After suffering a miscarriage, deciding on which friends or family to confide in will come naturally to you. Although you may want to keep the extent of your heartbreak between you and your partner, we all need someone to talk to outside of that bubble. However, everyone tackles miscarriage differently and while they are most likely doing everything they can to help, their current life stage (they may be pregnant or have children) or lack of personal experience may result in their reaction not being the one you wanted. A lack of understanding or advice you see as insensitive can make you feel sad, isolated, and at times, stupid. Here’s how to handle those friendships and any reactions you might encounter following your miscarriage.
Take a break from children and pregnant friends
Going through a miscarriage is a traumatic event and it can take a long time until you feel ready to spend time with your pregnant friends or their children. After all, it’s difficult not to see it as a reminder of what you’ve just been through. If you feel comfortable enough, let these friends know you need some time out for a while. Being honest with them about how you feel could even make your friendship stronger. In the meantime, it may help to confide in your partner or friends who are not pregnant or parents. Talking to them will help them understand what you are going through, and serve as a helpful recovery step.
Coping with friends’ pregnancy news after a miscarriage
When you feel ready to spend more time with your pregnant friends, it’s important to remember it is completely normal to have upsetting feelings. When friends share their pregnancy news, it can feel as if they are being unintentionally insensitive which is hard to deal with. ‘It is important to be proactive about addressing these emotions,’ says Dr Geetha Venkat, Director of Harley Street Fertility Clinic. ‘Chatting to a counsellor can help as it will allow you to talk about your feelings openly.’
Be patient with yourself
Being patient and allowing yourself the time to accept that you have gone through a miscarriage and all the feelings it brought, will help you move forward. Whatever you do, don’t add guilt about your feelings to everything else. It is normal if your immediate reactions to pregnancy and baby news are not jumping for joy. Acknowledging these feelings means ‘owning’ them, and acceptance. You will then be able to be around pregnancy and babies without these feelings, again.
Common reactions to miscarriage and how to deal with them
“You’ll get pregnant again soon.”
Your instincts are shouting “How do you know?”, but try to recognise your friend’s positivity and explain that you want to spend time moving on from this baby before you try for another. She will then understand that with miscarriage comes an important grieving process and begin finding other support methods that you may find more helpful.
“I’ve been researching miscarriage and it’s really common”.
While this is intended to make you feel less alone, you would rather be part of a different club. “Be comforted by the fact that your friend has taken the time to research this for you,” advises Susie Gower, fertility mentor and founder of becomingamama.com. “Ask her if she came across any forums or local groups that might be useful so you can chat to other women in your position.”
“Thank goodness you hadn’t felt a kick yet.”
No matter how big or small, you felt your baby emotionally or physically. “It’s hard if you haven’t been through miscarriage to understand an intangible loss,” explains Susie. “Acknowledge the fact that your friend is listening and trying to support you in her own way.” There’s no shame in grieving an unborn baby; “You need to release that emotion in order to move on,” Susie says. “The memory will never go away but how you react to it will change if you let yourself mourn.”
“At least you don’t have morning sickness anymore.”
No matter how kind your friend’s intentions, you’d give anything to feel even the worst pregnancy symptoms right now. During the grieving process, keep a healthy distance from friends and family who are expecting or have young babies. Be honest with them and say that in order to recover, you need to dedicate some time to yourself and your partner.
“I had two miscarriages before having my baby.”
While your happy ending feels like a million miles away, take your friend’s success story as a sign of hope that one day you too will be in her position. Use it as something to aim for and don’t be afraid to ask her about the key things that helped her cope. It will mean more coming from a friend who has been there.
Miscarriage sympathy cards
It can be hard to know what to do or say when a loved one has been through a miscarriage. While when someone loses a relative due to illness or old age, you might send them a sympathy card and flowers, the loss of a baby is very different kind of loss, which is why The Miscarriage Association says it teamed up with the Card Factory to help break the taboo of pregnancy loss.
The card displays the message: "There is no good card for this. I'm so sorry for the loss of your baby", in the handwriting of someone who has been through miscarriage herself.
A 10 per cent donation from each £3.29 card sold will go to aid the charity's work.
Miscarriage Association national director Ruth Bender Atik said: "People worry about saying the wrong thing so often so say nothing at all, which can leave those experiencing the loss feeling very alone.
"This card provides simple words that can make a real difference. And having a miscarriage card sit alongside those for other types of bereavement is a really important step in raising awareness of the impact of pregnancy loss."
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