If you’re reading this post, I’m guessing that you or someone you know has experienced a miscarriage. Even though this devastating loss is being talked about more openly than it once was, most people have no idea how to support grieving parents. I’ve been there, and I know firsthand the grief of losing a baby. In this post, I’ll share my experience with miscarriage, and at the end I’ve included ideas for a miscarriage gift box or care package.
Note: if you only need miscarriage gift ideas, feel free to skip past my story to the list at the end.
My Miscarriage Story
*Trigger Warning: pregnancy loss and miscarriage*
Cramping and bleeding are a normal part of life for most women- except when you’re pregnant. At the intersection of normal and terrifying there exists this grief called a miscarriage.
Even the names given to this grief are loaded with stigma and shame. Miscarriage– as though the mother or her body are at fault. Spontaneous abortion – as though the unexpected and unintended loss of a baby is in the same field as terminating a pregnancy.
A miscarriage is devastating, particularly for a mother who wants every baby she conceives. A swirling mix of emotions and feelings are accompanied by the confusion that’s already taking place in her body: Am I pregnant? Is this a normal period? Wait, what?
A Year of Difficulty
After the birth of our first son, we went through an incredibly difficult time:
- our house was burgled. All of our important documents, my heirloom jewelry from my great-grandma, and my DSLR camera were stolen from us;
- I struggled through postpartum depression;
- our infant had eczema so bad that his skin was raw nearly everywhere. He only slept about an hour at a time well into his 7th month;
- we “celebrated” Easter with the stomach flu;
- we faced a potentially life-threatening illness whose major symptom was bloody stool;
- a dear friend’s husband committed suicide;
- my Grandpa was diagnosed with cancer;
- my brother and his wife moved away;
- our beloved cat was killed.
I realize that some of those losses and hard things are in no way on par with the others. The fact that they all came in such a short time close together intensified them and brought us to a point of barely holding on to hope.
My husband and I both were struggling with depression. On top of all that, we still had four young children to care for, and all of the work involved in our service as ministers.
In the middle of this very trying time, we conceived a baby. And then, at 8 weeks, we suffered a miscarriage.
We were ministering at a family camp when we lost our baby. My husband was teaching, my two oldest children were enjoying the activities and classes, and much of my extended family was present and volunteering as well. I was surrounded by people who loved me and cared about my family.
Yet in the dark hours of the night when I woke up cramping and bleeding, I was utterly alone. My husband and 4 children were all sleeping in a large single room cabin, and I did not want to wake them. Sleep was scarce enough for all of us, and I knew that my husband’s teaching the next day would suffer if he had not slept well.
So for the first few hours, I wept and prayed and suffered alone.
As the camp started to stir, I woke my husband and told him what had been going on. He was immediately prepared to do whatever was needed. We called my mom over to watch the children while I went to the camp nurse. He advised me that there was nothing to be done to prevent it so early in the pregnancy, and only by remaining on bed rest could I increase the chances that the bleeding would stop.
In my heart, I already knew that this pregnancy was over. It had felt different than my other pregnancies, but I had chalked it up to normal variation. Now I knew.
We had only told a few people that we were expecting. It was early in the pregnancy, so we had not yet made a public announcement. Ironically this made it even harder to tell people about the miscarriage.
“Wait, you were pregnant, but now you’re not?”
People just did not know what to do with that information. We had not seen my husband’s family since finding out we were pregnant. When they found out that we had lost the baby, their primary response was hurt feelings that this was how they found out we were expecting.
Meanwhile, I did not know what to do about the fact that we were at camp volunteering when this happened. I wanted to go home and grieve with only my husband and children around.
But that would mean finding a replacement for my husband to teach his class. Everyone would have to know and hear about it at camp. It would mean that my kids would have to leave the fun and come home with hard, sad news instead.
I swallowed my grief, put on my best suck-it-up face, and rode out the last two days of camp.
In hindsight, I recognize that it was the shock that carried us through those days. Shock is the first response of grief, and while it doesn’t usually last long, it serves a purpose in helping one continue with life temporarily.
Brian managed to finish teaching his classes. I did not know anyone at camp who had experienced a miscarriage, so I only told my parents and a few others. The rest of that week is completely blanked out in my mind.
