How to Support Your Nanny Family Through A Miscarriage
Dealing with loss is something that we all experience at some point in life. Death is an inevitable, (though somewhat taboo + secretive), aspect of life. We spend most of our time focusing on living better, experiencing more, acquiring more, so the idea/reality of the definitive end of life is basically the last thing we want to casually discuss.
Losing anyone you love is incredibly startling. It shakes the very core of your sense-of-self, rattles your belief system, and turns any solid emotional ground into tumultuous quicksand. In some cases, the loss of a loved one is only slightly less shocking when the person is older, or suffering from a degenerative disease, but despite life expectancy, death silences even the biggest mouths.
Since we tend to shy away from openly discussing the realities of death and dying, when you’re the one experiencing the heartbreak, it can feel like you’re on an island of grief, with no one else in sight. People often don’t know how to act, what to say, so those people on the periphery of your social circle will go quiet for a time.
The loss of the newest, most innocent form of life, such as an embryo, fetus, preemie, or infant is unbelievably overwhelming, not only for the mother and your nanny family, but for close friends as well. It’s so difficult to know how to support a friend in the throes of such immense grief. It goes against everything we want to believe about death: that death is analogous to old-age, a life well-lived, a grey- haired, wise human, free from regret and full of beautiful memories.
As a nanny and as a friend, you can better support someone experiencing such grief by remembering your personal experiences with loss, how you felt, what you needed, and what you wished people would do/not do. Keep in mind that your perspective is still yours alone, and avoid making comparisons. Use your experiences as a guide to what she may be feeling, and what you could possibly do to help.
Losing a child is impossible to completely understand for those that haven’t been through it, but here are a few ways that you can show intuitive support + love for your nanny family should they be going through this inexplicable hardship.
- Avoid asking intrusive questions about the specifics, when she is ready to relive the horrors she’s just experienced, she’ll open up on her own, when she’s ready. Be prepared to listen, but never push for conversation about the medical details.
- Hiding from others and distancing emotionally and physically is normal when dealing with grief. Know that this has nothing to do with you, so limit your expectations and encourage your friend to invest in self-care.
- Provide tools for her self-care: bath soaps, special bath bombs, (avoid super intense scents, go for allergen-free products), a fluffy bathrobe, a large heating pad, tons of sparkling water, ready-to-eat snacks, hot tea, several bottles of good wine, a journal to write down her feelings, gift certificate for manicure/pedicure/massage, your Netflix login info, you get the idea.
- With each interaction with her, be aware of the time and energy you’re taking from her; quickly/secretly dropping off little gifts with a sweet note is often much more helpful than a 2-hour, forced conversation, especially when she desperately needs to lay down and heal her body and heart.
- Offer to help with her other kids, offer to run errands for her, get groceries for the family, make school lunches, do the laundry/dishes, etc. Be aware of boundaries, make sure that your presence is legitimately helping Mama heal, not making her feel displaced or uncomfortable in her own home.
- Every human being moves through grief differently, be attentive to the non-verbal cues from your friend, and adjust your behavior as needed to best support her individual needs.
- Avoid minimizing or qualifying the grief and loss that she is dealing with. For instance, eradicate useless platitudes from your conversation, ie.: “time heals everything”, “at least you were able to get pregnant”, “at least you have another beautiful child”, “it just wasn’t meant to be”, etc. These comments are easy go-to’s when you are uncomfortable in conversation with her. It’s really not your fault, death and grief are huge obstacles to discuss and be in the midst of, let alone understand. Still, avoid the urge to make it shinier or less scary. When you do those things, you minimize the experiences + feelings that your nanny family is dealing with. Nothing about miscarriage is fair, it’s not shiny or beautiful. When you’re in that dark tunnel of grief, it’s awful. It’s painful. It’s devastating. She needs to be given the space and time to feel + move through that. Showing her true empathy throughout the healing process, feeling it with her, will be such a support for her. To better understand empathy, we love this Brene Brown video.
- Be there for her as much as you are able to, both emotionally and physically. It may take time, but eventually she will reach out more, and your presence will be a huge gift. Expect late-night and early-morning texts, distracting and seemingly silly conversations, unexpected breakdowns, and an eventual ability to smile, even on the rough days.
Things will get better for her, but she will never be the same, and that is absolutely okay. Grief and loss imprint us in a way that dramatically changes our perspective. Despite the unbelievable amount of emotional work it takes to get through it, the other side of the grief-tunnel is SO bright. Life IS full of new hope and endless possibilities, but for now, your nanny family and friend just needs you to be intuitive, quiet, and present.
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