Supporting Yourself (Or A Friend) Through Miscarriage
Miscarriage may be the most tragic or traumatic loss you have faced thus far. You might feel resentful or depressed; you may be struggling with your faith or in your marriage. You likely do not want to hear anyone else’s opinion on your situation or your grief. But you still have to interact with others and go about your daily life.
Well-meaning friends and family with deep faith and best intentions may urge you to trust God’s plan, offer it up, or remember that God is still good. While each of these truths may eventually help in your healing, you may not be ready to hear them where you are today. How can you handle unintentionally hurtful statements that people make while trying to offer comfort?
All of us have struggled to find the words to speak to someone after their loved one has died. It is difficult for people to see another in pain, especially someone they love. So it is understandable that those around you may want to move you toward resolution. Grief makes many uncomfortable. They may urge you to “get over it” or “move on.” Criticisms of grief tend to fall on either end of the spectrum: either you are grieving too much (too publicly or too long) or you are not grieving enough (too stoic or too withdrawn). But mourning has no fixed timeline, and grief is not a problem to be solved; it is a natural response to loss, born out of love.
This chapter will explore the pain and the power of talking about miscarriage with family and friends. Many couples eventually experience a moment of connection or comfort in sharing about their loss, even with a stranger. They often describe being surprised by stories of miscarriage or loss from relatives or friends. This consolation can be a way that God works through our sufferings to bring about encouragement for us and for others.
Suggestions for dealing with others
- Take care of yourself.
In the early days after miscarriage, you need to tend to your own grief more than worrying about others’ feelings. Remember that the way you feel today is not the way you will feel forever. Emotions, even the most intense responses of grief, are never permanent. As time goes on, you may find that you are able to grow in generosity toward others’ words or actions. God will be at work in your heart in ways that you cannot see or understand right now. But caring for yourself is a loving act, too.
- Guard your heart.
You do not need to share your grief with anyone. Grief is intensely personal, and you may wish to grieve privately. A key question to ask yourself, especially in conversation with strangers, is “What part of my story do I want to share with this person, at this time?” The answer may vary from day to day or situation to situation. You may find that opening up to a friend or stranger can bring an unexpected and healing connection. But you also don’t need to tell your whole history to everyone who asks how many kids you have.
- Prepare in advance.
Practice how you might respond to common questions (“How many kids do you have?” “Weren’t you pregnant?” “Are you trying again?”). Ask your spouse how they respond to these questions. Consider answers that are honest about your own experience and compassionate toward the other person. But know that you don’t have to stick to the same script every time. Give yourself permission to change your mind in the moment or to excuse yourself and leave a difficult situation.
- Practice forgiveness.
Pray for a merciful heart. There may always be words that sting. Ultimately, we cannot fault others entirely if their responses are hurtful, because only God’s love can be perfect. Remember that people are rarely trying to be intentionally cruel or insensitive. As time goes on, your resilience can deepen toward people’s unintentionally hurtful words, and you may grow in your compassion for others who are grieving so that you can minister to them out of your experience.
Excerpt from Grieving Together: A Couple’s Journey through Miscarriage by Laura Kelly Fanucci and Franco David Fanucci. Copyright © 2018. Used with author’s permission.
Want a free resource on how to support parents who have lost a child? CLICK HERE for a free excerpt from Grieving Together.
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Laura Kelly Fanucci is an author, speaker, and founder of Mothering Spirit, where she first started writing about parenting and spirituality in 2010. She earned her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and her Master of Divinity from Saint John’s School of Theology. Laura has authored seven books, including Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting and Grieving Together: A Couple’s Journey through Miscarriage.
Laura’s work has been featured on the Hallow and Ritual apps, and in popular outlets including NPR’s Morning Edition, On Being, and the Kelly Clarkson Show. She writes frequently for online and print publications including Catholic News Service, Grotto Network, and Give Us This Day. She and her husband live in Minnesota with their children.
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