A friend of mine suffered a miscarriage. The following features the reactions of those around her. I admit I’m appalled, and dismayed, and just a little bit bewildered; not because I can’t begin to even know how something as sad as this feels, but more about the crappy behaviour of people who are meant to care.
So there’s the first judgement. I make no apology, I believe in calling shit out, and where behaviour has been unkind, thoughtless, or just plain insensitive I see no point in pretending it’s anything other than unacceptable.
Maybe it’s because we Brits are so buttoned-up emotionally, or completely hopeless when encountering the death of someone close, who knows, what I do know is how never to react to a woman who’s experienced this sad event.
Let me describe –
- Never cross the street to avoid her
- Never fake having seen her by keeping your eyes averted
- Never ‘don’t mention it’ in case it upsets her
- Never change the subject if she wants to talk about it
- Never just ignore it ever happened
- Never offer platitudes i.e. you’re young enough to start again, it’s God’s will, it’s not your time, it’s probably for the best, there was obviously something wrong with it …..
- Never start your sentence with “at least”. Compassion rarely starts with the words ‘at least’
- Never compare her loss with the death of your cat/dog/hamster/rabbit. It does not help
- Never ask if the doctors have discovered something wrong with her ‘baby bits’
And so to end on what to do –
- Send a card
- Send flowers (or something more personal and thoughtful if you know them well)
- Call her – reach out
- Give her space to talk
- Allow her tears
- Sit with her pain. Do not seek to remove it, diminish it, or fix it
- Be present
- Be honest (if you don’t know what to say, tell them exactly that, it’s OK)
- Be kind