Please be aware before reading this that there is discussion of pregnancy loss. Laura shares a high view of her personal story, and then gives suggestions on how to (and not to) support someone you know going through pregnancy loss.
Written by Laura Loach
When we set out to get pregnant in early 2021, we could have never expected the two miscarriages that would soon come. I knew it was common, I just remember saying “I’m 24, I’m taking all my supplements, working out, doing all of the right things...we will be good” and sort of just brushing off the idea that pregnancy loss could happen to us.
I mean, who wants to focus on that when you are just so excited to have gotten your first positive pregnancy test. What a feeling.
My first miscarriage happened in mid-June at 6 weeks. We were heartbroken and just wanted to try again, leading to our second pregnancy, identical twins, this time we got the heartbreaking news at our 9-week check-up.
Both miscarriages hit me so hard. I just couldn’t believe it and I certainly couldn’t handle the thought of just returning to “my old life”; I needed to share. I needed support, so I reached out, and I am so happy I did.
Not every conversation held the comfort I was looking for, but a supportive community did form and I needed it.
So in honour of all the conversations I have had since both pregnancy losses I wanted to share some dos and don’ts when offering support or advice to a loved one who has suffered pregnancy loss.
Let's start with things to avoid saying:
1. Please no silver linings.
Nothing stings more than having to sit there and listen to someone pull “positives” from such a dark situation. It's normal to want to do so, but you have to fight that urge and instead just hold space. There is certainly nothing you can point out that the grieving parent has not already thought of. I got a lot of “well at least you can get pregnant.” And I just never knew what to do with that: those words didn’t ease my pain at all.
When you hold space you do simply that: you do not try to fix the situation, you instead lend a bit of your time and energy to create a safe space for their emotions so you can actually hear how you can help. When friends or even strangers held space for me vs. when they tried to help but listed off silver linings instead, it was a night and day difference to how I would feel after the conversation.
2. Telling someone it's common doesn’t help in this time.
This is a big one for me, it's the thing that has been said most to me by strangers, family, friends I’ve even caught myself whispering it sometimes, but my goodness does it ever NOT help. Imagine getting in an awful car accident, you open your eyes at the hospital and the first words you hear are “I’m so sorry this happened to you but did you know car accidents are very common?”
I'm not sure how this happened, how we discuss miscarriage so little that this is the most common response I heard...it baffles me. I’m going to save you some time here, most women who miscarry know it's common and that information provides no comfort and can be diminishing to the loss. When people die, we don’t tell their surviving family members that death is common and I think the same logic should be applied here.
3. Don’t fall off the radar, keep checking in.
Like any loss, we all handle the grief differently, but from my experience both times I went inward. I am a very social person normally, but this past year knocked me down in ways I could have never expected...and the friends and family who checked in on me, well they really would make my day. So it may take setting some reminders on your phone because your friend who just went through this loss may not be good at reaching out. But you still can and I encourage you to do so and to just hold the space I talked about. If you're not sure how someone prefers to be supported, shooting them a text or calling (if they're comfortable with calls) is always a great start, and offering your presence - but always let them decide on how much is okay each day.
Now for a few DOs
After all, having support in such a difficult time is so important, and it can help in so many different ways.
1. Hold the space and just listen.
You don’t need to have personally felt this pain to hold space, we all know how it feels to lose something or someone we love. Heartbreak is the only way I could describe the emotional pain, and I think we can all relate to that. Asking, "How can I be there for you?" is a good start, telling them that you are here for them no matter how they feel, that their feelings are valid should be heard. Hold this space for them and you really in a sense are doing everything you can.
2. Help with the little stuff.
If you know the person well you can take the lead and just do something for them you know they need. Like offering to help clean, make food, or do some running around for them. Often times it's the small day-to-day things that can build up and can mean so much when someone extra shows up to carry the load.
For me it was all about the food, having a friend bring me soup the day of the D&C made me cry because I just felt so supported. Even though I was a shell of myself, it meant so much.
3. Do your own research.
This is something small you can do for yourself and your loved ones. You can go a learn more about miscarriage, the odds, how to help (yay for reading this article!), and how to better hold space - because that’s a skill we can all use more in everyday life. It's not up to the women who just went through losses to explain the severity of the situation. You can learn more and show up - not with facts, but a better understanding of what your fellow human is going through.
If you're looking for ways to support yourself or your partner through miscarriage, feel free to skim through Tempdrop's article with 14 ways to support yourself through miscarriage. But also feel free to reframe my suggestions to point them toward yourself - talk to one person each day even if it's a simple 3-text exchange, remember it's okay to make this experience yours and acknowledge your hard feelings, don't worry about the little stuff especially if you're already overwhelmed, and most importantly feel free to grieve however feels appropriate to you.
If you'd like to connect with me or learn more about my personal journey, I've chosen share my journey on Instagram @laura.loach