Helping a Friend Through Pregnancy Loss or Grief

Three years into our marriage, my husband and I lost our firstborn, a daughter we named Molly Ann, to a rare brain aneurism that we didn’t know about until she was born at 41 weeks.  She lived a week and touched more lives than most do in a lifetime.  Eleven months later we gave birth to a 14-week old little boy who weighed just over an ounce, and who had died in my womb due to an interruption with the placenta.  Four months after burying our second child, we discovered we were pregnant with twins.  By the grace and absolute delight of God, I carried them to term and gave birth on April 5, 2010 to Piper and Lily.  Our twin girls are precious beyond our imagination and have given us more joy than we thought possible.  Just when I thought I was done with losing babies, I experienced two miscarriages back to back in the summer of 2011 early on in the pregnancy.  For some reason, I chose to grieve those babies quietly rather than publicly and my brood in Heaven rose to four.

In going through my own excruciating times of grief, I have heard both helpful things and hurtful things from well meaning people.  Unless you have personally experienced that loss, it is impossible to know what that person is feeling or going through.  No one who has ever experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death wants anyone else to ever go through what they are.  Losing a son or daughter early on in life, having known them for a while or but a few weeks, is one of the most painful feelings I have ever known.

Here’s what NOT to say:

1. “God is in control.”  Two things here: I know that God is in control and pouring out my heart to you wasn’t about me losing my faith.  God is absolutely in control and I know that, but reminding me of the fact isn’t going to make my baby come back.

2. “Oh honey don’t worry, you’re young, you’ll have another baby.”  I’m sorry, but did I miss something?  How do you know that I’ll have another baby?  Did God tell you?  No one knows the mind of God, nor should we expect that He will do exactly what I want.

3. “God just needed another angel in Heaven.”  Here’s a news flash for you: God doesn’t NEED anything.  He’s God and has no need for anyone or anything.  And another thing, my precious baby in Heaven isn’t an angel.  He or she is a living, breathing soul who is praising the name of Jesus at this very moment!

Those might have been hard to hear, but I promise you that any woman who has gone through the loss of a baby at any point in her pregnancy or afterwards will agree with me here.  The other thing we are all tempted to ask at a time like this is, “what can I do to help?”  The better way to ask, is “how can I help” or “when can I bring you a meal?”  Specifics are better than leaving it open ended for them to decide.  People in the midst of their grief have more than enough to think about and trying to find something for you to do is overwhelming and can also add to their stress.

Now, here’s what TO say when someone you know loses a baby:

1. “I am just so sorry for what you are going through right now.”  Easy enough, empathetic, and kind.  Plus, we all know how to say we’re sorry, right?

2. “I cannot imagine the pain that you are experiencing.  I am so sorry.”  Similar from the one before, this shares your heart and shows that you aren’t going to try and fix it for them.  There is no fix.  And you couldn’t fix it even if you wanted to.

3. “Can I pray with you, right now?”  Now, before you go and do this, please take some time to assess the situation and if it’s appropriate or not to stop where you are and pray.  Make sure your friend feels safe enough to cry her eyes out and maybe even wail too.  Over the phone is perfect, or at her house or yours.

The obvious and most important thing that you can do for someone who has lost a baby or will lose one, is to stop what you’re doing at that exact moment and ask the God of the universe to help your precious friend, and to grant you wisdom in knowing how to help and what to say.

Editor’s Note: If you are struggling with grief today or know someone who is and are seeking for a way to help them, please connect with us either through the ‘Get Help’ button or the eMentoring request link in the sidebar. We have someone waiting to connect with you… to pray for you and listen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

42 thoughts on “Helping a Friend Through Pregnancy Loss or Grief

  1. Thanks for being open to share your heart with all of us, Rebecca. It can’t have been easy to do this, but, it’s very helpful. You’re such a blessing to all! And, I am very sorry to hear about each loss you’ve suffered. I am praying for you. Even though we do not grieve as those who have no hope, we do grieve, don’t we?

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Absolutely Suzanne! You hit the nail on the head! We most definitely grieve with those who grieve. And thank you for your kind words about our babies who are in Heaven. I look forward to our reunion one day. Thank you!

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  2. Rebecca, thank you so much for sharing your heart! I am so very sorry about the losses you have experienced! Thank you for allowing God to use you to help others to know how to comfort and support loved ones experiencing a loss! Hugs to you, sweet lady!

