A common suffering that afflicts women in their childbearing years is the loss of a baby in the womb. Shocking statistical realities are not needed in order to witness the incredible rate of women who go through miscarriages all around us. This is especially true in the church where children are treasured and pregnancies abound! Chances are, if you are in your 20′s and 30′s and regularly fellowship with other young married couples, you have been witness to the sorrows a woman faces when her pregnancy is abruptly ended and the dream of a future bundle of joy is stripped from her–that is, if you haven’t experienced this tragedy yourself.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to minister to a sister-in-Christ who is going through a trial you have never experienced. Often the fear of saying the wrong thing or hurting her feelings with a thoughtless action can keep you from reaching out to her when she needs it the most. As the body of Christ, however, it is our responsibility to take up one another’s burdens and to diligently seek to encourage those around us who are suffering. We love the members of the church because we love our Savior and in him we are all united. The pain our sisters are feeling is our own pain, and we must seek to come alongside them even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Because this is such a common occurrence, and because it can sometimes be a delicate issue (one that is rarely discussed openly with others), I would like to share some practical ways you can serve a woman who miscarries. You may assume that you are not intimate enough with a person to enter into her suffering, or you may not feel qualified to speak life-giving truth into her heart during such a difficult time, but let me assure you, no matter how well you know a person or how uncomfortable you are ministering to a suffering woman, there is something you can do to practically love her. Every single little act of kindness and compassion shown by the body of Christ to a woman who miscarries is an evidence of the Father’s love to her. You can be an evidence of God’s love for her. Wouldn’t you like to do that? Here are some practical ways you can:
1. Pray for her
Everyone can do this, but unfortunately it is often not something that many people actually do. When you find out a woman has miscarried, you can be sure there is one thing she needs above all else–to know the peace of God. She needs to feel the presence of the Lord surrounding her, to know that he is in control, and to know that he has not forgotten her. These are practical things you can pray for.
Even if the she never knows that you have prayed, you can be sure that your prayers will accomplish much. What better way could you serve a person than by begging the Father of all Comfort to be with her in her time of need?
Remember her throughout your day, praying for her continually, knowing that every minute of her day is a new opportunity for the Lord’s grace to be poured into her life. Consider fasting for her and devoting the time it would take you to eat a meal to petitioning the Father on her behalf.
2. Communicate your thoughts and prayers to her
The knowledge that the body is lifting you up to the Father is in itself an incredible blessing. Sometimes, in our deepest sorrows we can find it hard to pray and difficult to know what to pray for. Knowing that others are bringing your needs before the Father and praying for your spiritual health is a tremendous comfort. Here are some practical ways you can do this:
- Call. She may not pick up, but you can leave a message expressing the prayers you have said for her.
- Text. As you pray for her, send a simple text expressing what you have prayed for. On the day that I was induced to deliver my 17 week little girl, one of my dearest friends sent me a text every hour expressing how exactly she was asking the Lord to bless me. I cannot tell you how encouraging it was to know that someone hadn’t only prayed for me, but she was continuing to pray for me throughout the day. Also, knowing what she was praying was a comfort and encouragement to my soul.
- Send a card. There is something very special about receiving physical mail–even in today’s social media driven world. Fill a blank card with your prayers for her and send it as soon as you can. Let her know specifically what you are asking the Father on her behalf. Take this a step further and send her a new prayer in the mail every day for a month. How wonderful to know that there is someone who loves you enough to pray every day and send a note of encouragement!
3. Acknowledge her loss
One of the most difficult aspects of miscarrying is the feeling of isolation. This particular loss is one that many people will never know about. It is not something you can see or something that others have experienced with you. Usually the loss is limited to her immediate family. Nonetheless, her child has died and so has a dream that took root at the first signs of a positive pregnancy test. Don’t think that this pain can be swept under the rug for your sister-in-Christ. She needs to know that others understand how deeply she is grieving. Ways to acknowledge her loss would be similar to that of any other who has lost a loved one:
- Send flowers. In such a dark time, the gift of flowers can brighten her day. Knowing that someone cared enough to send them and that someone desires to bless her through them is a wonderful encouragement.
