A psychologist and mother has launched a range of pregnancy loss empathy cards designed to provide those who just 'don't know what to say' with a way to show their love and support.
Jessica Zucker was 16 weeks pregnant when she experienced a miscarriage, at home by herself, and had to cut the umbillical cord before hemorrhaging and being taken to hospital.
She wrote an essay about the experience for the New York Times, encouraging other women who had been through the same thing to share their stories using the hashtag #IHadAMiscarriage.
'We shouldn't feel ashamed of our traumas, nor should we hide the consequent grief,' she wrote. 'It's not that I necessarily feel proud of having a miscarriage, but I do feel compelled to question why it seems as if we rarely talk about pregnancy loss, though the statistics are staggering.'
The NHS estimates that one in five, or around 20% of pregnancies will end in miscarriage, but Jessica is right in suggesting that both those who suffer miscarriages and the friends and family who try to help them through can struggle to find the right words to discuss the issue.
She is hoping that her new range of cards will change this.
The collection of 9 cards vary from emotional essay-style designs to words of fury to a simple but meaningful 'I am deeply sorry for your loss'. There is also a card for women who are pregnant again after experiencing loss previously.
15th October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, making the launch of the range especially significant around this time, but the cards will provide words of hope and comfort all year round.
'I hope these cards help normalize the grieving process, in a society that has few tools to manage the uncomfortability of talking about pregnancy loss,' Jessica explains.
In an interview with the Globe and Mail, she added: 'In our culture it’s really challenging to deal with out-of-order losses. When a grandparent dies we know what to do. There are rites and rituals that are a mainstay in our society: Send a card, send flowers, go to the funeral, bring food.'
'In a situation where a woman has a miscarriage, a later loss, a stillbirth or an infant loss, people are mortified and bewildered. We have a hard time sitting in uncomfortable spaces and as a result, people go quiet. Is it worse to stay quiet or say the wrong thing? Being quiet is worse, in a way. The person who says something that might sting is at least trying and they haven't disappeared altogether.'
And if you still have no idea what to say, or how to say it?
'"How are you feeling?"', Jessica suggests. 'That's kind of simple. I would have loved it if somebody had just asked me, "How do you feel?" Then the conversation can be authentic.'
For more information or support about any aspect of miscarriage, stillbirth or pregnancy loss, visit www.tommys.org