Supporting a Friend through a Loss
Recently, a Twins List member asked what she could do to support her cousin, whose IVF pregnancy had just ended in miscarriage. The following suggestions, which apply to almost any loss, come from Rich Hammons and other contributors.
What can you do for your friend whose IVF pregnancy ended in miscarriage?
Here are our suggestions. Some are obvious, some perhaps not. And some are a little more generic than perhaps your specific situation.
I wish that I had composed this list sooner, then sent it to all our friends
and family who didn't know how to deal with us while we were dealing with
infertility and miscarriage. Sorry gang, it's pretty long.
- DO get a sitter or leave your children with DH and go visit her. Do it
today. Do it now if you can.
- DO listen, listen, listen.
- DO give her a shoulder to cry on.
- DO offer her lots of hugs.
- DO take a meal over, then another and another.
- DO ask if there's anything you can do to help. Then follow through.
- DO help her through the grieving process. She has experienced a huge loss. She needs to grieve. She needs your help.
- DO keep an eye on her, and if she doesn't shake her blues, suggest she gets some professional help (I really wish we had done this).
- DO be the best friend you can possibly be.
- DO send her an invitation to that baby shower, but make it easy for her to opt out.
- DO realize she has, in a matter of days, gone from the absolute happiest day of her entire life to the absolute saddest day of her entire life. Filter everything you do or don't do, say or don't say through that single thought.
Bereavement Resources | Twins List Memorial Page
- DO NOT pity her, even in your heart. If you feel pity for her, she'll pick up on it. The infertility roller coaster can be dehumanizing, depersonalizing and humiliating enough without her detecting even a hint of pity.
- DO NOT try to find a silver lining. I guarantee you, there just isn't one... right now or for a long time to come.
- DO NOT say "It'll work next time." The last thing she'll want to do is think about next time--financially, emotionally or physically. She's full of hormones, her hips hurt from all the shots, and her bank account is likely running on empty as well.
- DO NOT tell her "It's for the best." This implies either that her body
killed a perfect child, or that the child in her body wasn't
perfect--neither of which is a concept that will do anything to improve the
situation. Instead, just tell her how sorry you are.
- DO NOT forget her husband. He's likely to be in a lot of pain, too, but society doesn't make it easy for him to show it. He might just appreciate a good cry along with you.
- DO NOT treat her like she's an alien. Underneath her grief, she's still your cousin/sister/friend, even though she's stuck in what is probably the lowest point of her life.
- DO NOT ignore her, hoping she'll get better without your help. She might, but then again, she might not.
- DO NOT diminish her loss in any way. To her, she lost a child that was as real as yours. She may have already named the baby, picked out the colors for the nursery and dreamed of his/her wedding day.
- DO NOT talk about how your kids are driving you nuts. At this point, she'd give anything to have her own two-year-olds getting into everything.
You can bet that in the middle of the night when you're awake nursing, she's awake crying.
- DO NOT complain about morning sickness. She would trade places with you in a heartbeat.
- DO NOT make reference to her "little angel in Heaven," unless or until she does. She doesn't want an angel in Heaven, she wants an angel in her arms.
- DO NOT suggest adoption. If she's inclined to move that direction, she'll discover it time. But this is not the time.
- DO NOT say "This too will pass." She knows that, really she does. But the hurt is real, the hurt is intense, the hurt is now. Tomorrow doesn't exist, not for awhile anyway.
- DO NOT say anything that implies God must not have been ready to give her a child. With due respect to all people of faith, she doesn't need to think that God doesn't yet consider her fit to have children, especially when He seems to consider drug-addicted 16-year-olds perfectly capable parents.
- DO NOT offer advice unless she asks for it (unless you follow the "DO" item above and think she needs professional help).
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