What Your Friend Really Wants from You After Her Perinatal Loss
No one wants to think about the bad things that can happen during pregnancy or right after birth and to wonder what it would be like to have a miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal loss. However, for some families those bad things that only seem to happen to “other people” happen to them, and they need the love and support of their friends and family.
Grief can be hard – for those experiencing it and for those around us. It's hard to know what the right thing to do is – where we want to be helpful and supportive, but don't want to make a mistake or make their pain worse. When it comes to perinatal loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal loss), understanding what the griever needs can be a little more complicated.
Because those bad things make us uncomfortable. We don't want to think about how it happens to real people, not just other people. It does though and for those of us who have been through it – the isolation we feel because people don't want to talk about us leaves holes in support that we very much need.
After my miscarriages, I wanted to have someone acknowledge my loss. I wanted friends to sit with me and let me feel the grief. I didn't want them to talk it away, to justify why it may have happened, or give blanket statements about how it's all for the best or I could “try again”. I wanted my grief to be treated like we treat grief from other circumstances, but often perinatal grief isn't.
We all grieve differently so it can be difficult to know how to help after your friend has a miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal loss. My advice – when it comes to grief, offering to do something is always better than doing nothing.
I asked the community at Unspoken Grief what they really wanted from their friends after they experienced loss and here are a few great pieces of advice.
Ask about the baby
“I would like you to ask what we named him and to speak of him often with me. And please don't say he is in a better place – his place was in my arms.” – Nanna
To be silent
“Hugs and listening to me rant and cry, a lot. I found I only wanted to talk to people who had experienced it before, ones that TRULY knew what it was like.” – Kaylie
Accept my grief
“I didn't want them to say anything. I just wanted them to be ok to sit in silence and listen or be quiet with me or let me be angry or whatever the day may have brought. I also wanted them to be ok when 6 or 8 or 9 months or 2 years later I was still angry or needed to talk. I wanted them to accept my grief for what it was and is.” – Jenna
Give a hug
“I wanted a hug or a loving gesture. I wanted to talk with someone that had experienced the type of grief I was going through. Only they would know exactly what I was feeling.” – Gigi
Talk about it
“I wanted them to talk about it, so I could remind myself it actually happened, I hadn't made it up, that this wasn't some dream I could wake up from. This was my life now and I needed it to be real to more than just me.” – Kayce
For more advice on how to help your friend after miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal loss, visit UnspokenGrief.com