Even though pregnancy and infant loss now has its own awareness month, and more women are becoming outspoken on their loss, miscarriages still tend to be something that is taboo to talk about. Because of this, many women are reluctant to share their loss as it’s occurring. I have found that the women (such as myself) are able to be more candid about their loss(es) afterwards than during. I know that I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone, so I would suffer the miscarriage alone.
I realized when I was helping a friend through a miscarriage, that we should be more outspoken about it. She is someone who has never shied away from asking for help, but that vulnerability is something that we should all feel okay about showing. We shouldn’t feel scared or shamed to ask for help. We should not have to suffer these losses alone.
I also know that loss in general is a hard topic to talk about, and our first instinct is to offer our condolences and then kind of move along. Part of encouraging women to be more open with their losses and to feel supported during those times is to know how you can help a friend, loved one, or family member through a loss.
I pulled together a list of things that you can use when helping someone through a loss or after the loss. Obviously, everyone is different and this list is not a one size fits all, but it can be a good starting point.
Flowers & Plants
When I had one of my last losses, it made my day when a group of my friends sent me the most beautiful bouquet of sunflowers. Every time I saw that vase of flowers, it brought the smallest smile to my face, and it reminded me that I was thought of and loved. It was the smallest gesture, but it meant everything. Like I said before, not everything on this list works for everyone. For some, flowers will not work as cut flowers do eventually die, and that may the last thing that someone really wants to be seeing on top of everything else. In this case, it may be better to give a potted plant that will continue on with care. I’ve also heard of friends being given a tree to plant in the baby’s memory, which can also be a very thoughtful alternative to cut flowers.
One of the most important things that someone can do while grieving is to make sure that they taking care of themselves. It often is the last thing that many of us who are experiencing a loss are actually remembering to do. Self-care gifts can be a great way to remind your friend to take care of themselves. They can be items as simple as bath bombs, candles, fancy water cups with the straw. Bringing over some meals, offering to help with cleaning or laundry (if you are close enough to offer something like), offering child or pet care can also so incredibly helpful and thoughtful.
If your friend or loved one is someone who wears jewelry, something like a memory necklace may be a great way to go. If you know they the kind of person who wants that tangible reminder to carry with them, there are so many options out there for memory jewelry. It can even be something as simple as a piece of jewelry that includes the birthstone of the baby. Again, some people do not like the physical reminder of their loss, so this is very much a case by case basis.
Donating to a charity in the name of your friend or the baby may be another meaningful way to show them that you are there for them. Acknowledging the loss and also supporting a cause that is near and dear to your loved one could be a supportive way to go. Especially if they are the type of person who is always saying that they don’t want physical items or gifts. This can show that you are thinking of them, even without something physical to give or send.
Gifts from the Heart
I have heard from other friends that have suffered losses, that sometimes it was what seemed like the most random gift that meant the most. One friend had a set of windchimes that she was given during one of her miscarriages and the tinkle of that sound reminds her of that baby and the love she had for it. Another was given a glass hummingbird and now when she sees hummingbirds out in the wild or in other spaces, she is instantly comforted and reminded of her little one.
The Gift of You
The greatest gift that you may be able to give to someone who is having a loss is yourself. Being there to listen, to watch movies with them, to just be with them may be exactly what they need. For me, having someone to listen to me cry and talk about the baby, my hopes and dreams for that pregnancy, meant so incredibly much to me. It made me not feel so alone in the world. I think that just showing others that you are the type of person that will listen, not judge will help break the stigma of not talking about these losses.
A miscarriage can be a very harrowing and lonely time. Doing any of these things, even as simple as some of them are, can be everything to a person suffering a loss.
October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. If you or a friend would like to add a baby’s name to our Forever Loved Remembrance Wall, please send an email to [email protected]
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