Miscarriage, Friendship, and Your Words

October 13, 2020  - By Lara D'Entremont

Well-Watered Women Blog - When You Don't Have Words for Your Friend who has Miscarried

Meaningful Moments After Miscarriage

It was only a couple of weeks after our first miscarriage. I was leaving the church bathroom on my way to pick up my son from the nursery. A fellow mom I barely knew stopped me at the door. “Hi Lara,” she said. She had that sympathetic tilt to her head that most people had when they saw me now. We exchanged the usual civilities, but when I thought she was done her bright blue eyes locked on mine.

“I just wanted to say—” she bit her lip. “I just wanted to say ... I’m so sorry for your loss.” Tears were brimming in her eyes as she glanced over at her baby sound asleep in her car seat. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to make you cry,” she said, wiping the tears from her face. “I just can’t imagine going through that. I’m so sorry.”

She gave no consoling words or advice. She didn’t spout off some nice Bible verses. And yet, this conversation is one that I treasure. It meant more to me than that mom ever thought and did more in my heart than she probably ever considered. 

When someone experiences suffering or grief, especially one we haven’t experienced ourselves, our mouths often feel dry and empty. We don’t want to cause more harm, but we also hate to see a friend in pain. And so we often find ourselves standing awkwardly next to them with our mouths silently opening and closing, or our fingers dancing above the keyboard, trying to figure out what we can possibly say.

A Word on Being Wordless

While simple words made a profound impact on my heart that day at church, the people who said nothing made a very different but likewise significant impact. Some people, though they knew the grief we had experienced, never once mentioned it to us. I don’t hold it against them; I know how fear has kept me from saying anything to someone grieving, so I assume it was from the best intentions that they remained so quiet in our suffering. 

Yet in the midst of our grief, their silence was admittedly hard. I wondered why these sisters and brothers in Christ hadn’t reached out. Did they think our grief was trivial? Were they trying to avoid sharing in our pain? Did they simply think this was a fact of life to be accepted and moved on from? Did they not have time for us? These assumptions may have been wrong, but they sprang unbidden from my grief. 

Let this be my first encouragement to you, sister: Please don’t remain silent. Reach out to your grieving friend. Let her know, even in some small way, that you care and that you see her suffering. Don’t let the fear of saying the wrong thing or of encountering her grief keep you from speaking. You only need a few simple components to show a grieving parent of a miscarriage your care and love.

Taking Care to Guard Our Speech

The main reason we hold our tongues and clamp our lips shut is that we’re afraid of saying something wrong. We don’t want the wrong words to stumble out of our mouths and heap more pain onto friends’ grief. 

Perhaps if we consider where we often go wrong with our words, we’ll be better equipped to guard our tongues. I appreciate these words Sarah Walton wrote in Together Through the Storms:

It’s hard to sit with another person in the mess of their suffering without trying to impose our own “wisdom” and bring sense to what seems senseless. We want to help. We want to do something. We want it to be better. So we end up, unwittingly, sounding judgmental. More selfishly, we don’t like being confronted with the reality that we’re not really in control. We don’t like rough edges and insurmountable problems. So we’re often quick to give pat answers and empty comforts. We input our own experience, not in a humble way that allows it to be ignored if it’s unhelpful, but from a position of assuming that we know how someone feels (though we never fully do) or with an assurance that everything will turn out fine (though we never have that guarantee).

To offer words of comfort and love rather than judgment, we want to come alongside our friend and be willing to weep with her rather than fix her. When we stop seeing ourselves as the ones who will take the grief away and make our friends happy again, we learn to patiently sit with loved ones who are mourning and speak words of comfort.

Acknowledge the Grief

If you haven’t experienced a miscarriage, it may be hard to understand how deeply grief’s knife can cut, but it’s important to acknowledge that the grief is real. No matter how early, no matter how small the baby inside, loss is still loss. A real baby with a real soul was lost. A real loved one has passed away and left grief in his or her place.

And like all grief, different people feel it differently. Even from miscarriage to miscarriage it may be experienced differently; I grieved much differently after our first miscarriage than I did during the second. Whatever our loved one’s experience with grief is, we should always acknowledge that she lost someone dear to her.

Words You Can Say: I’m sorry for your loss; it’s hard to lose someone you love.

Offer Help

Another mom who loved me well during my miscarriages simply gave me a dozen homemade cookies with a hand-written card that said, “I know this intimate pain as well. If you ever want a listening ear, please reach out.” A mom experiencing miscarriage may need physical help due to how the miscarriage has affected her body, or she may simply want a loved one’s nearness and prayer. Even if a family facing miscarriage doesn’t take your offer of help, the offer itself is often a comfort and encouragement to their aching hearts.

Words You Can Say: How can I best help you right now? What do you need?

Keep It Simple

Unless they are coming to you for counsel, most grieving people aren’t expecting you to have every answer to their questions or solutions to their concerns. They are simply looking for sympathy, compassion, and prayer. We blunder and flounder most often with our words when we try to make them long and eloquent. And yet, it’s often the people with the simplest words who offer the most comfort. Some of those people simply expressed to me, “ I don’t even have words. I am so sorry.”

Words You Can Say: I’m so sorry. I love you, and I’m praying for you.

Remember to Pray for Them

Whether with your grieving friend or at home by yourself, remember to pray for those suffering from a miscarriage. Here is a simple prayer prompt from Psalm 4:

Father, please hear the sorrowful cries of my friends who have miscarried. As you have given relief to your people in their distress, please give them relief from their grief. Be gracious and hear them, and help them to trust that you are listening.

As we walk with our loved ones through miscarriage, let us learn to weep with them and use our words to uplift and encourage. We don’t need to heal our friends or extract their grief, but we do need to bring them the throne of our Heavenly Father through prayer, who is their one true hope and greater comforter.

Meet the Author:

Lara d’Entremont is a Biblical Counselor-in-training, and her desire in writing is to teach women to turn to God’s Word in the midst of daily life and suffering to find the answers they need. She wants to teach women to love God with both their minds and hearts. Lara is married to Daniel and they live in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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