As Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan’s recent news brought to light, miscarriage is an unfortunately common occurrence for women. There are many statistics floating around about miscarriage risks, but the most relevant is the fact that 15 to 20 percent of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage. Despite the commonality of miscarriage, many women struggle to talk about their experience and cope, especially when friends are pregnant soon after losing their baby. Women who suffered miscarriage want to be there to support their friends going through pregnancy, but the emotions are hard to deal with. Here are some tips on handling your friend’s pregnancy after you have suffered a miscarriage.
1. Don’t feel guilty
Coping with miscarriage comes with its own feelings of guilt that you should not harbor. Sometimes women feel jealous or angry at their pregnant friends, then immediately feel guilty about these emotions. You have to remember you have a right to feel anything you want to or need to in order to cope, but feeling guilty is unfair to you. It is normal to go through these emotions and you should not feel guilty about feeling angry or upset at things out of your control.
2. Remember how you felt
When approaching an event or get-together with your pregnant friend, remember the excitement and happiness you felt when you found out you were pregnant. Try to remember how she is feeling and what she is experiencing when things get hard to deal with. If it ever gets too difficult, excuse yourself and regroup in another room or the bathroom. If you want to be there for your friend, no matter what you are going through, this is the best way to go about it.
3. Avoid if necessary
If you do feel emotions such as anger or guilt that you can’t control, it is often best to avoid your pregnant friends for a little while. Hopefully, they will understand why you are not around as much as you were before. You need some time to cope with your emotions before trying to put yourself in damaging or painful situations around pregnant friends. As a friend recently told me, “Never apologize for doing what you needed to do to survive.”
4. Be open and honest
If you are close to your friend and planning on being involved in her pregnancy and, ultimately, in the child’s life, the best route is to be open and honest. If you are experiencing difficult emotions and are feeling the need to stay away to cope, then you need to tell your friend so that she doesn’t feel upset. Explain why you are not going to be around and why. It is always good to express how much you love her and how excited you are for her, but there are some things you have to sort through before you can become more involved.
5. Practice patience
Because women often do not express the fact that they suffered a loss they need to deal with, they try to jump back into life as if nothing happened. If you are trying this, remember you did suffer a loss and that means you need time to grieve. Just because life doesn’t slow down doesn’t mean you have to keep racing as well. Yes, your friend is pregnant, but that doesn’t mean your loss doesn’t exist. Be patient about going through your grieving period. It will take some time before you are able to celebrate life with your pregnant friend.
Nicole Witt is the creator of Beyond Infertility, a community support site and online magazine geared towards families who have gone through infertility. You can visit the website at BeyondInfertility.com. She is also the owner of The Adoption Consultancy.