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October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month

Mark Zuckerberg did a courageous and powerful thing by sharing publicly that he and his wife had a miscarriage. Often people tend to shy away from the discussion about loss during pregnancy because there can be stigma associated with miscarage or they just do not know what to say.  

 
 

So what can we do to support friends and family that have experienced a loss during pregnancy? Here are a few tips from Monica N. Starkman M.D in Psychology Today. You can read the article in its entirety here.

Acknowledge the loss. The simple act of acknowledging that miscarriage is a very painful loss can be tremendously supportive. Simply saying: “I’ve heard, and I’m sorry for your loss” shows you understand and are not afraid of talking about it.

Don’t worry about finding the right thing to say. There isn’t one right thing. What’s important is to convey compassion and support. For example, a simple hug can express what is needed. Asking, “Would you like to talk about it?” demonstrates that you’re willing to listen– and this is, in itself, a source of support

Let Her/Him Take the Lead. If you don’t get an encouraging response, you can indicate understanding by saying: “I’m always ready to listen whenever you might want to talk about it.” If your friend indicates she would like to talk about it, let her steer the conversation where she needs it to go. A simple response, such as: “I can understand why you feel so devastated” can be enormously supportive.

As a profound loss, a miscarried baby must be mourned. And, like all grieving, it’s a process whose course varies from day to day. A person may have been open to talking about it one day, but not the next. Take your lead from her:  don’t press. When you ask how they’re feeling, If there’s a short answer, like “OK”, and no more, let it rest. You’ve conveyed the message that you care and are available to listen whenever it’s wanted.

Don’t try to cheer them up with success stories about others. It’s better not to try to cheer them up by sharing stories of others who have succeeded in having a child after miscarriage do this. It may only make them feel even less competent by comparison, and even more frustrated.

Hopefully by bringing awareness to pregnancy and infant loss, we can help to remove the feelings of guilt and stigma, while giving support to our friends and family during a difficult time.