A LINE ON LIFE

10/3/93

Miscarriage *

David A. Gershaw, Ph.D.

Grieving for a miscarried child is often more difficult than grieving for someone who dies after birth. Since the deceased was never a separate individual, others often fail to offer adequate social support. What are some of the myths and facts of miscarriage? How can we help others to deal with this tragedy?

Myths

In contrast to what some people believe, the following activities do not contribute to having a miscarriage

Facts

In contrast, here are some facts about miscarriages.

Dealing with a Miscarriage

If a miscarriage does occur, the family especially the mother will go through the stages of grieving found in any death. First of all, avoid making the following statements.

You might feel so awkward and uncomfortable about the miscarriage that you avoid the subject. It is much better to acknowledge what happened. You can deal with the miscarriage directly by saying something like, "I'm sorry to hear about your miscarriage."

After a direct statement of concern, the grieving mother can decide whether she wants to talk about her miscarriage. If she does, let her tell you about the pregnancy and the miscarriage. Letting her express her feelings about these events can be the most helpful thing you can do.

Don't encourage her to use alcohol or drugs to reduce her emotions. Instead, encourage her to be good to herself by eating well and exercising when she feels strong enough. She can allow herself some luxuries a massage, a facial or a manicure.

You could also buy her a book that might help her deal with her miscarriage. Possible choices include the following

You can also urge the grieving parents to attend a support group. Obstetricians or hospital staff can often recommend such groups. Even though "time heals all wounds," the scars still remain. Having other children does not make the person forget the child who was never born.


* Adapted from Dena K. Salmon's "Coping with Miscarriage," Annual Editions: Human Sexuality, 93/94, Dushkin Publishing, 1993, pages 141-143.

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