I had a phone call last week from a very distressed mum. She was ringing on behalf of her daughter and son in law who had recently just suffered a miscarriage at 17 weeks. She could hardly talk on the phone through her tears, the journey clearly impacting her personally also but she wanted to make a counseling appointment for them. It was a difficult phone conversation because her purpose was for someone else and yet her grief was palpable through the phone and I couldn’t ignore it. I made the appointment and then asked her “how can I help you?”
We know that the experience of pregnancy loss, and infertility is excruciating for couples, but more often than not they have a “pit crew” aka family, friends standing on the sidelines feeling very inadequate and loss themselves. Can I just encourage and say thank you for all that you do, for the burden you often carry in silence.
I am pleased to say this phone call turned into a counseling appointment being made for this precious Mum, she acknowledged the anxiety, worry and sadness was getting harder to hide as the years have passed. I was so humbled and thrilled that she recognized she too matters.
Perhaps there are many of you reading this who also have sisters, brothers, besties going through this and you are not sure what to do and wouldn’t consider coming to counseling. Here are my top 5 “what not to do” that I hope might be handy:
- Acknowledge the situation, don’t avoid or ignore and please don’t offer, “Everything will be fine” or “Just relax” advice.
- Be sensitive to pain and stress. Provide extra “grace” for poor behavior or perceived over reactions
- Don’t make decisions in “their best interest”: they can choose not to attend family functions, baby showers, mothers day lunches.
- Always keep the lines of communications open. It is not a good idea to hide pregnancies within the family “out of kindness”. Tact, kindness and privacy can go a long way to soften any difficult news.
- Respect boundaries. Some couples are an open book, others a nailed shut version.
Actually I have sneaky #six: Thank you for all that you do, for the unspoken, the tears you have shed and even the awkward “I don’t know what to do” moments. You matter, and they need you!