Having children is one of the most joyous experiences a family can have, but sadly not every pregnancy will bring a baby into the world. The American Pregnancy Association estimates that between 10-25% of pregnancies will end in miscarriage. A woman who experiences this feels a tremendous amount of pain; she is devastated by the loss of her child and may also fear the possibility of infertility. In this difficult situation, a woman is in great need of a friend to comfort her, but it’s not always easy to know what to do or say to help. Here are 5 ways to support someone who has had a miscarriage:

Acknowledge the Loss

After a miscarriage, some may stay silent because they are afraid things will be uncomfortable if they mention what happened. But a woman who has miscarried needs acknowledgment of the loss of her child. If you can’t find the right words or aren’t sure your friend wants to talk about it, say something simple like “I’m not sure what to say, but I love you,” or “I’m here if you need to talk.” Beyond words, treat the situation as you would the death of any other family member. Consider sending flowers or a card to let your friend know you’re thinking of her. Acknowledging the miscarriage will help her know she is validated and loved.

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Listen

What a woman who’s suffered a miscarriage often needs more than anything is for a compassionate friend to truly listen to her. Hear her out as she tries to make sense of her grief. Being a good friend means offering her a shoulder to cry on (often quite literally, in this case), and allowing her to talk about what happened. Remember that she is experiencing many different painful emotions, and you can provide a great deal of support by simply listening to her.

Resist Giving Feedback

We often try to empathize with someone by relating our own life experiences. While this can sometimes be a useful strategy, it isn’t a good idea to use in this case. Even if you yourself have had a miscarriage, don’t bring it up unless you’re specifically asked. Also, avoid saying things to your friend like, “you can always try again,” or “Good thing you already have children.” Your role in this case is not to be a problem-solver or help her decide her next step. It is instead to love and support your friend through her grieving process.

Offer to Help

While it’s best to avoid giving advice, absolutely offer your time to help your friend. Saying things like “how can I help you?” is probably too general; instead, make specific suggestions, such as, “I’d love to watch your children for an afternoon.” There are so many things you can do for your friend at this time: bring her family a meal, help her with cleaning and chores, take her out for lunch. Be perceptive and sensitive to what would most benefit her, and generously serve her.

Follow Up

We often give support in the immediate wake of a friend’s personal tragedy, but the pain of a miscarriage will not go away quickly. Continue to provide support, comfort, and love in the months following the miscarriage. Be sensitive to her and her family’s needs and privacy, but remember that the healing process takes time, and that your friend may need your help not just today, but also down the road.

A miscarriage is one of the most traumatic and painful experiences a woman can ever have. By following these steps, you can provide her with the love and support she needs.