Miscarriage leaves a scar. Each mother + father will experience this trauma differently. No two people will experience grief in the same way. This makes it so difficult to know how to help. Someone you love is walking through one of the worst seasons of their life + you have an aching need to help them; I’m hoping I can help you to accomplish this.
Please know that a lot of the below comes from my own experience / loss of a 4 month pregnancy, our sweet girl – Lana Kay Tindall (my last public letter to her can be found here). However, it’s not lost on me that what I need + what helps me, will not be a perfect match for someone else’s needs. Due to this, I’ve reached out to the broad spanning club of strong + inspiring women/men whom have experienced a similar trauma. It’s a club that no one actually wants to be a part of, but that allows you to know you’re not alone. They’ve responded with what carried them through this grief + I’ve done my best to represent it below, as well.
If you are personally suffering through this trauma + struggling with how to answer the question that everyone keeps asking, “How can I help?” – I’ve written up a short script to direct them to this post in hopes that it removes that one small burden from your plate. “Please know I’m so thankful for you. In this moment, I’m struggling with knowing exactly what will help – I’m working through these waves of emotion + the energy I have left outside of that is minimal. I found a post online that I’ve been directing others to, with some ideas.”
- Platitudes: Are they helpful? I don’t think they’re worthless, but I do think it helps to know the person you’re giving them to. Are you saying, “I’m so, so sorry” to make yourself feel better – like you’ve done your good deed and now you can move on from this person’s misery? If so, please don’t send them your apology if it’s only to help yourself. If you’re truly sorry + you’re just not sure what else to say – I think there is value here, but an expansion as to why is always helpful. “I’m so sorry. This is a very traumatic experience + unfortunately – I can relate. You are not alone.” If you’ve experienced something similar, sometimes it helps to open the floor to your story. Some may want to hear of others experiences – I know I did. It has helped me to not feel alone in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined. Please bear in mind though, that even if you’ve had a similar experience – you can’t know exactly how someone else is feeling. “I’m so sorry, this sucks – I’d like to help…”. If you want to help in some way, please don’t leave “how” open-ended. This places the expectation on the grieving persons plate. Let them know exactly how you plan to help + when, with the option for them to decline. “I am at Costco + driving right by your house afterwards. What do you need from Costco? I can drop it on your porch.” Assertion can be valuable as long as it’s open-ended. It lets the person know you mean business when you say you want to help, that they can rely on you. They can either decline or open up about what else they may need. The last platitude I want to address is, “I’m praying for you” or some form of prayers. I’d be careful to ascertain whether or not this person is reaching for God, sometimes the anger part of grieving can lead one astray. You can pray for someone without telling them about it, but if you’re sure that telling them will bring them comfort – please do so. For me, prayers have been the biggest gift. For someone else, now may not be the time.
- Music! I’ve reached out to others to form a playlist of songs that helped them through a similar trauma. I’ve created this playlist on Spotify + made it public. Please note, a lot of the songs ended up being from Christian bands – you may keep this in mind when deciding to share this playlist with your loved one. “I reached out to friends + scoured the internet. I found a link to this playlist of songs that was created by others whom have experienced a similar trauma. I’m not sure if it will help, but I wanted to share.” The full playlist can be found at the bottom of this list.
- Food – Please don’t deliver anything with the expectation of seeing the person you’re caring for.
- Homemade food, dropped on the porch – if someone has organized a meal train it’s best to sign up on there to be sure that you’re not bringing food the same day as someone else. If you’re close enough with the person struggling, maybe you can organize the meal train for them? It tells what time they eat dinner, how many people will be fed, any allergens or dietary restrictions + gives the address for the drop. This keeps your friend from having to answer the same questions repetitively. It also allows for donations and some food delivery service gift cards – you could also make note of the preferred food delivery service.
- Gift Card – My guess is the best option for most, in terms of a food gift card, is going to be for a service such as DoorDash, Uber Eats (‘eats-tashae789ui’ will get you $20 off of $25 first time order) or GrubHub. This is a great option if you don’t know the person well enough to know what kind of food they’d like or maybe ordering for someone else is a bit out of your comfort zone.
