Today is Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and two years ago this month, Aaron and I walked through miscarriage ourselves. Looking back before our loss, I cringe to think about how I failed to care for some of my friends who were walking through miscarriage. I wanted to love these friends well, I just didn't know how.
I am profoundly grateful that we had some very special and loving friends who walked through our loss with us. And since 1 in 4 women will struggle with some sort of infant loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death), I often have friends ask my advice on what to say or do for a friend who has gone through a miscarriage. Any help I can offer is only because of the wonderful community that so beautifully walked with us through our grief. Here are a few ways they cared for us:
1. They validated our loss.
Our friends treated us like there was a death in our family. Because there was. Every small act they did validated our loss and let us know that grieving was normal and okay. They prayed with us, spoke comforting words, sent meals, restaurant gift cards, flowers, cards, and gifts. [Side note: Blanket offers of "Let me know if I can do anything" are great, but even better is saying "I have a Chick-fil-A gift card for you, can I bring it by this evening?"]
2. They took initiative in checking in.
I was so relieved when friends reached out and asked me plainly how I was doing and feeling instead of dancing around the subject. I was also thankful when they followed my cues and respected my wishes if I didn't want to talk about it at the time. When walking with someone through a loss, it's hard to know if you're saying or doing the right thing. I've found that it's always best to say something and let the griever decide if they want to talk or not.
3. They created a buffer.
I needed a buffer between me and the outside world for the first few weeks and my friend Whitney couldn't have been a more perfect one. She sat next to me my first Sunday back at church and let me cry on her shoulder the entire time. She stuck by me in all social situations just to be a supportive presence, someone to talk to, and someone to shield me from having to talk when I didn't want to. She and other friends acted as a go-between so we didn't have to rehash every detail with others while the grief was still fresh. They let others know what had happened and communicated any needs we had.
4. They encouraged us to mark the moment.
We had a memorial service for the little girl we lost with two couple friends of ours. Everything in me at the time said (and sometimes still says), "You are making too big a deal out of this." But the best gift these friends gave us was acknowledging that we weren't and that this type of marking the moment was good and necessary. I am so glad they did because that memorial was one of the most important parts of the healing process for us.
5. They cared for my husband.
I appreciated when people asked how Aaron was doing or served him in some way. We were both grieving, but Aaron felt additional pressure to push it back and just be there to support me. When our friends cared for him, they were caring for me too.
6. They were there for us long after a couple weeks.
It's easy to forget to check in once a grieving person has gone back to work and their normal routine. Sometimes we remember, but don't want to check in for fear of sending them back to "a bad place." But I spent a lot of time in a bad place for about six months after my miscarriage. When my friends reached out to me in that time, they didn't send me back to the pit, they climbed in there with me and made me feel less alone.
7. They still acknowledge the difficult days.
Even though I have a healthy child now, Mother's Day, the due date, and the loss date come with sadness every year. I'm so grateful to have friends and family who acknowledge this and check in on me on these hard days with kind words, phone calls, texts, and even flowers.
If you have experienced infant loss, I hope that you find healing and a loving community as well. If you have not experienced miscarriage, I hope the example of our wonderful friends has helped you discover ways to care for your friends who may be grieving.
How have you been there for someone who was grieving? If you have walked through infant loss, how did your friends and family care for you?