feel is real. And raw.
Let’s get this one out of the way first. If you haven’t suffered the loss of a pregnancy yourself, or know someone else who has, you may not realize the depth of loss that is miscarriage. It doesn’t matter if the baby was only 10 weeks in utero, or if the gender was not yet known. For the couple, that tiny cluster of cells was their child. They were already dreaming of holding that child, of rocking them to sleep, and kissing their perfect toes. The loss of that child and of those dreams is devastating. And it is real. Honour the gravity of that loss, even if you don’t understand it yourself.
If you care about their loss, you need to let them know.
I have often been guilty of caring for others from afar. Of praying for them, but not actually telling them of my concern, of my prayers. Don’t just assume that those suffering will “sense” your sentiment. You need to communicate to them that you care. Tell them you are praying.
How you go about telling them will depend on your relationship. Maybe it will be a phone call, or stopping in for a short visit. Maybe it will be more appropriate to send a note through the mail or have flowers delivered. Always respect their need for privacy and space. Try to discern what method of reaching out would be most helpful and beneficial to them, and then do it.
Mourning takes time. And it takes different shapes and forms over time.
After you have communicated your concern and love for the person in mourning, keep in mind that the coming weeks and months will require sensitivity and awareness on your part. The grieving process doesn’t have a specific timeframe, and there will be ups and downs. Be patient as they mourn, and don’t try to rush or push them along.
Eventually they will “move on.” But that doesn’t mean that they will forget. And you shouldn’t either.
While it is so important to relay your concern for a loved one in the days and weeks following a loss, it is also vital to remember their loss months and years later. Sensitivity is key here: you don’t want to upset them by bringing up painful memories, but you do want them to know that you haven’t forgotten their struggle.
Every year, my sister and I give a bouquet of flowers to our sister whose first child was stillborn. This sister has since had another child, and so the temptation might arise to forego this tradition. But her new baby does not negate the loss of her first child. A bouquet is a small way that we can remind her every year that we remember, that we love her and our brother-in-law, and that we miss the nephew we didn’t get the chance to know.
When we had a miscarriage, my dad and step-mom gave us a glass-encased flower with Matthew 19:14 engraved on the bottom, and my mom and step-dad picked out a figurine of an angel to display in our home. Whenever I see the flower or the angel, I think about the child we lost as well as my parents’ love for us.
Perhaps just saying, “I’m thinking of you today,” or sending a small note will be your way of continuing to love and care for your family member or friend years down the road.