“One thing I know, God’s story never ends with ashes.
Nothing is for nothing.”
― Elisabeth Elliot
Read up on part 1 here where I talked about my journey with grief and a list of don’ts that are helpful when handling someone that’s grieving.
Okay, so now that you know what not to do, what do you do?
1. Give them space
It’s their experience and they need to go through it how it feels best.
Now is not the time to Dr. Seuss them or pull out a guide to grief by Sigmund Freud. Thanks, but no thanks.
If they allow you to enter their grief, enter well, not with your own terms and conditions. It’s a Sahara in there or deep tundra depending on the person. Everything’s thin ice or hot to the touch. Tread carefully.
It’s a matter of trust. And trust is earned.
How you handle them at any stage of their grief will determine what they let you in on.
2. Ask them how you can walk with them, encourage them, help them
Whilst popping in uninvited might work for some, it would be terrible for another.
A conversational gathering might seem helpful to someone but it can feel like an ambush to someone else. It can feel like suffocating and feigning listening while timing just what will send you rushing out the door isn’t helpful. It’s not one size fits all. Can’t stress that enough.
As an aside, I’m the kind of person that’s a party starter. I will make you laugh, change the subject with Oprah-like ease, make everyone comfortable through what’s difficult and soul crushing for me, and no one will know. They’ll just assume that I’m okay and happy when I’m not. This is what happened yesterday. I felt like I was dying and kept wondering what will send me running out the door but instead, I joked and smiled and chimed in. And I died slowly, hence the cab ride venting session.
It’s just how I’ve always coped. Cracking a smile is easier than screaming, “Are you kidding me?! This is BEYOND INSENSITIVE,” and then walking out and leaving everyone in the room wondering, “What’s her deal?” But I have a PhD in playing jester and forgiving the clueless.
But the overall point I was making was that everyone’s needs as they grieve are different. Clarify them to avoid hurting much more than you think you were helping.
3. Grieve with them
If a couple that has gone through a miscarriage shares with you the name they gave the baby or when the baby passed away or when the baby’s due date would have been, take special note of those dates and be extra thoughtful on those days. Treat them, celebrate the birthday of their in-heaven child how they’d want you to. A bracelet with their baby’s name or an encouraging scripture like Psalms 139 would be apt. Better yet, ask if there’s any scripture that encourages them about their loss. A special necklace would be great too.
Remember the days that come before the actual dates tend to be more excruciating than the days themselves. Keep this in mind and be present, not to distract them from what happened but to bring hope and acknowledge the life that was.
4. Inform them about certain meetings or gatherings that can trigger their grief and their agenda beforehand
These include invitations to funeral arrangement discussions, baby showers, pregnancy or parental discussions etc. Knowing this beforehand helps them decide whether to come or not rather than feel ambushed or stay against their will for the meeting or to awkwardly burst into tears.
This is kindness. It’s best to not spring it on them because a scab picked at can quickly need a sling or get them transferred to grief ICU.
5. Share your good news with them
We have the right side of the brain and the left side of the brain, the right side of the heart and the left side of the heart. Grief and joy can exist simultaneously. Grief and hope can be bedfellows.
Don’t be afraid to share your good news with your friend because she’s grieving. She would love to be there for you. But understand if it’s awkward sometimes or if she celebrates with you then weeps a few moments after or the following day.
It’s a swing up in there. There are highs and there are lows. That’s the ride they’re on, and sometimes, you don’t know what’s coming.
As you enter their grief, please don’t deny them the chance to enter your joy. They would love to come in. Yes, it still hurts, but a little sunshine is good for the bones.
Helpful resources (I keep updating this list)
Having said all that, I found these helpful in understanding grief in general or how to be a friend to someone who’s gone through a miscarriage.
- How to not say the wrong thing
- What grieving friends wish you’d say
- Helping yourself and the bereaved
- Founder of Man Repeller online magazine (It’s not anti-guy from the way it sounds and was the original Girlboss online community before Sophia Amoruso started her movement) Leandra Medine’s story of trying to get pregnant and then losing her pregnancy.
- How to love someone who is grieving their child
Song & Video
1. This sermon is everything. EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING!!!
I stumbled upon this accidentally and honestly, I just thank God because it is everything. A great resource for people who’ve gone through a miscarriage especially from a man’s perspective.
2. Hold me Jesus song
I’ve sang this song since I heard it back in high school. Every time panic would set in in my life or whenever I’d feel like I’m fraying, I’d sing the first part of the chorus and find comfort in the Prince of Peace. I only learned the last part of the song, or at least remembered it, early this year.
3. Though you slay me song
I remember hearing this song by Shane and Shane featuring John Piper in 2013 during a foundation class in church.
“I come, I come, return to the Lord, the one who’s broken, the one who’s torn me apart. You strike down to bind me up, you say You do it all in love, that I might know You in Your suffering. Though You slay me, yet I will praise You. Though You take from me, I will bless Your name. Though You ruin me, still I will worship, sing a song to the One who’s all I need.”
