A little over 11 years ago, my wife miscarried with our second child. Ever since then, God in his kind providence has provided opportunity after opportunity for my wife and I to minister to other couples who have experienced this unique loss. As common as this kind of loss is, it is stunning how many well-meaning people have no idea how to best care for those who have lost an unborn baby.
Here are a few tips for those interested in knowing helpful ways to care for a couple who have just experienced this loss and be sensitive to the pain they feel.
1. Embrace the seriousness of this loss.
The natural instinct of so many is to try to lessen the impact of the loss. The most common approach to accomplish this is to say things like, “Well, you know this is very common,” or “At least you were very early in your pregnancy.” These comments are meant to be helpful, but unfortunately what they typically do is diminish the seriousness of a loss like this. The best way to care for a woman who has experienced a miscarriage is to recognize the seriousness of the loss and the legitimate sorrow she should be feeling.
2. Encourage both husband and wife to grieve.
Moments after my wife and I found out we had lost the baby, my father (a family doctor) sat us down and explained to us how important it was that we grieved over this loss. That sounded strange to me because the child had not been born yet. We had not known the child like our other. But my father explained how important it was that we still talked about who the child would have acted like and who the child would have looked like. He urged us to be sad over the loss and to grieve over the loss of this child just like any other major loss in our life.
It was freeing that someone told us it was OK, even good, to take time to grieve. That was essential for us to deal with the loss and move forward from it.
3. Instruct the husband on how to care for his wife.
Husbands can lack discernment in knowing how to care for their wives. There are two important roles a husband must play. First, instruct a husband to be patient toward his wife’s adjustment to this loss. A woman not only has the loss to deal with, but a woman cannot escape all the physical signs of this loss.
Many women have to have a medical procedure called a DNC that helps remove the remains of the baby that may not pass on their own. Women also have the hormonal changes that begin with pregnancy, which take time to change back when the body rejects the fetus. Second, urge a husband to allow his wife to see him grieve. I failed at this as I was trying to be strong for my wife, but what my wife really needed was to know I too was sad over the loss.