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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

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I lost a pregnancy at 7.5 weeks. At the time - I was devastated and nothing - nothing! - make me feel any better. Alot of it was hormones. Alot of it wasemotions: one day feeling very very special and the next: like I was the opposite of special.

What didn't make me feel better - people telling me it was for the best, since something must have been wrong with it, that at least I *could* get pregnant, or just not calling me at all. I don't recall anyone being preachy, intentionally or not.

Even if you haven't experienced exactly what she is going through, you can appreciate that she is in pain. You can validate her feelings. You can just listen.

I was just numb at first. A week after my miscarriage I insisted on going to a business convention in Chicago. My husband called from home to tell me my sisterinlaw had just announced her pregnancy -with the same due date. I lost it holding a cell phone in a store on Michgan Avenue. My best friend listened to me cry for an hour over the phone and told me that she understood how I felt, and that it was okay to be sad and angry. She was pregnant at the time, after a long, fustrating infertility.

But she remembered the pain I was feeling and acknowledged it. And she was really the only one. But I started feeling a little better from that point on.

After that I had exactly one horrible period and then a new (and successful!) pregnancy. The back of my hand to waiting three months! Living in the "14 day universe" is torture enough. But maybe I'll tell that story some other time.

Sorry so long!

Well, we found out our daughter had a terminal birth defect at 20 weeks. The most painful thing my husband said was "Well at least we found out now before I got too attached to her" I was attached to her!! And of course, he was too, and was just as sad when she died.

I appreciated people just telling me that they were sorry, that they'd pray for us, and that they were there for us if we needed anything.

There just aren't words when you're experiencing the loss of your baby at any stage.

Well, as long as you don't say any of the Dumb Stuff, you should be safe. ;) Seriously, I would just say to follow her lead. If she needs to talk, listen. People process miscarriage so differently, so of course there's no one magic thing you can say to make her feel better, except that you care and want to be there for her, if and when she needs you.

I've never experienced a miscarriage, but I have to agree with everyone else here--I think sometimes just lending an ear is all that's needed. I heard it described once as "the ministry of presence." I think the best thing you can do is to make yourself available and be a safe place for her to talk about her feelings.

I think after I had my miscarriage, the hardest thing was that it seemed like people quickly forgot and wanted me to get over it while I was still suffering. So just listen and be there for her as a friend.

I'm just echoing others at this point, but just listen - and it will be hard to do after a while. You might end up listening for a long time; you don't get over miscarriage just like that (not that I thought you would think that, but what I mean is, your friend may well be very moody and unhappy for a number of months - she might also be extremely nasty and short-tempered, as I was). For myself, I found that "I'm so sorry, can I do anything to help?" was really the best response. You can't go wrong with that, whereas most other things are sure to upset *someone*, even someone whom you wouldn't have thought would be affected by them - your temper can swing from moment to moment in this sort of situation, so that a comment that might have brought comfort in the morning seems like a dreadful insult in the evening.

The worst comment I got was somebody who, two weeks after I miscarried, chose me to be on the receiving end of his rant about how too many people are having babies and the world is getting so overpopulated and why don't people just THINK before getting pregnant? (And yes, he did know about the miscarriage). In what was not my finest hour, I tore his head off over email and we are now the most ex of ex-friends. Obviously I don't see you doing that! it's just an example of how incredibly distorted your perception of the world can become, so that a comment that is otherwise just dumb and insensitive suddenly turns into a vicious personal attack.

Sorry, I don't mean to scare you; all I mean is that your friend will probably be very much not herself, on and off, for a long time. But I will say one thing she's got going for her, and that's you :). Seriously, I could have used a RL friend like you when I went through mine - someone who knew what the infertility boat was like and could understand the horror of losing one after all that wait. Good luck to both of you; I'll say a prayer for you guys.

"I'm sorry," "Is there anything I can do?" and "Do you have enough chocolate?" were the only things that made me feel better. Statements intended to make me look at the situation a particular way just annoyed me.
I like the mention of "the ministry of presence" above. Sometimes a bowl of popcorn and a video with friends is the most healing thing around (as long as there are no babies in the video--Princess Bride and What about Bob? usually worked for me).

I'd like to second Slim's suggestion of a movie-night. Excellent notion! (As Robert Ferrars would say...) Jane Austen movies always worked for me, but that's to taste.

I've experienced three miscarriages, all of them very early. Very few people knew of the first two. More people knew of the second because it had progressed a little further.

In my opinion, the best thing to say is "I'm so sorry."
Or "I wish I could give you a big hug." Something like that. There's really not much else that can be said. So even that is OK: "I really don't know what to say.. how heartbreaking." It's a death in the family, that's what people often forget. A family member has died.

Try to stay away from saying things like "Look at the bright side." Or: "Well, it's better this way" etc.

Even when people said dumb things, for the most part I knew they meant well, so I tried not to take it too badly.