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Thank you so much Janae! I appreciate your kind words and hugs through the internet! 🙂

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Thanks Kristi! I appreciate you sharing your blog also! It’s definitely a subject worth talking about and I applaud you for opening your heart and sharing your own precious journey through the valley. Bless you sweet Mom of three. -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  3. Thank you Rebecca, and I’m sorry you lost your babies. When my second daughter Annie died in utero God showed me a swarm of butterflies rising to the sky near my home, what a precious gift and strengthening of my faith. I also have to credit a nurse where she was stillborn for bringing me her body and a birth certificate with footprints, when my OB would have simply discarded her at just under 20 weeks. Few people say the right thing but I realized that, because she was inside me her entire life in this world, I’m the only one who ever really knew and touched this tiny person. That helps me to understand others’ lack of sympathy and to forgive them for forgetting and moving on so quickly after I lost her. I feel blessed that I knew her and she touched me – I had a completely unique connection with this human being who now lives in Heaven. I like talking to her sister Mary about her occasionally. She is eight now and has remained an only child on earth, but knows she has a little sister in Heaven. We speculate what Annie may have been like and track her age through the years. God is good to us, bless you and your family.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Thanks for sharing your story with us, Tricia! I am so sorry to hear of your loss and am so encouraged when I hear of other nurses who are precious angels in the midst of our grief and who do things like your nurse did for your sweet Annie. And you are so right, God is good, even in the midst of the pain we feel. Blessings to you! -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Thanks Kennisha!! I so appreciate the words of encouragement! It’s a huge blessing! Hugs back!

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  4. Well said Rebecca. I also have four in heaven (and 2 here with me) and have heard all of the caring and not-so-wisely said words. It’s easy to understand when people don’t know what to say. Just not pleasant. It’s our oppotunity to use our experience to educate so the next devestated mom hears the words she needs to hear. It’s also my joy to know my babies are alive and healed in heaven. Best of all, their brief lives have shaped my life and my purpose like nothing else could ever have done — as I see it has for you as well. Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy, but Jesus came that we may have life more abundant! I dare say the devil screwed up when he messed with me.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Nicole, you are so right on with such truth about what Jesus can do through those precious lives that were here so briefly! I believe that God has given me my ministry in helping others in grief and I could not have done it had I not walked through the valley each of those times. It’s encouraging to know that my pain is not wasted here on earth. God knows everything and he sees every tear and it is not wasted. Blessings to you and I’m proud of you for choosing to use your grief to help others rather than be bitter. It’s a hard choice, but a good one you have made. Blessings to you! -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  5. Thank you for these wise words of wisdom. We lost our pprecious niece this past August at 34 weeks due to a chord accident. It has been a very rough 6 plus months on us all, but especially my sister, brother in law and nephew. Even with carefully choosen words there were times we in advertently hurt my sister. We have learned that sometimes a big hug is better than any words.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • You are absolutely right, Kelli. Sometimes our actions mean more than words and can say far more than we can muster through our lips. I’ll be praying for your family as you grieve the loss of your niece, I am so sorry for your loss. How tragic and difficult that must be for them and those around them. Blessings to you all and may God comfort you all in only ways that He can. -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  6. My sister lost a daughter stillborn. She suffered quietly for many years still does. Ehen she gave birth the nurse wouldn’t let her look at her or hold her. Which infuriated me to no end. The nurse was in tears when me and my stepmother both chewed her out for being a heartless @?!@,. She held her baby and got to say goodbye. When people heard there were some people who said it was Gods will or your young you can try again or worse. Those people made it so much harder. Our family was so devastated and I pray no one e er has to experience a loss like that. God bless

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Good nurses like the ones I was was blessed in my situation are like angels. They had tiny knit caps on hand and I was able to keep the one they place on my tiny girl. Also when our priest visited he was present when a nurse brought us our stillborn daughter, the nurse insisted I call him because he’d been there for others in the same situation. He administered a blessing on both me and my baby, very affirming for me and all in stark contrast to my OB (the hospital chief of staff) who had recommended that I have my daughter vacuumed out at an abortion clinic.

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Oh Michele, I am so sorry for your daughter and the loss that she has experienced and continues to process through. I am continually saddened by those who aren’t sensitive and who haven’t a clue. The one thing I have learned through people like that is to be gracious even when I want them to go away. Somehow there is a lesson for me in those hurtful words, even when I feel like I should be saying those hurtful things. And in that, we can teach others to be more thoughtful to others down the road. It isn’t easy to do, that’s for sure. I had to try lots of times! I am praying now for your daughter as she processes through the loss of her daughter and that she will find hope and comfort from the only One who can give it to her. Blessings to you all, -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  7. This is spot-on. I’m so sorry you’ve had such loss, and so grateful you took the time to step back in to the feelings and help people take care of the ones who are hurting around them. That’s courage, and love….

