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Miscarriages happen more often than we think. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), miscarriage is the most common of pregnancy loss. "Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage."
However, for as common as miscarriages are, it's not something that's openly discussed. I experienced my first miscarriage during my 16th week of pregnancy. As I shared the news with family and friends, many shared their losses with me. It was like I was inducted into this silent society of women who only shared their grief to help others cope. I was grateful for their words. And while grieving my second miscarriage at five weeks, I still needed them.
The truth is, there really isn't any "right" thing you can say or do to help a woman cope with a miscarriage. But there are things you can do to show your support.
Be there. Offer to go to an appointment. Sitting in an OB/GYN waiting room surrounded by pregnant women can be heartbreaking. Having someone to talk to or sit with can make waiting easier.
A simple text or voicemail. In this digital age, a text may seem cold but anyone mourning a miscarriage may not be ready to talk. I especially appreciated the texts and voicemails that said, "you don't need to respond, just wanted to let you know you're in my thoughts." It was all of the love and support without any of the social pressure to respond.
A kind gesture or offering. Send a fruit basket or leave their favorite sweet treat at their door. Or offer to help. The physical recovery process can take days, sometimes weeks. They may need a load of laundry done, dishes washed, a home-cooked meal or help with their other children.
Keep them company. It's not easy to talk about miscarriage. But just because someone's not ready to talk doesn't mean they don't want company. Offer to come over to watch a movie or binge watch something on Netflix together.
Listen. You don't have to have any answers or even offer words of wisdom; just let them talk. Let them cry, scream or vent. Let them share their story because it needs to be heard.
Give them time. So often, women are told to "get over it" or "move on" and put their grief aside. But any kind of pregnancy loss deserves time to heal physically as well as emotionally.
No matter what you say or do, be sensitive in your condolences. Even if you have the best of intentions, people say things that can be hurtful. There are no silver linings, bright sides or justifications when it comes to pregnancy loss.
When offering support to loved ones, try to avoid the following:
"These things happen for a reason." Losing a child isn't like losing a job or getting into the desired school, and it doesn't call for a "something better will come along" consolation phrase.
"You already have your hands full." Losing a child isn't a "blessing" in disguise. I have a child with autism and while being a special needs parent can be challenging, at no point during either of my miscarriages did I think our family would be better off without another child.
"At least you have other kids. " Whether a woman has one child or 10, a miscarriage is still a loss. And she should be allowed to mourn. When a parent dies, no one consoles the child by saying, "well, at least you have your other parent."
"Better now than later." There is never a good time to have a miscarriage. No matter the stage of pregnancy, the baby is very real and loved.
When in doubt, the best thing you can do is say you're sorry and offer a hug. A kind word and the warmth of a hug can work wonders for a mom dealing with a miscarriage.