Friday, June 10, 2011

How to Give/Receive Help in Times of Loss

When I went through my miscarriage almost three months ago, I realized quickly that there are not a lot of resources out there to help someone deal with all of the thoughts and feelings of grief, guilt, anger, and sadness. The night after my surgery, I remember walking into Borders in a pair of ratty sweat pants and an old tee-shirt with red-rimmed eyes and dark circles underneath those eyes, on a mission to find a book on how to deal with the emotional pain I was experiencing. ...Because that is how I deal with "stuff." I read about it. I learn as much as I can about it. I figure "it" out and make sense of it. Unfortunately, though, miscarriage is one of those frustrating things in life that can't really, truly be figured out (for the most part). As I was crouched down on my knees in the middle of the bookstore looking through books on loss and not finding a single one about miscarriage, it ocurred to me that there probably aren't many books out there on the subject because A) there aren't definitive answers to "why" miscarriage happens - sure, there are risk factors, but the doc can't do a sonogram and determine exactly what caused your pregnancy to end... and B) a lot of the feelings that you do experience through a miscarriage are the same as those that you experience when someone dies - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I ended up finding that the best way for me to deal with my feelings was/is through journaling, or blogging. I don't doubt that people have questioned my decision to keep up with the blog, especially when I've shared my deepest thoughts that, quite honestly, make even me feel a little uncomfortable when I go back and re-read some of those dark entries from back in March/April. But it is my hope, as my Aunt Penny reminded me this week, that one day, my experience will help someone else with what they are going through. I hope that others find through sharing my experiences that Christ really is the only hope we have, and He is the only one who can give us the strength and comfort that we need to press on in such despairing times.

Flowers and cards that we received during our time of loss. Such a beautiful display symbolizing the support network of friends and family that God has blessed us with!

Now - since I'm at a place in my grieving that I can look back on my miscarriage and reflect on what happened, I realize that there are a lot of people around me who really just didn't have any idea how to help me or what to say. So, I thought I'd share a few ideas based on my experience of ways that you can help someone going through a miscarriage (or experiencing any other kind of intense grief/loss):
  • Go and visit her at home. Be so kind as to give a little notice before you pull up the driveway, though, so that she can "pull herself together."
  • Ask what her favorite meal is and fix it. Her energy level will not be the greatest after a miscarriage.
  • Offer to help her with some housework. (Goes back to the low energy level).
  • Tell her it's OK to be sad around you. This will help her to be honest with her feelings of grief and will keep her from surpressing those feelings of depression or denying them.
  • When you talk about her loss, don't refer to the baby as "it." Just because the baby wasn't carried to full-term doesn't mean that he/she is devoid of value.
  • Don't avoid her. She needs you to communicate with her. If she wants to talk about the baby, don't change the subject. It hurts more if you don't reach out to her.
  • Pray for her, and tell her exactly, specifically how you are praying. This will help to build her up spiritually.
  • Invite her to go out. Don't assume that she's too weak or too "down" to join you. Chances are, she'd love to join you.
...And to the woman experiencing the miscarriage:

Be honest and specific with people when they ask if they can help you. When your friends and family want to serve you, receive their expressions of love - don't reject them. ...And if people aren't offering help, don't be afraid to ask for it. You'll need it. It won't be easy, believe me. But as you honestly share your heart with others, your life will be enriched, others will be blessed, and you'll be able to process through your loss. And don't forget that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you more than you know, who has a plan and purpose for your life, who "works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

Until next time... xoxox

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