I've had a miscarriage and I think others have commented well on what to say/how to react, although it sounds like you handled it well anyway. What a sensitive, caring friend to bother to find out what to say.

I think the worst thing that anyone did during that time was a friend(who knew about the miscarriage) who invited me to a dinner party with others that I didn't know and forgot to mention that all the women were pregnant and due within the same time period I would have been due. I had to spend the whole night around pregnant strangers, constantly talking about pregnancy and baby names, and pretend everything was fine. It was awful.

I haven't miscarried, but but I am training to be a hospital chaplain so I have sat with many people who were experiencing loss and grief. You have already gotten a lot of good suggestions, some of which I will echo(those of you who have miscarried please correct me if my suggestions would not have help you). I think what is important is what she has to say, not what you can say to her. So, I believe being present with her so she has an opportunity to share what's on her heart is the best thing you can do for her. Staying with her where she is emotionally, hearing her pain and affirming her feelings are ways you can help her feel understood and less alone. Asking her questions that allow her to share her feelings is another way to support her, but you have to stay where she is. If she says, "I am so angry at God," responding, "so how long will you wait until you try again?" would probably not be the way to go. She is angry at God, so encourage her to talk about that. I guess what I am saying is don't change the subject on her. Subconsciously, what will make you want to do that is where her pain triggers your pain and your are uncomfortable with that. When that happens, without even knowing it, you've changed the subject on her. Yeah, you are still talking about her miscarriage, but you end up setting the agenda for the conversation instead of letting her. You might encourage her to talk about where she sees God in all of this. Loss and grief result in spiritual crisis in pretty much everyone, even if a person doesn't consider themselves a person of faith. She may be angry at God or feel abandoned by him. If she is a person of faith, she might be struggling with feelings of guilt about her bad feelings towards God. So let her talk about that and let her know that God is the creator of feelings. They serve a purpose and He is big enough to handle all of her emotions, good and bad.

BTW I think you did good with what you did choose to say.

Oh, good question Elizabeth! I had one chemical pregnancy and one ectopic within the past year. And my father passed away suddenly in January. So, for the first time in my life, (thank God) I have been the recipient of many condolences! I think the best things that anyone can say are the simplest. "I'm so sorry. If there is anything I can do, please let me know." "I will pray for peace for you." It is frustrating to hear, even as a Catholic, that is it part of God's plan. Well that may be, but like Leslie said, if she is a person of faith she already knows that. And she will make her peace with it, like I did.

I'm so sorry for your friend.

The most helpful things people said to me after my miscarriages were simple: "I'm sorry" & "Please know I'm here if you want/need to talk."

Least helpful? "It wasn't meant to be" & "You can always try again" & "At least you can get pregnant" & "Better now than later in the pregnancy" Most of the people who said these thigns meant well, but they still hurt.

I have had 6 miscarriages. The best thing is "I'm sorry." That's it, simple.
Worst, "It's God's will."

Like others have already said, it's really NOT helpful to say ANYTHING along the lines of "better to find out now than later". That's like a kick in the gut. Seriously, it's better to not say anything at all if you're not sure what you're about to say is helpful or not.

My best friend sent me an e-mail after I had miscarried (or started to miscarry as the case may be) that said: "I love you so much - anything you need, you let me know. No words, just love for you and trust in god." This was probably the best thing that anyone said. That she loved me, that she was here for me and that SHE was trusting in God FOR me (b/c even though I was trying to trust in Him too, it was hard, and having someone tell me that I SHOULD be was offensive at that point). I'll never forget that e-mail. And I'll never forget the other e-mails that simply said "I'm so sorry and I'm thinking of you". When you're experiencing a loss, you just want to know that people CARE about you and that what's happening to you matters to them.

I also had a friend make me a bunch of cookies and bring them over. That was awesome, and my DH and son also appreciated it. I know that I wasn't able to prepare meals for a couple of days, so bringing dinner over is something very helpful. Acts of kindness like this speak volumes!

Hope this helps!

I've had two miscarriages and the best thing that any friend ever said was "I'm sorry and I love you."

Flowers and cards made me feel worse, they were just reminders of the pain. I knew they meant well, but that's just where my head was at the time. Those that I consider "close" friends who didn't call me kind of hurt my feelings me too. An email is not the same in this case. It also stung when people said, "Everything happens for a reason." Not that they were wrong or anything, but I guess it's just stating the obvious. "Obviously something was wrong [to cause the miscarriage]," was another statement that bugged me. I would rather have heard "That must have been so painful," or "How are you doing?" and the one everyone else mentioned, just listen.

For me the soothers were chocolate, ice cream, Starbucks coffee drinks, beer, visits to the bookstore, watching mindless television shows and reading things like People, Us, Woman's World, etc. I hadn't gotten into blogs yet ;)

Sounds like you're a great friend.