Those words stuck with me, haunted me. Even then, I knew my faith hadn’t grown to that Job depth, that Jesus depth, that Isaiah 53 depth. And I was haunted. I was never able to find the words to this song or the name of it till this year. How apt. But I know now how near and loving, and near and bigger than this God is. Do I still struggle believing this? I won’t pretend and say no. This reality is still forming in me. And this song rises up in me long after my tired hallelujah.
But as Aldi Essandjo shares in a book I recommend below, “When God makes Himself invisible to your eyes, it is because He has made Himself visible through your eyes. When you can’t see Him, that’s when He hides within you, for the world to see Him in and through you.”
4. Rob & Kirby Kaple’s tough struggle with infertility
Kirby Kaple, the female vocalist for Housefires, shares her journey of infertility after trying to have a baby for 6 years and being married for ten. She talks about it on Instagram in jumbled up short clips so to keep yáll here (thanks for reading this far into it) I’ll list them in the order of their appearance.
View this post on Instagram
Pain & Grace. It’s here. Link in bio!!! . . . #painandgrace #infertilitysucks #nationalinfertilityawarenessweek #flipthescript #NIAW #infertilitysupport #infertilityjourney #ttccommunity #infertility #infertilitysocialwarrior #saytheFword #ttcsisters #ivfsisters #ivf #ivfjourney #PCOS Video by @maryclairephoto
View this post on Instagram
A little story behind the song. #warpaint . . . #painandgrace #infertilitysucks #nationalinfertilityawarenessweek #flipthescript #NIAW #infertilitysupport #infertilityjourney #ttccommunity #infertility #infertilitysocialwarrior #saytheFword #ttcsisters #ivfsisters #ivf #ivfjourney #PCOS (@maryclairephoto)
View this post on Instagram
A little #painandgrace theology for ya ❤️ . . . #painandgrace #infertilitysucks #nationalinfertilityawarenessweek #flipthescript #NIAW #infertilitysupport #infertilityjourney #ttccommunity #infertility #infertilitysocialwarrior #saytheFword #ttcsisters #ivfsisters #ivf #ivfjourney #PCOS (@maryclairephoto)
View this post on Instagram
@robkaple everybody! In this clip, Rob is quoting @jason_upton saying, “we often want Jesus to be an epidural, but he’s not an epidural, he’s a midwife” 😭❤️ . . . #painandgrace #infertilitysucks #nationalinfertilityawarenessweek #flipthescript #NIAW #infertilitysupport #infertilityjourney #ttccommunity #infertility #infertilitysocialwarrior #saytheFword #ttcsisters #ivfsisters #ivf #ivfjourney #PCOS (@maryclairephoto)
View this post on Instagram
@robkaple … you’re the sweetest! ❤️ . . . #painandgrace #infertilitysucks #nationalinfertilityawarenessweek #flipthescript #NIAW #infertilitysupport #infertilityjourney #ttccommunity #infertility #infertilitysocialwarrior #saytheFword #ttcsisters #ivfsisters #ivf #ivfjourney #PCOS @acrmatlanta (@maryclairephoto)
Her friend and musician that blesses me deeply, Rita Springer, shares a bit on this here. Being bruised beautiful is a journey but oh the works He wrought out of us!
I love these two songs of she and her husband’s journey through infertility.
Both songs are a God send but 28 captures a lot about how to live in the after, especially when you still have empty arms and still need to not give up. I probably listen to it or sing it (in my head) at least once a day.
Books (in order of relevance from best specific to best general)
- Grace like Scarlett by Adriel Booker
- Buried dreams by Lindsey Dennis
- Hannah’s Hope by Jennifer Saake (has great insights for pastors and others on walking with someone dealing with miscarriage, fertility issues etc and the husband chimes in too at the end for the men who get neglected through this process)
- The unspeakable loss: how do you live after a child dies? by Nisha Zenoff
- Walking with God through pain and suffering by Timothy Keller
- Hope in the dark by Craig Groeschel
- Begin Again: The brave practice of releasing hurt and receiving rest by Leeana Tankersly
- The Prophet’s Pain: The inescapable path that leads to God’s glory by Aldi Essandjo
- No more faking fine by Esther Fleece
- In the middle of the mess by Sheila Walsh
- 52 heart lifters for difficult times: promises of hope and encouragement from God by Diana Savage
For the book links above, click the read more section for a book sample or preview.
I hope this article and the resources help shift your mind a little, just enough to walk with someone better, lessen their pain and what not.
I know I wrote this bruised beautiful article sometime back, but mercy Jesus! Mercy please! The end is beautiful, no doubt. But us grief stricken ones are still going through it. Be cognizant of that. Be patient and understanding. It’ll hurt a little less, be a little less fresh and less heavy over time, no doubt. In the meantime, just let us heal. Please.
I hope you’ve found it helpful.
I know how feeling less alone through grief lightens the journey so if you know someone who could use a virtual hug of this nature, send it their way stat!
That’s all folks. Just had to write this one or I’d explode.