Over the last few months I’ve had more than a handful of conversations with people where they say they just don’t know what to say or do when their friends are going through hard things. When people are hurting, it’s so awkward. I totally get it. Those conversations plus going through a major loss has made me want to help all the people out. Because this is the stuff of real life. So, we’re doing a blog series up in here and we’re calling it “When Your Friends Are Hurting.” I’ve invited some good people to share their stories and words of advice with you. They’ve all been in the trenches at some point for different reasons. They’ve also all come out of the trenches alive. They have some crazy good things to say. Y’all listen up.
Hi everyone! 🙂 My name is Savannah, and my husband and I miscarried our first pregnancy. Courtney contacted me awhile back asking if I’d be willing to share some of our story and provide advice/guidance on ways to help others when they experience a lost pregnancy. So here goes…
We found out we were pregnant at the beginning of December, 2012. Best Christmas present ever!! After 8 months of anxiously waiting for that positive test, we got FOUR! Just in case the first one was wrong… and the second, and the third. Our first appointment was scheduled for a few weeks later, and all went smoothly. They measured the baby, and we got to hear the heartbeat. I still have the recording on my phone. We named our teeny tiny little baby Peep, and we prayed for a healthy baby.
On December 22, two days after our perfect appointment, we gave Peep back to Jesus. We absolutely didn’t want to. My husband rushed to L&D after I call him hysterical because there’s blood. I have not one, not two, but three OBGYN’s exam me just trying to give us something to hope for. We’re left crying in the elevator on the way back to our car, because ultimately, our baby is gone. It sucks when you don’t have a choice in these moments, doesn’t it? When you feel like your world is falling out from under you, spinning around you, and all you can do is watch. You didn’t give your permission. It’s just happening. You want to throw up.
The days that follow are a blur. It was three days before Christmas. How much crummier can it get? Our perfect, precious, wanted Christmas present, gone. And all we’re left with is pain. Physical for me, emotional for us. The day we found out we were miscarrying we opened Christmas presents. We wanted to have something enjoyable about that day. Something to take our minds off of it. I absolutely just wanted to skip Christmas that year. Being surrounded by 50+ family members almost did me in. They had the best of intentions, but it was overwhelming. I just wanted to lay on my bed and cry.
One of my employees sent me flowers. The day we miscarried, flowers showed up on my door. I was overcome by the thoughtfulness of her gesture, and I appreciated it so much. She showed me love.
The day after Christmas, we took off to San Antonio, and it was the BEST THING WE EVER DID. When you’re grieving, I 100% suggest getting away. Whatever that means to you—whether that’s going to the park or going to Hawaii. Allow yourself a few days, and then get out of the house. Our miscarriage was the lowest point of my life, but I remember our weekend getaway with the best, most loving memories. We mourned. We laughed. We cried. We celebrated life. We just were. We lived in the moment. We embraced the ugly crap we were going through and we enjoyed starting the healing process together.
Right when I was starting to feel more like myself, I found out two of my family members were pregnant, due one day apart and in the same month I would have been due. And I was back at square one. I felt selfish for hurting. How is it even possible for me to be happy for them while I’m dealing with all this pain? I tell you this, the best words anyone ever said to me were: It is OK for you to be happy for others while still grieving for yourself. You are not a bad person for your grief. I repeat: You are not a bad person for your grief.
One great piece of advice we were given was to do something together to remember our baby. So we did. On Peep’s due date, we bought cookie cake and ice cream. We’ll do this every year. It provides us healing while also opening back up our hearts to feel for that baby. For us, that baby deserves one day a year to be remembered, celebrated, and mourned for. Maybe for someone else that means getting a tattoo or buying a birthstone.
For those on the outside:
Woah. Some phrases are just big fat doozies. If you know someone who has miscarried, for the love of all that’s good, please refrain from the following:
“At least you know you can get pregnant.” Don’t say this. For a woman who has no children and just had a miscarriage, knowing she can get pregnant may ease one fear, but her new fear is can she stay pregnant.
“These things happen for a reason.” Well, thank you very much for making me feel 0% better.
“You’re strong. You’ll get through this.” I may be strong, and you may mean this as a compliment. But now I feel like I can’t be weak in front of you, because you expect strength. Maybe I want to have a big, fat, ugly cry fest. You need to let me. Then take me out for ice cream.
“At least you weren’t that far along.” I admit, now that I have my son, if we were to lose him I would grieve for him in a different, even deeper way than I did Peep. But it doesn’t matter if you’ve been pregnant 5 minutes or 5 months. The second you find out you are pregnant, your heart opens in a way you cannot describe. Please do not minimalize my pain in this way.
What can you do?
How about this instead: “What you’re going through totally sucks. I’m bringing you dinner, and I’m leaving it on your front porch.”
Or some variation of that. Show love. Isn’t it much more powerful that way, anyway?
The most wonderful thing my best friend did was treat me like normal. She loved me like she’s always loved me. She told me she was grieving with me, but she didn’t ask how I was every single day. When I wanted to bring it up, she listened. When I didn’t, she texted me about all the other day to day things we randomly talk about. I wasn’t someone to pity in her eyes. I was her best friend going through a hard time who needed a sense of normalcy. She felt that, and she acted normal. She didn’t blow the situation off. She didn’t act like it never happened. But she loved me the same.
If you know someone going through a miscarriage (besides the obvious of praying for them), love them. Don’t pity them. Don’t say a bunch of cliché things just because you don’t know what to say. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. Send them flowers. Leave dinner on their doorstep. Drop a Starbucks card in the mail. Clean their house one day while they’re at work. If the couple has children, volunteer to watch their kids for an evening so they can go out on a date.
Be a light in their darkness. They will remember your good actions and they will remember your bad words.
For those going through it:
If you’re experiencing the loss of a baby, I encourage you to also think about the others who may be grieving with you. It is not their direct loss, but those that love you are hurting with you. What about the woman who cannot get pregnant? How does her grief look when she is hurting for herself and you? What about the first-time grandma who is hurting for the loss of her grandchild AND the pain of her daughter? She’s the mom who wants to make it all better but can’t. Please do not be afraid to grieve with these people. There is healing in that.
Special thank you to Courtney for asking me to share my heart with you, and please feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A HUGE thank you to Savannah for being willing to share their story. So many good things. If you’ve been through a miscarriage, do you have anything else to add?