- Smoothie Cups – Daily Harvest was my favorite postpartum food after I had my son. I can’t help but think they’d make a great gift for someone experiencing loss, as well. You just fill the cup with a liquid of choice and toss it in the blender. Easy, nutrient dense meal.
- Disposable Plates / Silverware – Someone recommended this as something to consider when dropping food or just in general. Not having to do dishes can make a big impact for some in their home. It is one less thing to have to worry about if the person you are caring for isn’t going to be upset with the environmental impacts, in that scenario though – bringing disposables could lead to more stress.
- Coffee Drop – A quick porch drop of coffee/smoothie/warm drink, can be a little reminder to the person you’re caring for, that you’re thinking of them + that you love them. It’s always important to do a porch drop though in case they don’t want company. There’s always a chance you’ll be invited in.
- Grocery Drop – If you live far away, Amazon Prime generally does free Whole Foods Delivery. There are other grocery delivery options available as well, or of course – you could personally shop and drop the food. I had someone send a grocery delivery that had never met me in person. It was like they went through my fridge + knew precisely what I was out of. Don’t let not knowing someone super well keep you from giving this gift – God guided her hand + He will guide yours. All you need is an address!
- Acts of Kindness
- Childcare – If you know the person you’re caring for well enough, child care for a few hours can be a huge relief, especially if you’ve watched their child/children before. Alone time can be difficult, but also essential for healing.
- Taking A Walk – Fresh air + sunshine are their own kind of medicine. Sometimes someone whom is grieving will need a little push to get out of their home. Letting them know you’re going for a walk in their area at a certain time could be the perfect opportunity.
- Checking In – Set alarms in your phone to remind you to check in on your loved one, even months later (maybe on anniversaries). The drop off of people checking on you is hard to fathom when you’re still hurting just as badly. “I just wanted to touch base + see how you’re feeling.” This is also a great opportunity to acknowledge baby’s name + reference them as a part of the family.
- A “Normal” Date – This doesn’t have to be an in-person event. It can be a text that says, “If you need a break or a moment to feel “normalcy” and discuss anything and everything, EXCEPT what’s going on – just say the word.” I had a number of spontaneous “normal” dates with friends, where I asked them to just tell me about what’s going on in their life. I needed social interaction without the weight of my emotional season, just for a few minutes.
- Weeding/Gardening – It’s easy to suggest house cleaning or dishes, but that requires you to enter someone’s home when they may be in dire need of that space. Weeding/gardening or mowing the lawn allows you to take care of some house chores without actually entering the home.
- Show Up + Be Okay With Possible Silence – If enough time has passed that they’re ready for company. You can always ask, “I’m going to be near your house today, if you’re up for company – I can stop in. We can talk about whatever you’d like.”
- Tell them you love them.
- Goods / Gifts
- Gift Cards – It’s been brought to my attention by a few people, that sometimes grief manifests in a need to online shop. I haven’t personally experienced this, but it’s come up enough, that I think it’s common. A local shop may be a good option if they have online shopping capabilities. Another option is Amazon.
- Flowers – Some of the most beautiful flowers we received were from Bouqs. I actually preferred the bouquets with color + flowers that I could smell as I walked by. A note that reads, “I hope that these flowers remind you of how much you are loved, every time you walk by” can mean a lot. Bouqs has always been my personal go-to when sending flowers because of the eco-friendly/sustainable farms they source from.
- Devotional – I’m adding this because a friend sent me one specific devotional that has single-handedly been one of my biggest helps throughout this season. A link to the one she sent me is here. Another devotional that comes highly recommended is this one.
- Care Package – Fill a basket with self-care items such as teas, bath bombs, popcorn for a movie, etc. If they physically birthed the baby or went through a surgery, you may consider items to help with those specific recoveries.
- Custom Painted Wooden Baby – This etsy shop custom paints dainty wooden peg doll babies as a loss/remembrance gift. A friend of mine experienced an earlier loss + she was unable to hold her baby, but she could hold this + she said it means so much to her.
- An Empty Journal – If the loved one you’re caring for is a writer, you may consider getting them a beautiful journal, such as this one (it has a pocket that would be a good place to store sympathy cards), to begin journaling their grief journey. I’m not personally a journaler, but others have let me know that this is an incredibly helpful healing tool.