Nourishing Friendship After Miscarriage

My best friend, Emily, and I were three weeks apart in our due dates. We talked non-stop about our weird pregnancy symptoms, nursey designs, and future plans to make our babies BFFs just like us.

Except I lost my baby, and she went on to have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a beautiful baby boy.

Read Sadie’s Story Here

One of the hardest things to navigate after my miscarriage was relationships with my friends who went on to have healthy pregnancies.

I’m approaching this topic carefully and sensitively because I recognize that no one grieves the same, and no two friendships are the same. I’m not a therapist or an expert on grief. I’m just a friend and a loss momma who had to learn how to navigate these murky waters.

This blog is:

  • For the loss momma who is grieving her baby and may feel like a friendship will never be the same.
  • For the mom who may feel resentful that her baby is gone while everyone else seems to be having happy and healthy pregnancies.

But, this blog is also:

  • For the woman on the other side who is struggling to comfort her grieving friend.
  • For the friend who may feel torn between feeling extremely guilty yet grateful for the growing baby in her arms or in her belly.

I’m so grateful that Emily encouraged me to talk about this on the blog and allowed me to share details of our friendship in hopes that it may help other women with a similar story.

Nourishing a Friendship After Miscarriage

Communication is Key

Friendship is like a marriage. Communicating is key to ensure that you aren’t misunderstood.

A few days after losing Sadie, Emily tentatively shared with me that baby Logan had an issue with his kidney that would require visits to the high-risk OBGYN.

This led us to set communication standards. How were we going to navigate these next few months as Emily’s pregnancy progressed while I grieved? I could sense the hesitation in her voice as she shared about Logan’s kidney issue. I remember tearfully telling her on the phone, “just because we lost Sadie, doesn’t mean that I don’t still care about you and Logan.” 

That lead Emily to share that she felt extremely guilty. Some may call it survivor’s guilt. Why did Sadie die? Why you and not me? She questioned.

To the friend: It’s normal to feel guilty and at loss for words when all you want to do is comfort your friend. You may feel an urge to disappear with your guilt and give the loss momma “her space.” If she has asked you for this then respect her request. However, many people assume their grieving friend needs space when they really just need you to be there, to show up, and to cry with them. Don’t just say “I’m here if you need me.” Ask your friend, specifically, how you can support her during this time.

To the loss momma: Try to set clear communication standards from the beginning. Be honest with your feelings. If you need space for a few weeks or months, tell her that. If you want her to talk about your baby and check in on you every once in a while, tell her that too.

Don’t Walk on Eggshells

One of the hardest parts of miscarriage is that so many people don’t know how to talk about it, if they should, or what to say.

Unfortunately, this often left me feeling like the elephant in the room making everyone uncomfortable.

graphic showing two stick figures with an elephant between them with the words "dead baby"

I realize that miscarriage is a difficult topic, but acknowledging someone’s pain helps them feel less alone.

You will not make it worse by bringing it up. If the loss momma doesn’t want to talk about it, she will usually tell you (either verbally or through body language).

But, don’t assume that she doesn’t want to talk about it.

Emily and I share almost everything with each other, so her silence and avoidance would have hurt way more than anything she could have ever said to me.

To the friend: Bring up her baby often. If they named the baby, use his/her name. There are many ways you can honor her baby, too. Since our loss was around the holidays, Emily surprised me with a Christmas tree angel ornament with Sadie’s name. It doesn’t have to be big or grand. Small acknowledgments make a big difference.

To the loss momma: Remember that your friend probably means well even if she may have mistakenly said something hurtful. If you feel like your friend is walking on eggshells around you, just be honest and tell her how you feel. If you want to talk about what happened to you, your baby, or how you’re feeling, share that desire with your friend.

Set Boundaries

Two months after our loss, Emily shared that her sister would be sending out her baby shower invites soon.

She was open and honest that she did not want me to feel excluded or left out but completely understood if I did not want to come to her shower for whatever reason. Please just do what is best for you, she said.

For those two months leading up to it, I was hopeful that I’d be able to make it to the shower.

