Miscarriage is a terrible thing. It often leaves parents in a state of grief beyond what anyone might imagine. Unfortunately, miscarriage is also a relatively common occurrence, and as many as 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in a loss.

It’s highly likely that many of the women you know and love have experienced the loss of an unborn baby at some point in their lives. It also means you will likely be faced with the task of supporting one or more close friends or family members through a miscarriage in the future.

If you are currently in a situation in which you need to offer support to a couple who have just experienced a loss, you may have a hard time knowing what to say or do. This is completely normal, but you should not let this uncomfortable feeling keep you from offering your loved ones the support they need and deserve. Instead, try using the tips below.

Speak Thoughtfully

For many, finding the right words to say after learning someone they love is experiencing a miscarriage is quite difficult. Often, this leads them to become quiet or withdrawn. However, it can also lead to insensitive comments that are not well-thought-out. Because both of these responses can be incredibly hurtful to a grieving person, it is incredibly important that you take the time to offer a genuine and thoughtful response.

Thoughtful responses include simple condolences that offer the loved one a chance to talk about their feelings, such as, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Talking about your hopes for the new baby, referring to the little one by name, stating your emotions, and acknowledging the parent’s emotions can all be extremely helpful as well.

Responses you should avoid are cliche sayings such as, “It was God’s will”, “You can always have another”, and “You’re so lucky to have your older children.” You should also make an effort to focus on the feelings of the grieving parent rather than your own miscarriage experiences, should you have any.

Listen Well

One of the most important parts of the grieving process is venting emotions. Without someone who will listen, many parents who have experienced a loss tend to bottle up emotions, which is far from healthy. It is up to you, the support person, to offer a listening ear.

By simply sitting in silence and allowing the grieving parents to talk about what they are feeling, you can be incredibly helpful. You needn’t say much back. Simple condolences and reassurances are perfectly acceptable, and often even preferred.

Assure Her

Most mothers who experience miscarriage place blame on themselves. However, a miscarriage is rarely the fault of the mother, and such blame is an unnecessary burden. By assuring your friend that she did nothing wrong and gave her baby everything she could have, you can take some of that weight off her shoulders.

Additionally, you will want assure the grieving parents that their feelings of sadness are perfectly valid. Give them permission to cry and let them know you are there for them through this rough emotional time.

Lend a Hand

Grief can make daily tasks such as walking the dog and cooking dinner seem trivial and pointless. While you don’t want to take away your upset friend’s sense of purpose, it is important to offer a bit of help, especially during the first few weeks following the loss.

Don’t wait to be asked for help, and don’t make vague offers. Instead, offer to do very specific tasks or simply swing by with a pre-made dinner. Your loved ones will truly appreciate it.

Be Patient

The grieving process after a miscarriage is different for everyone. For some, it can take months to recover, and nobody ever truly forgets the pain of losing a child. Therefore, it is important that you are patient with your grieving loved ones. Allow them to heal in their own time and support them as much as necessary.

Rushing the process is a terrible idea and can lead to emotional issues later on down the line.

Simple Support Is Usually Best

Supporting a person through a miscarriage does not mean taking away the sadness and anger, nor does it mean cheering your loved one up. Offering support simply means lending a listening ear, a helping hand, and a shoulder to cry on.

In fact, going in with a plan to cheer up a grieving individual or trying to force them to put on a happy face is one of the worst things you can do. This method will likely leave your friend feeling as though you don’t care what they’re going through, and could even leave them feeling as though their feelings are wrong in some way.

By using the tips above and making a real effort to help your loved ones through this emotionally taxing time, you and your friend will likely find a closer bond and you can rest easy knowing you’ve made life easier for someone you love.