Responses from others
When people started to find out, we had a spectrum of responses. Some shared (by way of a sympathy card) their own experience with miscarriage, and extended the offer to listen if I needed to grieve. Others showed up with meals. These are the people I now remember from that dark time, who knew how to comfort with their presence.
Others said all the pat spiritual answers:
“The Lord knows what’s best.”
“At least you have your other children.”
“It probably wasn’t a healthy baby.”
Useless statements that I knew were simply people’s best attempt to find the “right words” at a time when companionable silence would have been more welcome.
I did not feel free to express my deep sorrow with most people.
My children wept when we told them. Even at seven, five, and three years old, our girls knew that this was a great grief and a moment to weep. We had many discussions later about the details and answered a lot of questions. But in that moment, crying was an appropriate, healthy, and valuable response.
Few people have spoken to me about the miscarriage since the initial days. Even most of my extended family (it seems) has forgotten it occurred.
We commemorated our baby with a small garden stone, a little tabletop fountain, and an ornament on our Christmas tree. It was important to us, and to our children, to not forget our little one who we never got to meet.
No funeral or burial
This is one of the hard things about a miscarriage- it tends to be a hidden grief. There may not be any burial, or any funeral. Some people may not even know it has occurred.
Statistically, anywhere from one out of eight to one out of three pregnancies end in miscarriage. So miscarriage is by no means uncommon. Yet before we experienced it, we had only heard of two other people that had suffered a miscarriage, and it was secondhand information.
It’s tempting to say that things are all better now; that having two more babies after the miscarriage made it all fade away. That’s the kind of happy ending most of us wish for, and the sort of resolution that most people want to hear.
However, the truth is that I still feel angry that I did not feel free to stop and grieve when it happened. I felt pressured to push through and pretend nothing was wrong, and that makes me angry now.
I still feel sad that most people will look at our six beautiful children and never know that our family actually has seven children; and explaining that is more than most people are interested in hearing.
Comfort and Hope
Truthfully, I can say that God has comforted us, and allowed us to share this comfort with others. There have been times where someone I know has gone through a miscarriage, and because I have personally experienced it, I have some comfort that I’m able to offer them (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). It is a beautiful thing to see God transmute our pain into something that can bless others.
Miscarriage Care Package Ideas
In the last few years, I’ve known several friends and more than one extended family member who experienced pregnancy loss. Every miscarriage or infant loss is different, so a miscarriage gift box can be a great way to create a unique, thoughtful gift.
Ideas to Include in a Miscarriage Gift Box
Note: if your bereaved friend has been through a physically traumatic miscarriage, such as an ectopic pregnancy, baths may be out of the question for a time. The other gift ideas may be more appropriate.
- Soy candle or incense
- Bath bombs or bath salts (scented epsom salt or Dead Sea salts)
- Lavender eye pillow / lavender essential oil / lavender sachet to promote relaxation and rest
- Comforting items such as fuzzy socks or a soft blanket
- A Spa gift set or gift basket (vitamin E or shea butter lotions work well for most people’s skin)
- Herbal tea / coffee/ favorite drink
- Gift cards for self-care activities, e.g. massage, manicure, pedicure, etc.
For many bereaved parents, it’s important to find a tangible gift or reminder of the baby they have lost. A commemorative item, such as a memorial stone or artwork can be a great gift idea. We found several artists on Etsy who will create a personalized pregnancy loss gift with specific dates, names, or a special note.
Miscarriage gifts (to commemorate baby loss)
- Garden stone
- Tabletop fountain
- Christmas ornament
- Jesus with infant in arms painting/ print
- Gift boxes to hold special items (hospital bands, ultrasound photo, baby shoes, etc.)
- Stuffed animal / blanket – this can be a great help to siblings, too.
- Picture frame for ultrasound
Other Ways to Help and Show Support
- Personalized note/ greeting card/ sympathy card
- Meal delivery service
- Books to help with the healing process
- Cleaning service
- Finding a support group for loss mamas
It’s easy to underestimate the comfort of a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. But presence is often the best way to support a friend or loved one who is grieving.
If you are supporting a friend or family member through baby loss, we hope these miscarriage gift box ideas will help you find the perfect way to bless them.
I shared my story in the hope that someone who feels alone in their grief will know that they are not alone. Please feel free to contact me if you need someone to talk to about miscarriage.
© Copyright 2021 Jennifer D. Warren. UPDATED: September 5, 2022.