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Thanks Laurie! I really appreciate your kind and thoughtful words. It’s encouraging to know that what I have to say is helpful to others! Thank you! -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  8. A dear friend has two sons–one with severe asthma and the next who was supposed to be her “healthy” child. He has tubular sclerosis, and now a life disrupted by a debilitating disability. She found herself pregnant unexpectedly. This daughter has an undeveloped cerebellum is not expected to live long after birth. I watched her pain from people who offered all the “what not to says.” I grieve with her and cannot fathom the pain of losing a child. Thank you.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • I am so sorry for your friend, Carol. Even now I am without the words for the unspeakable difficulties she has experienced! I’m praying now that she will experience hope and comfort from the only One who can give it to her. Blessings to you as you minister to her, -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  9. I lost my precious 4 month old son to SIDS. I feel like my world stopped. I have 3 other children and was tired of hearing that I “had 3 other kids”….. This fact is not lost on me or make my pain any less. I wanted to respond: we’ll cut off a few of your fingers- you’ll still have 7 more. It’s been 8 months; his first birthday is this Friday…….I miss him more and more…..

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Oh Mandy, my heart absolutely is broken for you! I am just so sorry! I cannot imagine losing a child that I have grown to know and love outside of my womb. I have never known that loss, and yet I can imagine the depth and weight of the pain you must be experiencing. Oh and to have his birthday just coming up this week, I am just so sorry! I wish I could wrap my arms around you in a big hug and weep with you. My heart aches for you. Please know that I am thinking of you now and praying for comfort and peace. I am just so sorry! Blessings and hugs, -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  10. Rebecca,

    THANK YOU! My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage and it then took us 2 years to even get pregnant again. I was so discouraged and so many people said things in your “what-not-to-say” list. I also had a few people say “well maybe it’s for the best, after all something was probably wrong with the baby anyway”. The one that I got so tired of hearing when we struggling just to get pregnant was, “God has His own timing”. Anyone reading: please add these to your list of things not to say to someone who has had a miscarriage or is struggling to get pregnant.
    Anyway, Rebecca, I am so utterly sorry for your losses. The heart of a mother breaks for any child that is lost no matter if it is in utero or we only get to hold that child for a brief time. I will be praying for you and your family.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Great words to add to our list, Heather! Really great words! I agree with everything you said. Those words I know are meant to encourage someone who has gone through a loss but it only makes it worse sometimes. I am so sorry for your loss and then subsequent waiting for 2 more years to get pregnant again. Wow, what a trial that must have been and so difficult to wait for something you had a brief taste for before. I appreciate your prayers and thank you for sharing your thoughts here! Blessings to you! -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  11. My husband and I have a healthy 3 year old. We have been pregnant 2 times this past year. The first child we lost at 9 weeks but I didn’t find out until I was 12 weeks along (March 2011) during my ultrasound. Of course my husband was out of town and my toddler was with me at the doctor’s office. We named him Jedidiah, which means “God’s Beloved.” Jed was loved and I am grateful that the first face he saw was Jesus’! What a blessing for him to experience Heaven and not our painful sinful earth. Maybe that sounds weird, but it gives me a sort of joy and happiness in spite of my grief and suffering. We lost our 2nd baby in December 2011. With the second baby I bled for 6 weeks and, thankfully, did not need a dilation and curettage. I never thought I would have problems. Honestly, I am struggling with bitterness. This is all still very raw and emotional for me.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Meghan, sweet woman, I am so sorry for what you are going through right now. It is so hard to understand and so difficult to experience and go through. I know exactly what you are talking about with struggling with bitterness. I too experienced that this past summer with our two miscarriages. I was surprised to experience those emotions since I hadn’t really gone through that with our first two. It was just a different way of dealing with grief, I think. A great book to read, if I may suggest one, is A Grace Disguised, by Jerry Sittser. It’s so good and deals not only with loss as it relates to a death, but just how we deal with loss in general. It’s so encouraging and a really good read. I hope you don’t feel like I am trying to fix you here, just felt prompted by God here to share a resource. I know that reading another book won’t make the pain go away, but it might help give you some perspective as you process through your losses. I’m praying for you now that God will give you comfort and peace that can only come from Him. Bless you sweet, Meghan -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  12. In 2001, I miscarried at 12 weeks. Birthdays are still hard for me. I did not know how to grieve. No one wanted to talk about it, so I kept my feelings hidden. I started a grief blog a few years ago and I can’t explain the sense of relief that comes from writing “I’m a little sad today”. I am so grateful for the many resources that offer support. I am also grateful for the people who share their stories. I used to be stuck in grief, now I feel like I’m standing in grief & one day I’ll be surviving in grief.
    Thank you Rebecca.
    My prayers are with each of you.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • What beautiful words you have written, Bridgette. I love what you said that you used to be stuck in grief, but are now standing in grief and that you hope to be surviving in grief. What a picture that must be encouraging to you as you process your thoughts and feelings each day. And you are right, birthdays are so hard and they always have been for me too. Way to go with starting a blog as well and writing. I have found writing to be so therapeutic for me and so helpful in my journey. Blessings to you! -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  13. Oh, sweet Becca!! I love you so much, and I love what you wrote!! You have been such a help to me in more ways than you know!! You are so amazing, and your continued faith throughout all of this pain and suffering has encouraged me to see and know that God is always with me. Even in all the bad times, He still loves me and was right there the whole time. It is easy to say, “God doesn’t care.” But He does, and thank you for reminding me of that always. And Molly’s quote runs through my head often. What is it? “We cannot, Lord, thy purpose see. But all is well that’s done by thee.” I know that is close, and that has helped me so much!!! Thank you!! Love you bunches 🙂