- Send a note of sympathy.
- Give her a book or music that will encourage her through this difficult time. Books to consider are Nancy Guthrie’s “Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow” and Elisabeth Elliot’s “A Path Through Suffering.”
4. Serve Her Family
- Bring meals and snacks. Nobody wants to cook when they have experienced a loss or are going through physical pain. Providing dinners, groceries, and restaurant gift cards can be a practical way to serve her.
- Watch her children. If she already has kids, offer to come over and play with them, take them to the park, have them spend the night with you, or take them to a movie. Providing childcare can be a helpful way to let her grieve without little eyes watching, but can also be a necessity when surgeries, hospital stays, or doctor’s appointments are on the agenda.
- Offer to clean her house. This is a very practical way to serve your sister-in-Christ. She may be hesitant to accept your offer, but stress to her how much you want to serve her during this time.
- Give monetarily. Many times a miscarriage can mean unexpected medical expenses. If you are able, giving a monetary gift to a family going through such a trial is a wonderful way to bless them and ease some of the stress they are feeling.
5. Enter into her suffering
As I mentioned earlier, feelings of isolation are a huge struggle for the woman going through a miscarriage. Friends who are willing to come alongside her during this time and grieve with her are truly gifts from the Lord. Here are some ways that you can grieve with her:
- Visit with her and listen. Just listen. Ask her how she is doing and allow her to lead the conversation. Try to understand the feelings she is experiencing and empathize with her sorrow. Sometimes we feel that we must have the right thing to say, but really the best thing to do is simply be there and be and let her know how much you love her. Allow her to talk about what she is going through, both emotionally and physically. Hold her hand, give her hugs, and let her cry in front of you.
- Pray with her. Once you have an understanding of what her physical and spiritual needs are, pray these specific needs to your Father in her presence. Let her know that you will continue to lift her up as the days go on.
- Share scripture with her. The Psalms are particularly poignant during times of sorrow and will be easy to relate to her circumstances without sounding pithy. Let her know that you will be praying through these scriptures for her.
- Share how the Lord has been faithful to you during times of trial and grief. If you have been in a similar situation and have experienced tremendous sorrow, share your experience (not as a way to minimize her suffering or to one up her), but as a way to express how the Lord has been faithful to bring you through and what you have learned about the Lord during those difficult times.
- Offer to help her do something to remember her baby by. Perhaps you can help her plant a tree or a garden or perhaps you can help her frame a sonogram picture.
6. Don’t forget about her
Life moves on after your friend miscarries and it can be easy to forget that she is still struggling through intense emotions (especially if she has no other children or continues to have difficulty conceiving). Here are some simple things you can do to make sure that she knows you have not forgotten her:
- Continue to ask her how she is doing. Make sure she knows that you really want to know.
- Remember dates. Jot down in your agenda the day that she miscarried and/or her baby’s due date. When those dates roll around, send a card or flowers to remind her that you know she is grieving and that she is in your prayers.
- Remember that she is a mother. Even if she still is without children, remember that she too has experienced the joy of being a mom and has also experienced the sorrow of losing a child that she was never able to hold. Be careful how you speak around her, knowing that she desperately wishes she could be a mother to her lost child, but has been denied that opportunity.
- Remember her on Mother’s Day. This is a practical application of the last suggestion.
It is my hope that this simple list of ideas will not only help you to better minister to sisters who go through a miscarriage, but that it would benefit the many women who experience such devastating trials. May they feel the love of the Father through us as we seek to encourage and strengthen them in times of sorrow.
If you have miscarried, is there anything you would add to this list? Have you been served in a practical or creative way that you would like to share? Please leave a comment below!