5 Ways to Support a Friend Through Pregnancy Loss

5 Ways to Support a Friend Through Pregnancy Loss

therapy after a miscarriage, infertility counseling and postpartum depression | Arlington and McLean, VA 22202

Your friend or family member lost a baby. Maybe the loss was a miscarriage or perhaps it a stillbirth. The bottom line is that the precious infant your friend was supposed to bring home, love on and raise isn’t coming home. From the moment they accepted in their heart that this baby would be part of their family, they envisioned a cute little bundle of joy and many years of precious moments. Now, they’re grieving the loss of that child, those possibilities and the future they thought they would have.

You want to be supportive. You care about your friend. But you just don’t understand how to best support them. How long is the grief process supposed to take? Shouldn’t it hurt less since they never really met the baby? Does distracting the parents help or is it better to talk about the baby?

Here are 5 ways you can be a supportive friend during as your friend grieves the loss of their child:

Help the Parents Honor Their Infant

If the parents choose to hold any type of memorial service, attend. Your presence alone will speak volumes. On the other hand, the parents may choose not to have any type of formal service, particularly if the miscarriage was early in pregnancy. In this case, your friend may need to find another way to honor their infant and memorialize the baby they never got to meet. This might include choosing a special piece of jewelry, getting a tattoo, or writing a letter to the baby. Ask the parents if there is a special way they want to acknowledge their baby and how you can help make that happen.

Listen to the Grieving Parents

Counseling for pregnancy loss including miscarriage | Women's Counseling | Arlington, VA near Washington DCWhile some parents may choose to be private in their grief, many parents want to talk about their miscarriage or stillbirth. If the mom (or dad) you are speaking to wants to talk about their feelings, listen.  Let them talk about what happened. They may even need to tell their story more than once. This is ok. In fact, it’s healthy. You may feel uncomfortable with their pain, but just by actively listening to and acknowledging their feelings you are helping.

It may be difficult for you to understand the pain the mother is going through. You never had the chance to meet the baby, so it may feel like the baby was more of a dream than a reality. For the mother who carried the baby inside her, though, this baby was as real as you and I are. From the moment the mother began to imagine a life with that child, she felt a connection.

Even a mom who didn’t initially try to get pregnant, the loss of a miscarriage or stillbirth can be intense. Maybe the pregnancy was a surprise or they even thought about an abortion. It still may hurt very deeply to lose the child, because once they started to envision a life with that child it became real and had a home in their heart.

So, even if you don’t understand the depth of your friend’s pain, know that it is normal. Most importantly, listen to their unique experience with an open heart.

Use The Baby’s Name

When a child dies adults often hesitate to bring it up or use the child’s name. However, many parents find it really comforting to hear their child’s name spoken aloud. In fact, for many parents it’s validating that their child really did exist and really did matter. Therefore, ask parents if it’s okay to use the baby’s name and if they say it is, refer to the baby by name whenever possible in conversation. Even if the loss was a miscarriage early in pregnancy, you may still ask if the parents chose to name the baby.

Watch How You Talk About the Miscarriage or Stillbirth

Be simple, honest, and comforting with your statements. There are many things well meaning loved ones say to grieving parents after a miscarriage or still birth that actually end up being upsetting for the parents. Do not say, “You’ll get over it in time,” “It’s for the best,” “You can always have another baby,” or “Count your blessings.” While you mean well, these statements can leave a grieving mom to feel like you don’t understand her pain. It’s almost like you’re saying the child who already meant so much to her didn’t really matter.

Instead say, “I’m here if you want to talk about it,” or, “Losing someone you love hurts no matter how short of time they were in your life.” Or perhaps, “Tell me about the dreams you had for this baby.” Even saying, “I want to help but I just don’t know what to say right now. Just know that I’m here for you.”

Be Patient With Moms Who Have Lost an Infant

Everyone has a different journey with grief. When it comes to a miscarriage or stillbirth, everybody grieves at their own pace. It’s common for friends and family to begin to move on relatively quickly. After all, the infant hadn’t yet made much of an impact on your life. It’s also common that one parent moves on more quickly than the other.

Know that it’s common for it to take one parent, often the mother who was carrying the baby, longer to “move on” after a loss. They may experience a thousand different emotions. In fact, how they feel about the miscarriage, getting pregnant again or their family as a whole may change from day to day.

Try to be patient with the ups and downs the parent might be feeling. Know that it’s normal and ok for their grief to be deep. In fact, it’s healthy for them to express their pain through tears or talking about the baby.

Counseling for Pregnancy Loss in Northern Virginia

Counseling for Pregnancy Loss | Miscarriage Support | Counseling for Women | Arlington, VA 22202There is no timeline for grief and there is no “normal” when it comes to grieving. Each parent’s experience and road to healing after a miscarriage or stillbirth is unique. However, it is often helpful to talk about the loss with a mental health professional and have the support of a therapist who can guide you through the grief process.

If you or a loved on is interested in counseling following the loss of a baby, the caring therapists of Postpartum Wellness are here to support you. Our McLean, VA women’s counseling center has skilled therapists who specialize in counseling for women and parents including after a miscarriage or stillbirth. We serve clients in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC area.

Beginning Counseling at Postpartum Wellness

It may feel like a giant step to reach out and ask for help, but we make the process as easy as possible. To begin counseling for pregnancy loss or any other issue just follow these steps:

  1. Contact Postpartum Wellness to schedule an intake counseling session
  2. Meet with a caring therapist
  3. Begin the journey through grief toward healing

Nothing can ever replace the baby you lost. But it is possible to move forward, feel happy and make decisions about the future of your family. You deserve support through that process and we can help.

Photo of woman making a heart out of hands | Counseling for Women | Pregnancy Loss & Miscarriage Help | Arlington, VA 22202. Counseling can help mom's express their love for their baby, accept the loss and begin to look forward again with hope.

Other Mental Health Services for Women & Parents

At our Northern Virginia counseling offices, we help all women live happy, healthy lives. Our skilled therapists care about what matters most to you. We offer a variety of services. Including counseling for postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety treatment, and supportive counseling during infertility. We also help women find healing after traumatic births as well as helping moms on bed rest or who are stressed during a high-risk pregnancy. You are not alone in this journey. Contact us today to begin counseling and move toward healing.

 

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