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Monday, March 7, 2016

6 Essential Ways to Support a Friend after a Pregnancy Loss

It's a privilege to repost this article, this time with Power of Moms at their request. Make no mistake, pregnancy loss and how it is handled is a social justice issue for moms. How many women stay silent for fear of further pain? If you know someone who needs this message, please share it. This knowledge was hard won for me, as I learned it talking with real women through real situations as a hospital chaplain. Through these six steps, we can strengthen female community through the care we show each other.

6 essential ways to support a friend after a pregnancy loss
When I worked as a hospital chaplain, I was called into a variety of rooms and circumstances. Some of the most heartbreaking were the phone calls that I received from the labor and delivery ward in the event of pregnancy loss. I saw the broken heart and dreams in the parent’s eyes. Sometimes I saw the baby lying motionless, and I wept tears I believe Jesus would weep in those bitter moments.
I still remember one afternoon when I got a call from the labor and delivery nursing staff. They requested a chaplain because a mother was clutching her stillborn child and refusing to let it go. It had been some time, and the staff was getting concerned. I walked into the room to find the mother nestling her child in a swaddling blanket. The father was bent over the bed.
As I approached the bed, the infant under the blanket came into view. It was neither fully grown nor fully formed. There were hollowed sockets where eyes should have been. While the child did not have skin or a defined skeleton, the mother clung to its weight. She pulsed with an unconditional, fierce, yet tender love for her child. It was a moment of insurmountable love and utter brokenness.
While God is a god of life and wholeness, our world knows death and brokenness too. We have a call as people of faith to come alongside those who are hurting, to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and to plant seeds of hope and light in the blackness of night. When the pain is all too real, there’s a salve that’s all too needed. Brokenness can be mended by intentional community, and a community done in Jesus’ name is that much stronger.
I rested my hand on the blanket and said a prayer for the child. I proclaimed God’s love for the child and listened to the parents share and weep. After a time, we performed a bedside liturgy in which the three of us prayed. Following the liturgy the parents did say goodbye, although I’m sure their child and their grief lives on in their hearts.
While the situation I encountered in the hospital was not typical, pregnancy loss is sadly not uncommon. While stillbirths occur about one in every 160 pregnancies in the United States, the rate of miscarriage is roughly one in every four known pregnancies. That means miscarriage will statistically touch our lives either personally or through someone we know.
Its prevalence demands that we know how to sensitively and effectively handle it. Yet what tends to happen is that it is not mentioned or addressed at all. People who are grieving are wary to share in their vulnerable state. Others are uncomfortable dealing with loss in general.
What’s needed are some simple guidelines for creating a safe place to share and usher in healing. For those of you who are looking to be that safe place, here are six ways that you can support a friend who is grieving pregnancy loss:
Please click here to continue reading and discover those six ways.

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