Miscarriage is traumatic and heartbreaking and affects 15 to 20 percent of pregnant women. For many military spouses, miscarriages can occur when their partners are away on duty, and their military community comes together to support them. How can you best support a mom after a miscarriage?
That support will look different based on the needs and feelings of the mother, but there are some ways you can support a mom after a miscarriage that are fairly universal and will keep supporting her past the early days of her loss.
Support During First Three Months After Loss
This is a pivotal, raw, and intense time for a mother who miscarried. Whether it’s her first or one of many, your presence will make a difference. This is the time she won’t want to eat and may not feel the energy to make meals even if she did want to eat, so bringing meals or organizing a meal train for her will help make sure she keeps her nutrition up.
Contact her — in person, by text, by phone, or by email. So often, we worry about not wanting to bother someone, but the reality is that if she doesn’t want to talk, respond, or visit, she won’t. Knowing you are making an attempt will mean so much to her, though, and give her the opportunity to talk and share as she needs to.
In that vein, talk with her about it. Of course, take her lead with how much and how involved she wants you, but it’s so hard when people pretend a loss didn’t even happen in the name of trying not to upset someone. Trust that she knows what’s happened, and if she wants to talk about it, not shying away can help her grieve. She may not want to talk, but continuing to give her the opportunity will be a gift.
The first few months after loss nothing will feel normal. Continue to invite her to things, laugh with her, share your own problems and concerns. All of that will help give her a piece of normalcy again, so will asking her if you can help her with anything she may find painful. Depending on how far along in the pregnancy she was, she may have things she’ll need to pack up or put away, and if you offer your assistance in those things, she’ll feel supported. She may want to do that all by herself, but again, the gift of your offering will be priceless.
Support After the First Three Months
For many mothers, this will be when they start feeling like things are a bit more normal (or at least they find they’re adjusting to their new normal), but they’ll still very likely be grieving. Physically and emotionally, mothers who miscarry still have many of the same postpartum effects, even though their baby died. They may still feel fatigued from grief and life, so continuing to give them offers to help with things like child care or errand running, and the offers of “Let me know if you need anything,” will be far less occurring than when they were right after her loss.
During these months, where things are becoming more normal (but they’re nowhere near normal), random acts of kindness will be so meaningful. Bring flowers, text randomly telling her you’re thinking of her, send cards. Remind her that you still remember that she suffered a loss, and you’re there for her however she might need you. Try to be purposeful in creating coffee and lunch dates, and continue to recognize dates that may be hard for her (her due date, Mother’s Day, holidays, etc.) with gestures that show you remember her loss and honor her feelings.
Consistent and Continued Support
Today, more organizations and resources exist to help mothers who have experienced miscarriage and pregnancy loss than ever before. Mainstream media publications regularly post articles about mothers who experience miscarriage and child loss, and entire publications like Still Standing Magazine and Share exist to support those mothers. That’s a sad, but great thing, and you too can find resources there to help your friend continually. Miscarriage most likely will differently shape who she will be for the rest of her life.
Most importantly, your recognition and support will make such a difference in how it shapes her. In days and years to come, she’ll look back at those days of loss and remember who stood in the gap for her — especially if her partner was not available to be there because of military work obligations. She’ll be thankful that in hard times, she learned firsthand what people mean when they say military communities come together. Though she’ll wish it was for a different reason, that she had that support and encouragement will be something for which she’ll always be grateful.
Postpartum Depression may be another time when a mom in your military community needs your support, but you may not know how. If you know a mom facing PPD, we have suggestions of how you can help.
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