It can be difficult to see a loved one going through a painful experience. These types of comments are meant to be upbeat, happy, funny, or help the person see their experience from a new perspective.
But even though comments like these are meant to minimize emotional pain, it can actually feel like the person is trying to minimize the experience itself and the grief that comes along with it. This makes the person in pain feel as though they’re not allowed to grieve deeply because they should be looking at the silver linings instead.
Sometimes allowing yourself to grieve is one of the hardest parts of infertility or miscarriage. Grief is a natural part of these experiences. It’s a natural – and healthy – part of life. If you’re the one that needs to grieve, let yourself.
Write out your feelings or find someone you can talk to, someone who won’t judge you when you say shocking or alarming things as part of your grieving process (like a faith-based crisis or simply feeling hatred or bitterness toward those around you who aren’t going through it).
If your loved one is going through this, be there for her. Lend her your listening ear. Let her get it all out, unfiltered and raw. Sometimes that alone can lift a portion of the weight off her shoulders.
Remind her that she doesn’t have to look at the silver linings yet and to take the grieving process one step at a time. Most importantly, tell her that you’re there to listen whenever she needs to talk.
Part of the grieving and healing processes requires finding hope in the future. It may not be the hope of having children, but it can be a hope to feel whole again, to feel happy, or even simply content. Many people who say these types of comments are trying to make the person feel better by offering hopeful statements.
The problem is that they are shared when the person is still in the thick of grief. They haven’t gotten to the stage yet where they can even begin to feel hope in the future. Hope is powerful. But it has its own place and time during emotional trauma and healing. In the heart of my trauma, it was nearly impossible to focus on the future.
It’s okay to be happy and hopeful around the person grieving, but let yourself exude it in your actions rather than your words. You don’t have to say anything about hope. When they’re ready, they’ll feel it from you, and then they’ll know you’re a safe harbor for them when they start exploring the new stage of healing.
Once they start talking about the future with hope, you can help it grow into something more stable by simply listening and encouraging them softly.
Going through the grieving process is hard, and so is watching someone you love go through it. From the other side of the experience, you want your loved one to heal and be alright again, but chances are your loved one is still processing and trying to heal.
Comments like these may be meant to shorten the grieving process, but they can actually add more time to it.
Ask them what they need from you. Ask them how you can help, and if they don’t give you an answer (it’s hard to do when in emotional distress), give suggestions on how you’d love to help.
It can be as simple as doing the dishes, dropping off a dinner, or even buying them some beautiful flowers. The most important thing is to remind them they’re loved, no matter what.
These questions can range from someone being curious to a simple, innocent getting-to-know-you question. No matter how innocent, they can hurt when in the middle of dealing with the emotional pain of losing a baby or not being able to get pregnant.
Sometimes they’re just conversation starters, and the other person doesn’t realize that they’re being hurtful and opening an emotional wound.
Instead of asking questions like this, allow the person in emotional pain to talk about it first. Let them guide the conversation. This will let you know what they want to talk about and what they’re comfortable discussing.
Look for cues in their body language and what they say. It’s okay to ask follow-up questions if they bring up the topic on their own. If they don’t want to talk about it anymore, it will most likely be clear in their body language. Or, they may tell you it’s a sensitive topic. Either way, respect their need for privacy during such a difficult time.For those of you going through the pain, remember that these comments aren’t meant to harm. They come from people who are concerned and who love you. If from strangers, they simply don’t understand the depth of your situation and your grief. Be patient and kind. It’s also perfectly acceptable to turn them into teaching moments. If you’re outside the experience and watching a loved one go through it, also employ patience and kindness. Be understanding. Be empathetic. Be aware. When it comes down to it, we can all do a little better and be a little kinder. It can make a world of difference to those who need it the most.
It takes a village!
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