Tuesday, April 24, 2007

After a Miscarriage: Supporting Friends & Family Through Loss

A loss of a child is considered one of the deepest pains, regardless of a child's age. The pain of what would have been is often the most difficult to embrace and work through. Family and friends often feel helpless when someone close to them experiences a miscarriage because no one has any control over it or can prevent it from happening. When a miscarriage occurs, society's attitude is to not talk about it, in fear that it's too upsetting. However, not talking about it only makes it harder to move on.

A miscarriage leaves a woman in a state of physical and emotional readiness for a baby that will never be. Grief is a natural process which has no exact time frame and is experienced in unique ways by different individuals. Supporting a grieving person does not mean you can take away the pain, but you may be able to help lighten the stress by being more aware and well informed.

What do I say? How can I help?
Often parents who are experiencing a miscarriage turn to the baby's grandparents, other family members, friends and professionals (including nurses, clergy, and health care providers,) but can't find the words to express the kind of support they need. As a supportive person, you may feel helpless, threatened or vulnerable. You may even want to avoid dealing with the loss or wish the parents would hide their grief. You can turn these natural feelings into support for the grieving family or friend.

How Can Family and Friends Show Support?
* Listen, Listen, Listen! A person who has experienced a miscarriage may need to tell his/her story repeatedly. Show you care by your attentiveness, gestures, and eye contact.
* Be prepared to talk about the baby. Hearing others say the name helps a grieving person heal.
* Know when to be silent... sometimes it is best to say nothing at all. A grieving person may just want someone to listen.
* Be aware that grief has physical reactions as well as emotional reactions on the body. Physical reactions include: poor appetite, disturbed sleep patterns, restlessness, low energy, and other pains. Emotional reactions may include: panic, persistent fears, nervousness and nightmares. Encourage your friend or family member to call you or reach out when they experience these feelings.
* Encourage the grieving person to express pain and stress. By working through feelings such as anger, guilt, sadness, doubt and frustration, the normal process of grief and healing occurs. Continue to encourage communication.
* Understand that grief is an individual process that is bound by no exact time frame. This frame of time involves finding ways of living with memories and the pain associated with the loss.
* Reassure the grieving person that their feelings and reactions are normal and necessary for healing.
* Remember that specific dates or events such as the anniversary of the loss or the expected due date, may trigger an emotional response. Encourage communication during this time. Perhaps a card or small remembrance.

Full article: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyloss/mcsupportingothers.html

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