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After a friend suffers the trauma of miscarriage, it can be hard to know what to do or say. In this article, Cruse Scotland Area Manager, Nicola Reed, offers advice about how to support someone grieving for their baby.
October 13, 2021
Pregnancy and baby loss is not easy for anyone – the mum, the dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles…
The waves, and ripples, of loss and grief can be many and wide, or very small and tight… perhaps depending on the stage of pregnancy… or the distance between those relationships.
When those waves, and ripples, of grief clash and interfere with each other it can be really difficult to navigate safely through the turbulence of each other’s grief - although it may be a shared grief, it is more often than not experienced in very different ways at different times.
But what if we are the friend along the way?
What is our role when we draw alongside the devastation that falls when a pregnancy ends sooner than it should... or it is a coffin, and not a crib, that is filled?
This is not an easy place to be. But it is a powerful, powerful place to be.
Friends can be lifelines in those stormy, turbulent waters of grief. Sometimes acting as driftwood to be clung onto when the storm hits… sometimes being the safe shores for the waves to crash onto… and sometimes being the ones to notice the ripples that extend on and on.
As friends, however, we can often feel quite helpless in the “what can I do?” space. Earlier this year, I received just that question and this is where that conversation went:
“It is relentlessly sad… and I think trying to communicate that you recognise that will be a huge thing for her to hear. Many will shy away in the not knowing what to do or say… reaching out will be well met.
I would think about what your 'normal' friend space looks like. My mind often turns to 'love languages' at points like this: is she a gift person… or a time together person… is she a liker of notes/cards… does she like things to be done for her… is she a hugger? Somehow sending her or offering her something that matches that, in some way, might land well. Some things are less easy when geography is a factor, but also not impossible.
Do you know her well enough to know some of her favourite things, be that food, chocolate, drinks? Something that communicates that you are really thinking about her.
In whatever you do, acknowledge the loss and share your sadness for her. If communication opens up, just give her space. If she has other support in place, that is a good thing, but still having your safe pair of ears alongside can be a really valuable thing.”
If you have a friend who is hurting, I would encourage you to take a brave step and open the conversation – be the driftwood… be the safe shore… be the one who sees the ripples that extend beyond where many see.
And look after yourself too. You sit somewhere in the mix of storms, waves and ripples - and that is not easy either.
For a list of resources related to miscarriage and baby loss, click here.
If you need support with your grief, no matter when the bereavement occurred, call our free helpline: 0808 802 6161 or start a webchat on this site.
Nicola Reed - Cruse Scotland Area Manager & Volunteer
Nicola, after a 20 year career as a chartered accountant, joined the Cruse Scotland staff team as an Area Manager in April 2019. Alongside this shift from the corporate to the charity world, she also embarked on a counselling diploma, clocking up some of her placement hours with Cruse as a volunteer. This is all not as strange as it may as seem - for many years Nicola has been actively involved with a local Dundee charity which offers pregnancy and baby loss counselling and listening support - so her passion for seeing people well supported through bereavement has always been a driving force for her. In her “free time”, Nicola enjoys lots of different things – cooking, writing, crochet, parkrun, church and sometimes she even spares a bit of time for her husband and two girls!