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Sweet Laura, you are so sweet and dear! I wish I could hug you if you weren’t so far away!! I am so grateful that these words have been a blessing to your mommy heart. Really, it never gets old to me to hear of changed lives and touched hearts. Thanks for also sharing the quote on Molly’s marker, you have it totally right! “We cannot Lord they purpose see, but all is well that’s done by thee.” Great memory! Love you girl! -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  14. Just wanted to share another resource that my OB actually gave me after my miscarriage, “Empty Arms: Hope and Support for Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Tubal Pregnancy” by Pam Vredevelt. To echo Rebecca’s sentiment, not trying to fix anyone, frankly a book can’t heal a broken heart, but this book gave me the tools to start grieving my loss. So many people tried to gloss over my miscarriage and this book had story after story of women who greived their losses and it helped me to see that my grief was justifiable. I hope that helps someone….

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Heather, I think that I have that book and ended up reading it shortly after our second loss. It’s an excellent compilation of stories from various women. It’s really good and encouraging. Thanks for sharing that resource also. And yes, no book can heal a broken heart but it can help start you on the path of working through grief and processing. Great words for all, thanks for sharing. -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  15. I experienced wonderful support from a group that met at the hospital, Compassionate Friends which had a sub-group for pregnancy loss. http://www.compassionatefriends.org
    It helped so much to have others to sit with and talk about being sad, after my friends and family were well over it.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Compassionate Friends is an excellent resource, Tricia. Thank you for sharing that with everyone. -Rebecca

      VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  16. Thanks for sharing your story! I thin sharing is an amazing way to help encourage others who may be going through the same thing. I’m 25 and in the last 4 years I’ve: delivered a stillborn, miscarried, lost the only father i knew, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and delivered 2 awesome kids. God has been amazing through it all. I’d love for you to take a look at my blog, comment, and share with others. Maybe it will encourage you or someone you know.

    With love!
    Tara

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  17. Where is the “get help” button? I’m sinking in the depths of my grief…

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Motherhood vs. My Personal Goals

Earlier this year, there were a few weeks that presented many schedule challenges. Inclement weather caused cancelled school and activities. The kids were home. The kids were bored. The kids were needy. That meant the mom’s schedule changed, too. Worse, my daughter with autism didn’t understand that icy roads meant we couldn’t go for a Continue »

Are You Lonely?

The other day I went for a walk with a friend of mine. At some point on the trail she said to me, “This week I have been feeling lonely. In fact yesterday I was so lonely I went to the grocery store simply to find a person to talk to.” Two things surprised me Continue »

King of Kings

Have your littles started compiling their not-so-little Christmas lists yet? How ironic is it that right in the middle of the month that we are focusing on gratitude and trying to teach them to be thankful for what they already have, everyone else is telling them it’s time to make that list and check it Continue »

Motherhood Without Regret

I wasn’t expecting a wave of emotion to overtake me as I read Kelcie’s post on MomLife Today. But here I find myself looking through blurry eyes, filled with tears that are spilling down my cheeks and making tiny wet stains on my shirt. These last several minutes have been spent staring out the window Continue »