The morning of, Emily texted me to ask me how I was doing and to remind me to do whatever I needed to do today to take care of myself. I’m doing surprisingly well! I texted back. See you in a bit!

Well, grief is a sneaky bastard. And I learned that day how quickly it can sneak up on you.

Halfway into the drive, I exited the highway and parked my car. I sobbed on my steering wheel thinking how I would be surrounded by pregnant women and baby things. I felt torn between wanting to support my friend, but not wanting to make everyone there uncomfortable. I grieved that my baby shower should have been two weeks later. I thought about how I should be 6 months pregnant along with the rest of the girls.

I called my husband, talked it over, and decided to turn around and go home. I sent Emily’s sister (who was organizing the shower) a brief text telling her that I couldn’t make it and had to go home.

And guess what? That is completely valid. Because we set boundaries beforehand, I knew that Emily would not be upset at me for changing my mind at the last minute.

To the friend: Understand that milestones like baby showers and due dates may be extremely difficult for your friend. You might remind her of what she lost and is desperately missing. Know that she may not be able to ask you about your pregnancy or about your baby for a while, and this is not because she doesn’t care, but because she is grieving. Don’t be afraid to have those hard conversations beforehand. If you’re uncertain how an event or circumstance will impact the loss momma, just ask her. Having that clarity beforehand will really help in the long run.

To the loss momma: Many days, I couldn’t talk about Emily’s pregnancy. So I didn’t. But, I wanted Emily to know that I still cared about her, even if it was just one or two short text exchanges. Listen to your heart and don’t force any conversations that may end up making you feel worse. If you are not at a point where you can ask about your friend’s baby or pregnancy, consider sending her a text telling her that. Example: Hi friend. You and baby have been on my heart lately. But, I’m not emotionally ready to talk about your pregnancy yet. Please know that my avoidance isn’t because I don’t care, but just that I am grieving and processing. 

Pray for Eachother

One of the main ways Emily and I have nourished our friendship during this time is through prayer. When you don’t know what to say, or how to comfort your friend, just tell them you’re praying for them (and then actually do it).

I know not all friendships share similar beliefs, but this has truly been the most nourishing thing for us.

While I was deep in my grief, my prayers often looked like distressed conversations vs. typical “prayer requests.” Sometimes I felt so sad that I just couldn’t pray. When your faith feels shaky, ask your friends to pray for you instead, and to help hold you up.

On the outside, prayer may seem like you’re asking God to support your friend. But on the inside, prayer does things for you too. God uses prayer to pull you closer into a relationship with Him, and he uses it to heal you and transform your heart.

To the friend: If you don’t know what to say to your friend to comfort her, just pray. Ask God to comfort her and give her peace and hope during this time. Ask Him to help her feel His presence and remember who He is – her healer, her rock and refuge, her salvation. Seek guidance on how to be there for her, and how to best nourish your friendship during this time.

To the loss momma: For nearly two months, I cried every single time I prayed for Emily, her pregnancy, and baby Logan. It’s okay to feel happy for your friend but still grieve. It’s also okay to NOT feel happy for your friend at certain times, but know that it’s BECAUSE you are grieving. Bring all of your thoughts, emotions, and questions to God. And then spend time reflecting and listening for his voice or guidance.

We Need Healthy Friendships to Survive This World

This chapter of your friendship probably feels impossible. I wish it was different. I wish we didn’t have to face the unfathomable pain of losing a baby.

But, we need healthy friendships to survive this world.

During this time of grieving, you may need to take a break from some of your friendships, and that is okay. However, if you feel like space apart from your pregnant friend will only make you feel more alone, then reach out to her. Together, try to establish communication standards, set honest boundaries, and pray for each other.

Not all friendships survive the trials we face in our life. But if they do, many of them will be stronger and more life-giving than ever. I know ours is.

Hang in there, friend.

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3 years ago

Thanks for opening up and sharing this incredibly helpful post you two. This is such a challenging topic and one that I’m sure many seek guidance on. Your willingness to be open and honest with each other is a true sign of a lasting friendship and it shows. All my love to you both!