Oh, man. This is a hard conversation – for both parties. I have had this happen in the best of ways & in the worst of ways, and thought it might be helpful to share some insight on what IS helpful.
(If you would like to read more on our journey to start a family, you can here.)
(Disclaimer: I can only speak for myself. Everyone is different & everyone handles their emotions differently – especially emotions as deep & real as grief. I understand that & respect that completely. This advice is based on my own emotions & experiences I can only share what has or has not been helpful to me. My hope is to offer insight to those who have not experience this form of grief, and reassurance to those who have.)
First things first, I want to speak to those of you who have not miscarried:
When telling a miscarried mama that you are expecting – it doesn’t matter how you say it or what you say, it is going to hurt. That’s the reality of the situation & something that everyone involved needs to acknowledge. It’s not your fault that it hurts her. It just does. While there is joy, there is also pain. I think it’s helpful for you to realize that it doesn’t always matter the what, how or when, it’s going to be a painful conversation.
Now, just because it is painful does not mean that you don’t share your joy. I have had friends hide their pregnancy from me for longer than they wanted & while I do understand why they did it, it hurt. I encourage you to TELL you friends, don’t hide it. Tell them from a place of understanding & love.
I have had friends call me, text me, email me, tell me in person, not tell me until I see it on Facebook … you name it, they’ve done it. And while it ultimately depends on your relationship, I have some suggestions based on what has been helpful for me.
Here’s the other reality, a miscarried mama is going to feel a plethora of emotions when you tell her. She’s going to be happy, sad, mad & excited, among other things. More than likely, she will also feel guilty – guilty for being sad & mad along with happy. She’s going to ask all the “what-if’s” & it will reopen a very deep wound. Unfortunately, whenever the wound re-opens it hurts a little bit more. (Remember, this is not YOUR fault. This is the reality of the situation). Every single time a friend has told me they are expecting, I have cried. Sometimes I cry more, sometimes I cry less. But it reopens the hurt of what would have been and naturally makes me question why her, not me?
It’s because of all of that, because of the hurt that naturally occupancies the joy, that I encourage you to tell her in a space that allows her to feel HOWEVER she will feel. A few friends have emailed me to share their news with me & you know what? That was the very best thing they could do. An email, you say? Isn’t that cold & heartless? No, actually, it was perfect. They emailed me & told me from a place of love & empathy. They respected me enough to know it would be hard, and wanted me to have space & privacy to feel however I felt. It allowed me to cry & sometimes stomp my feet at the world … and then reach out to them after I had a better handle on my emotions.
I have told my friends who are expected that I want to hear about it all. I want to hear about morning sickness & ultrasounds & nursery decor. I want to be their friend, and part of me desperately wants to ignore the prick on my heart & feel normal again. But sometimes it IS hard to talk about it. Sometimes I don’t want to see another post on Facebook about late night cravings or baby name ideas. It’s not you, it’s me. Honest to goodness, it’s ME. Don’t stop sharing your joy, but be aware that when you’re with a miscarried mama she might need a bit more empathy. Baby shower invitations, the Target baby section, diaper commercials … some days it’s the smallest trigger that makes the world stop turning. Be aware of your friend. Be there for her. Pray for her. She needs you.
Now, for those of you who have miscarried:
Oh, friend. I want to give you permission to feel everything you feel. Everything. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, I know it is. There are days when I am completely fine & then one thing so small happens that throws me off. Give yourself grace for that. Feel it. Your new normal is hard but it is your new normal. What-if-ing is natural, and while sometimes it is necessary, it can also be destructive. Don’t let it. Don’t let it control your heart.
When talking with friends who have not miscarried, remember that they have not been in your shoes. They truly don’t know what it feels like. Did you know before it happened to you? They will try to understand & to love you through the pain. Be patient with them. TELL them what you need & how you feel. Sometimes when a friend asks me how I am doing, I say “Not today. I can’t talk about it today.”. I have to express what I need, even if I don’t always know what I need. I have declined baby shower invitations, avoided certain people on social media & changed the channel quickly when I heard the sound of a baby laughing. Other days, I can watch that commercial, see that post on Facebook, attend the shower & all is well. We don’t always KNOW how we will feel & while that sucks (there’s no better word to use), it IS the new normal. We have to learn to communicate. We have to learn to SAY how we feel – every messy bit – so that our friends & loved ones can give us what we need.
Be understanding of the situation they are in – of how much they love you & hate to see you hurting. They feel guilty too, I’m sure. Guilty you are walking this journey & they are expecting. Guilty that they never felt the loss you do & have 2 healthy babies. Guilty they have caused you pain by sharing their joy with you. Understand that. Respect that. I believe your relationship will only grow stronger because of it.
Miscarriage is the deepest pain I have ever experienced. And it’s one of the hardest things for a woman to navigate through in her own heart, let alone within the realm of marriage & friendships. I know this post might not be spot-on for every mama who has miscarried, but I hope it sheds some light on what has helped me. My hope is that it also reminds those of you who have felt or do feel these feelings that you are not alone.
Graphic via The Morning