"Giving is the secret of a healthy life . . . whatever (one) has of
encouragement and sympathy and understanding."
John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller
In my estimation, the Church should be a woman's best support group. In the aftermath of a miscarriage, other believing women should surround the mourner with comfort and support. Here are some tips that might help women do just that.
Use your own pain to reach out to others.
Some mothers' losses have compelled them to reach out to others in a huge way. They form national organizations to build awareness and raise funds. Others may not be inclined to reach out in a public way, but rather choose to help another individual in a quiet way, as in a phone call, a meal, a hug, or an offer to help with housework or the other children.
Know that each person grieves differently.
Be patient. Allow the woman time and freedom to work out her grief. Some days she may be "up," other days "down." She may appear to be advancing through the grieving stages and then suddenly regress. What comforts one person may cause pain for another. Balance times of attention with solitude. The mourner needs time alone to process her feelings.
Be sensitive to what the woman needs.
She may not always have the emotional energy to tell you. If you sense she wants to be alone, honor her wishes. If she wants a listening ear, be there for her.
Allow those closest to the woman to do the bulk of the comforting.
If you weren't that close to the woman before her loss, you may not be the one to enter her world now. A card might be sufficient. Ask others if the woman has family and friends who are caring for her.
Be open to tears.
Sometimes, tears make us uncomfortable. But remember, even Jesus wept at Lazarus' tomb. He identified with Mary and Martha's pain. Tears can speak volumes when words can't.
Offer a hug.
Physical touch can provide healing. But ask permission first. Some are protective of their space and possessive of their grief, especially in the early stages.
Be available in the weeks and months that follow the loss.
It's never too late to send a thoughtful card, in which you my share a comforting scripture or simply remind the woman that you are praying. Ask the person out to lunch or go on a walk together. Offer practical help if you are able. Phone to see how she is getting along.
Many words can cause further grief. Don't try to hurry her healing or "fix" her pain. You can't. Only God can. And it takes time. Resist the urge to tell her you know how she feels. Only God understands how she really feels. A simple, "I'm so sorry for your loss, I'll be praying," is sufficient. Remember Job's friends ridiculed as lousy comforters? They did do one thing right--they came and sat with him for seven days and did not speak. How many of us would be that committed to easing someone's pain?
Talk about the baby.
Let the woman know that you value the life she carried. That little one has significance and a purpose.
Don't minimize the loss with glib statements.
When we miscarried, we heard well-intentioned comments like, "You're young, you can have another child." Knowing that did not ease the pain over the child we had just lost. It will help ease frustration during your own times of grief if you understand that some feel uncomfortable around grief and try to speed up the healing process. Essential to a mourner's emotional well-being is time to adequately grieve one loss before moving on to the next phase of life. Don't rush her, but don't avoid her either because you feel uncertain how to respond. Being there is enough. God will do the work of healing.
Finally, one of the best things you can do for the hurting woman is pray for her and with her.
Prayer unleashes God's power to work and creates a bond of fellowship unlike any other. Sometimes the woman is simply too numb to hear our words, but a simple heartfelt prayer asking for God's grace and peace to bathe the hurting one can bring comfort. A prayer of thanksgiving for the life she carried can reassure her that you remember and validiate that little one's earthly existence.
(Adapted from When Mourning Comes, Living Through Loss, (C) Chuck and Eileen Rife)