Miscarriage is hard. Families struggle with it all the time. It’s completely normal for it to impact and hurt everybody, not just the mother. Fathers, partners, children, grandparents can all be emotionally impacted by the loss of a child. So much support is focused on mothers (rightly so), but other members of your family need help too. Here is some advice to help your entire family heal after a miscarriage.
Helping the Mother
Mothers are often the most impacted in a miscarriage. They felt the flutters, suffered the morning sickness, and connected earliest with the child.
Making sure they get the emotional support they need is a must. If you are an emotional supporter for the mother, like a husband, parent, or close friend, be there when she needs you. Be a shoulder to cry on, help make her life easier, and try to keep her in good spirits.
Another area for concern is making sure the mother stays healthy during and after a miscarriage. Along with the normal health issues women are at risk for, keep an eye out for possible complications that happen after a miscarriage. This can include things like excessive bleeding, infection, and depression. It’s possible that the mother will try to hide these symptoms because of embarrassment, so try to be as open and supportive as possible. That way, if something is wrong, they are willing to get help and support from you.
Support the Father, Even if He Acts Like He Doesn’t Need It
While a miscarriage hits the mother hardest, fathers (or partners) are similarly affected too. They grieve, feel guilty, are unsure what to do, and feel fear about their partner getting pregnant in the future.
During and after a miscarriage, fathers often feel like they need to push aside their emotions and suffering and focus on the mothers That support is good, but it also means they never get a chance to properly grieve in their own manner. They bury their emotions, which can cause mental health and relationship problems in the future.
Give the father a chance to focus on their own emotions. If you are the mother, that means putting your own emotions on hold, and helping him express his own. If you are a close family member or friend, spend time talking to him. Give him a chance to vent or explain what is happening to him without judgement of his emotions.
Sometimes, he’ll just need time to be himself. Take him out to do an activity he really enjoys, spend time with friends, or have a date night so the spouse and he can have some time alone.
Explaining to Children What Happened
Miscarriages don’t happen exclusively to first-time parents. Many parents who already have children experience miscarriages, both early and later on in pregnancy. If the children know about the baby, it’s likely they are getting excited for it, and the news of the miscarriage could be devastating to them. Talking to your child is not easy, and everybody involved needs to be on the same page.
The most important thing is to make sure the children know they are still loved. They will need lots of hugs and support from everybody: parents, grandparents, teachers, and family friends. Make sure people they interact with on a regular basis know what happened so it’s not being constantly brought up.
Be truthful and calm when telling kids what happened during the miscarriage. Be upfront with them, tell them there won’t be a baby, but everything is still going to be OK with the family. Help them understand why it happened and shower them with love.
For many children, this might be their first experience with a tragedy or loss. Many won’t know how to act. Encourage them to share their feelings and cry about it. Tell and show them it’s OK to be sad and let their emotions show. Teach them how to cope with loss and be there to support them. The children might have strange reactions to the news, and if any of them don’t seem to be coping well, consider taking them to a therapist for help.
Have the Whole Family Do Activities Together
Don’t let this miscarriage cripple the family. Have it be an event in your life that brings your family closer together. By supporting each other, love will grow in the family and everybody will come feel closer.
While those involved will never forget, you will need to move past it. Focusing your life on a tragedy isn’t healthy and can lead to serious depression. Take steps to recover as a family and help you heal. Maybe take a last-minute vacation, plan some exciting family activities, or volunteer in your community to do some good. Get moving, do something fun, and enjoy the company of your family.
Photo credit: Flickr / katgrigg