In my last blog I wrote about how as a society we need to speak out about giving proper support to people who have gone thru miscarriages. Today, I want to address how we can serve this particular population in a way that allows them to heal from the pain that they are experiencing. The three E’s that I think are important for us to remember are: Empathize, Engage and Empower!
When I had lost my first baby at just 12 weeks, I remember the shock my body went through. I was numb one minute and the next I wanted to cry my eyes out. I wanted to find someone who’d understand what I was going through and tell me that I was not alone in this pain. I was scared, devastated and ashamed of myself. I wanted someone to tell me, “Hey, I’ve been there, I know the pain you’re going through. Let’s walk this road together” or for someone to just sit with me in silence even if they don’t understand the pain. But all I heard was, “You’ll get over it,” and “It happens to many women,” and “get busy doing things and that’ll make you forget this happened.” Or people just didn’t mention it at all as if my pregnancy never even existed. My second and third miscarriages were met with the same response with little empathy. I know people meant well and it’s not their fault that they are not able to empathize but rather only sympathize.
People who have gone through miscarriages themselves have numbed their feelings or they just rather not talk about it as if it was tabooed. Many times, I have heard the statement, “it’s in the past, lets just move on.” I understand that but no matter how long ago it was, it’s still trauma that stays with us. That pain gets triggered when we attend a baby shower or see a mother taking her child for a walk or like for me, every time I saw a pregnant woman, I wondered what was wrong with me that I couldn’t hold on to a pregnancy. The triggers can occur even years after the miscarriage happens. Instead of forgetting, we need to walk in this together and here are a few ways to empathize with people who have gone through a miscarriage:
- Sit with them in silence. Sometimes, all we need is someone to sit with us in silence. You don’t have to understand what they are going through but your willingness to allow them to just “be” is powerful enough.
- Ask yourself, “What if this was me, losing my child?” ” What would I need?” Putting yourself in their shoes can help you have more empathy rather than just offering sympathy which is great but it doesn’t offer much support.
- Don’t ignore their pain but walk with them in it. Cry with them, hold their hand, be as present as possible so that they know who to lean on when feeling hurt. Remember, this is a devastating loss for them and they may have lost all hope in ever becoming a parent again.
Here is a great short video by Brene Brown that illustrates the difference between empathy vs. sympathy.
When people are going through a miscarriage here are a few things you can do in order to help engage with them in a loving and compassionate way. The more you’re willing to be there and spend time with them, the healthier their healing will be. Having as much support in their lives at this time is crucial. The saying, “Out of sight, out of mind” should not apply to women and men who have experienced miscarriages.
- Allow them to talk about their pain. Let them feel comfortable and safe around you so that they don’t have to ignore what happened but rather be able to express their feelings about it.
- It is okay to not understand what a person who has suffered from a miscarriage is going through. Let them know that you’re there for them even if you can’t understand their pain. Sit with them, cry with them, hold their hand…just be there in any ways you can. Walk with them each step of the way so that they feel the support and love from you.
- Never make them feel like as if they are the ones to blame. Women who have suffered from miscarriages have already blamed themselves in more ways than one so lets not add to their guilt and shame. Instead let us EMPOWER them…
Women who go through the physical pain of having a miscarriage can often forget to take care of themselves. They become numb, angry, sad, frustrated with themselves. They don’t realize that their bodies have just gone through trauma and it takes time to heal from it. We should help them understand that it will not only take time for their bodies to heal physically but it will also take time for their heart to heal as well. Empower them by addressing the subject of Self-Care with them in a gentle, loving manner. Encourage them to do the following:
- Do something each day that will make you happy such as taking a walk outside on a sunny day, going to the beach, eating your favorite dessert, etc. The point is to do things that put a smile on your face even if it’s for a moment.
- Cry so that your body can release the pain. Cry with a friend, your partner, by yourself but don’t let yourself repress any feelings that need to come out and be let go of. The pain of losing a child will never go away; crying will help you release pain.
- Write your feelings in a journal and then let them go. Write a letter to your baby that will forever remain in your heart. Do what feels best in order to keep moving through the pain.
- Spend time with loved ones. Have coffee with a friend, lunch with a relative, etc. Don’t isolate yourself from others but rather lean on them. They may not understand your pain but I can assure you that your support system full of your loved ones is willing to walk with you in this journey of pain and healing.
- Take care of your body by getting back into physical activity such as exercising, yoga, going for walks, etc. Take baths, rest when needed, focus on yourself both emotionally and physically.
- Educate others in how they can be of service to you. Ask for help when needed and don’t be ashamed of how you’re feeling.
- We need to have grief groups for miscarriages because it’s not like any other pain that a person experiences. We fall in love with this little being that we haven’t even met yet. The pain alone of losing our baby is enough to make us feel empty and hopeless. Having groups would help people form a community of support and be around those who have experienced this pain. There is healing in numbers when people help and support one another.
I am barely touching the surface on how we can help women and men that have gone though the pain of miscarriages. I am always open to more suggestions and ways that we can help others. Please write in the comments if you have any suggestions in helping people who have gone through miscarriages. Please share your own personal stories if you’d like. Our healing begins here!