I've had 4 miscarriages, and I dealt with each one in a different way. As a midwife, I've been in the sad position of having to tell women that it seemed that their baby is/was dead/dying. It's heartbreaking on that end, too. The best thing that I have found is to simply say "I'm sorry" and "It just isn't fair". sometimes life just sucks. Many women need to be given permission to be angry and to grieve. Others need to be given permission to be selfish and self centered for a short time. The best thing that I think a friend or a caregiver can do is to let her know that all these conflicting emotions are OK, and that she will get through it eventually. I also think that it helps if she knows that there is at least one person who can be available to her 24/7 to help with not only the emotional but the physical aspects of this event. Ideally, it should be the person who was providing her care during the pregnancy, but in reality many moms hav barely established a bond for care when an early miscarriage happens.

Most: I'm sorry. Do you want to talk about it?

Worst: It was God's plan.

Validating a person's anguish is the most important thing. I have had two miscarriages (and no living children) and what really helped me was when people validated my grief. It's called reflective listening. Saying things like: "This must be so painful for you," or "I can hear/see/feel that you are in pain" are particularly important in cases like this...the most painful part is that its a grief that can't be shared.

I had a cousin whose severely handicapped daughter died and the bizarre thing was that I felt ENVIOUS of all the sympathy and support they received when she passed. A lot of my friends and close family didn't even make a condolence call when they heard of the miscarriages.

It's a loss, just like any other, no matter how early it happens. It's a loss. Part of the confusion people feel is a part of this terrible culture of death we live in. If we easily except women terminating their children at 7 weeks of pregnancy then why should we feel any sympathy or empathy for a woman who loses a wanted pregnancy at the same time?

I didn't get angry when people said the "wrong" thing. I got angry when people said nothing. It was an erasure of the miracle of the little life that passed through me even for the briefest moment.

Erasure is wose than misunderstanding.

I haven;t rerad any of the other comments first, I just wanted to get this out. I HATED when someone very close to me said, Some things were just meant to happen.

Why would God have even allowed it to happen in the first place if he was just gonna take it away?

And also after my loss when I conceived again (with Littles) My best friend said, Oh but see you had to have that miscarriage in order to be pregnant now. I don't like that logic, I can't stand it. It may be true but it doesn't feel good to hear.

The only thing you can say is that you are so sorry. You love her and will be there to talk about anything she needs. Let her grieve in her own pace, don;t rush and don;t try to get her mind off of her loss. Encourage talking about it too. That is really the best you can do and knowing you you are already doing all that you can.

I can feel for your friend. It's ironic that the date you posted that message about her miscarriage (March 23) was the 8 month "anniversary" of my miscarriage. That was such a painful time. What was even more painful was March 21st. My due date with the baby we lost was March 20th. I got through the 20th pretty easily. Sure, I thought about the significance of that date, but got through without any tears. But the next morning while in the shower it hit me like a brick wall!! I just moaned and wailed and sobbed. It felt exactly like the day I had the miscarriage. It's something that nobody can relate to unless they've been there themselves...and I don't wish that on anyone!

What to say?? I still never know what to say. I think hugs and "if you need to cry, vent, yell, etc...I'm here for you" helped the best for me. Just spending time with a friend of mine who had experienced multiple miscarriages was comforting. What not to say?? I hated it when people said, "Well, God knows what's best," "It's probably better it happened now," "At least you weren't that far along," (I was just 6 weeks) and (this one REALLY got to me) "Maybe you and Mark aren't supposed to be parents." UGH!!! That one was from one of my best friends who is very young and meant well...just didn't have a clue!!

There is a rainbow...a silver lining for us. I am now 24 weeks pregnant and due at the end of July. So far everything has gone so smoothly. Please tell your friend to mourn and grieve. We now call a special section in our garden our "Memory Garden." We have a special stepping stone, some forget-me-nots, and other little things in that part of the garden in honor of our angel.

I hope this helps at least a bit. My prayers are with you...and with your friend.

This is a very late response, I know, but I just had to add it, for what it's worth.

My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 10 weeks -- what's called a blighted ovum.

The worst thing anyone said to me was what one of the nurses said, "This means you can get pregnant, and that's good." I wanted to scream, "My baby is dead, and that's good?"

But another nurse who attended me basically threw her out of the room. This woman had lost a baby through miscarriage, and she took such wonderful care of me, and warned me about the stupid things people would say.

The hardest thing was how my best girlfriends just didn't know what to do, and so left me alone in my grief. They didn't visit and didn't call, and it was terribly difficult to forgive them that. We later discussed it; we were all young, and they all had never dealt with such a thing before. They apologized, and we talked about what to do if another friend goes through this.

The best thing to do is to listen and to visit a lot. Don't let the grieving be alone.

Another helpful thing for me was the suggestion, a few months later, to name my baby. I now know the name of the little saint waiting for me in the lap of our Blessed Mother, and I can ask her to pray for me and her baby brothers. Her name is Hope, and so look forward to the day when I first hear her call me Mother.

A compassionate and loving priest friend was also a great comfort; he assured me God had not taken my baby away because of my sins.

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