I guarantee this is true: if you’re going through loss and you (like me) are lucky to have many loving friends – you will receive the words “let me know if there’s anything I can do.”
I know their words are full of love, genuine kindness and concern.
As much as I know this, I confess is sometimes know it’s impossible to know what to say in return.
I feel like I could sometimes reply “I’d like my baby in my arms, please and thank you”
I noticed that Eva Wiseman explains brilliantly in a Guardian column. She refers to a “internal kind of violence” in reaction to these requests.
That’s a feeling I can relate to. In those early days of grief I was barely functioning and I felt angry I was being asked to think of something that someone could do to make me feel better.
I really don’t want to be unfair to my loving friends and family who really do want to help. It’s really hard to know what to say and what to do for someone experiencing loss. We don’t want the people we love to go through heartbreak and naturally we want to make them feel better.
The truth is, there is no simple answer, all you can do is be kind, understanding and proactive.
Whilst there isn’t much you can do to take away the pain (and that’s really OK), here are some small actions you can do to let someone know you care.
Flowers have been there for all occasions for centuries and it’s because they work. Everyone loves receiving flowers – unless the recipient has extreme hayfever – and I dare you to find someone who doesn’t smile at sunflowers. They bring colour at a time when everything seems grey and I always think of the sender when I look at them. Plus they smell nice as well.
There’s not much that makes you feel good during a miscarriage but food really does even if it’s only for one second. The problem is that cooking can feel impossible when you’re grieving – personally all I wanted to do was stay in bed and binge watch feel-good TV. Any food you send whether it’s chocolate or a lasagna is hugely appreciated. Please note Kyle will eat 80% of sweet treats.
Become a baby loss ally
When you have a miscarriage you’re thrown into this club that no one wants to join. You learn words like “ectopic”, “molar pregnancy”, “missed miscarriage” that were once foreign to you. Despite it happening to one in four women, it’s still a little known or talked about topic.
You can be a part of the solution without going through loss yourself. If your friend has a missed miscarriage, google it to find out what it is she’s going through. Read up on campaigns and sign petitions from Tommy’s and the Miscarriage Association, not because you’ve had a loss, but because this is something that happens to so many women and their partners.
Supporting a friend to fundraise for baby loss charities is also a really loving thing to do. Whenever someone donated to our 10K run after our third loss, I felt as if they were running along with us, cheering us on.
Sit with them and stare at the wall
Some people want to be surrounded by their friends, others prefer to be alone. I’m often somewhere in the middle where I want to be surrounded by my friends but I have no energy to entertain or even talk to them. At times like this when there are no words, you just need a friend who’ll sit with you as you stare at the wall – who won’t try to fill the silence with platitudes but will hold you when you cry.
As I’ve mentioned previously it means the world to receive a message from someone who just wants to let you know they’re thinking of you or praying for you. It doesn’t need to be complicated – there’s no need to write the next War and Peace – all it need say is “I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what you’re going through but I’m thinking of you.” Personally I’m also partial to messages that include gifs of puppies, kittens and other cute animals (except hamsters which are the devil’s rodent).
It’s worth noting that although we learn to move forward with grief, it doesn’t disappear and certain days will be particularly hard. Sending a message of support on Mother’s Day and the baby’s (or babies’) due date will remind someone that they have a loving network around them.
It’s also very worth saying…
We have received incredible, heart-felt messages, loving gestures, and acts of kindness. But the language we use, in words and actions, when a friend or family member is in grief is important to talk about and develop. Knowing a loved one who is grieving baby loss is so hard, and I just wanted to share what gives a balm to me.