In 21st century America, it is easy to assume that every pregnancy results in a happy, healthy baby. Yet, as many as one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. The path through infant loss is complex; how can you support someone well? In the first of a two-part series, Rachel Pritz discusses miscarriage, stillbirth, and post-traumatic growth.
You can listen to the entirety of our conversation here. The Handle with Care podcast can also be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify.
Here are three action points that emerge from Rachel’s story
Don’t forget…and resist the urge to minimize the pain. Rachel said that one of the hardest things was the feeling that people had forgotten. Bring the topic up, bring the baby up in conversation. Earlier this year, I was meeting with an old friend for coffee. I hadn’t even taken a sip from my oat-milk chai tea latte when he said, “I just want you to know that I remember Mercy (my daughter that died) every year at this time.” His kind words were so meaningful. Be a person that remembers the loss of a child; it means so much to the parents.
Treat people as though they are going through the worst day of their lives. This has become a guiding principle for Rachel, it keeps her from honking her horn and helps as she cultivates empathy and it is probably a good nugget of wisdom for all of us.
Grief reduces people; Rachel felt like a different version of herself. In that season of acute loss, the witty, upbeat nurse who fired off zingers was gone. If you are going through the loss of a miscarriage, you might experience this sense of dislocation. If you are a support person, know that these changes can happen…and resist the urge to force someone to move too quickly through grief, to just snap back to being happy or normal. There is a wide range of what grief can look like. Instead, in Rachel’s words, seek to be a soft-landing place for those experiencing loss.
Here are a few other excerpts of insight from our conversation…
Sometimes, caring for someone means not talking about the loss of a child. I know, you might be thinking, isn’t that in contrast to what you (and Rachel) said above? Yes, grief can be messy like that…
6:45- Rachel Pritz
I wouldn't say that we really had a lot of discussions around it. I was much more private with with that experience. And just, in that time in my life, I was a much more private person. I didn't share a whole lot at work. I felt like, at that time, that work in life should you know maintain some certain boundaries and be separate. So did it.
- Liesel Mertes
Did it even feel in some ways like care to you to not have them press more deeply into that?
- Rachel Pritz
It did at that time in my life for sure. I mean, I felt like it was it was what I needed was to kind of not press and kind of move forward with with life.
You don’t have to know everything to say; just showing up is meaningful.
12:04- Rachel Pritz
So I had a lot of people back that came and visited. It's interesting, because I had three people at work that I was really close with my...Actually, before this all happened, I wouldn't say I was really close with, I was close to them but they were the three that kind of came out of the woodwork and came to my rescue and a lot of ways and just came and listened to me talk and they didn't know what to say they didn't have that experience so they didn't really truly understand but they just listened and that was huge. And to this day they're still people that I'm very close to.
It can be helpful to have a point person that lets others at work know about the miscarriage
15:02- Rachel Pritz
Yes. So I actually had a really a friend that had gone through miscarriages so had some experience there and so she called me and asked if it would be okay for her to make sure that everybody knew, including her anesthesiology group, because we were all pretty close with them and sometimes people come and go and health care you know we work for a few days and they were off for weeks and we don't catch up on what's been happening. And so she made sure that everybody knew what had happened. She asked my permission and I said yes I would love that. So everybody was aware. So I didn't have you know some of those comments or like, Oh did you have the baby? Like people would lose track of time, thinking I was full term and that's why I was off for that amount of time. And so that was really helpful. And I still think about her a lot. That was really, I really appreciated that she had the foresight to think of that because I wouldn't have known at the time to ask for that.
For more information on Rachel’s coaching business, visit rachelpritz.com