One in four women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime. It’s a startling statistic, especially given that miscarriage is such a taboo topic. We don’t like to talk about it, but we all know someone who has suffered miscarriage—we may have even suffered the loss of a preborn child ourselves. When someone we love is in pain, we want to reach out, but what can we do? Jim Otremba joined Morning Air® to offer some advice and practical ways to support someone suffering after a miscarriage.
“Because our brains are different, then therefore we are going to grieve differently, males and females will grieve differently. I really believe that the women who have carried these babies have bonded with these babies and I believe that their grief is probably more difficult than the guy’s grief. Not to minimize the dad’s grief, not at all I’m not saying that, I’m just saying it’s different,” says Otremba, a licensed independent clinical social worker who is no stranger to the pain of miscarriage – he and his wife have suffered seven miscarriages.
One of the best ways to offer support is to simply listen. “So how I grieved was I had to first find males who could validate my pain, and that can be hard in this society,” explains Otremba. “So, if you have a friend who’s going through a miscarriage, please listen intently and validate their pain. Don’t try to fix it because there’s nothing you can do to fix it.”
It’s also important to know what to say and what not to say. “I really believe the best thing we can says is, ‘I’m sorry for your loss.’ It’s similar to going to a funeral. Because that’s what we’re doing—we are remembering the death of a human person,” says Otremba.
When someone is grieving, they likely aren’t looking to you for an explanation or a solution, and offering them one can do more harm than good, no matter if you are well intentioned. “We have heard things over the years that have increased the pain, to be honest with you,” says Otremba. While it may be true that ‘things could be worse’ or ‘everything happens for a reason’, saying those things to someone grieving the loss of their baby is not helpful.
Matthew called from Wisconsin to share the story of his daughter whom he and his wife lost through miscarriage. “We both highly value life, so we said, we want to give her a name and we named her Sarah Therese. And then we decided to have a funeral … and we were just amazed by our community. We expected a handful of people to come to the funeral and there were 400 people at the funeral. We were looking around and we were seeing that we were grieving, but in the midst of that, our daughter in her short life was still ministering to others. We had one of our relatives some up and say, ‘In the sixties, I lost a child and they didn’t even say it was a child. And coming to this funeral has helped me heal those wounds.’”
Saint Catherine of Siena, patron saint against miscarriage, pray for us!