(Spoiler alert: this article includes details of season 2 of Sweet Magnolias.)
If you haven’t seen it, now is your chance to watch the charming and perfectly cheesy new drama, “Sweet Magnolias” on Netflix. The show focuses on three women living in a small southern town, and how they support each other through everything—including miscarriage.
Netflix just released season 2 of Sweet Magnolias and one of the leading women, Helen, (played by Heather Headley) finds herself unexpectedly pregnant right after ending a relationship. While the timing seems bad, she is thrilled. Her best friends Dana Sue (Brooke Elliot) and Maddie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) celebrate with her and even give her a little onesie.
But then she miscarries and it’s awful.
We see Helen come out of a bathroom in crippling pain and ask a friend, “take me to the hospital.” The next scene with Helen shows her coming home wincing and sad and shell-shocked. Her two very best friends, Maddie and Dana Sue are waiting for her in her living room with hot tea, a comfy blanket, and the biggest hugs. Helen cries while saying “I lost my baby.”
Helen represents the 10-15% of women whose pregnancies end in miscarriage. According to the March of Dimes, it can take a few weeks or months to recover physically from a miscarriage, but it may take longer to recover emotionally.
Throughout the Sweet Magnolia’s episode, we see Helen’s friends hugging her, crying with her and checking in on her. They bring food, take work off her plate, and show up again and again to care for their friend.
Here are four things Sweet Magnolias teaches us to do for friends who experience a miscarriage:
1. Check in
Ask her how she’s doing doing, if she wants to talk about it, or what she needs. If she doesn’t reply, that’s okay. Check in later. Listen to whatever she wants to talk about; whether it’s the miscarriage or something unrelated. By intentionally reaching out and checking in, you show that you care.
2. Bring food, tea, or something
We don’t always know what we need and when we’re in crisis and in shock, articulating our needs is that much harder. Send her a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant, or make her favorite meal or dessert and leave it on her doorstep. If you don’t know what to make, send a DoorDash gift card or a Starbucks card or flowers.
3. Never judge or demand details
Loss is immensely personal. Don’t ask for details about her miscarriage unless she offers. She may never share the details or she may want to process it with you–both are okay. Also, never judge her for how she is feeling about her miscarriage. We all handle it in our own unique way. Some of us are sad and torn up for weeks or months. Others keep it to themselves. Don’t judge how she processes the pain.
4. Just be there
It won’t be perfect. You probably don’t know what to say and you might be afraid you’ll say the wrong thing–that’s okay. Just be there for her. Those of us who’ve experienced a miscarriage know how sad, isolating and empty we can feel. No one can say anything to make it better, but they can be with us during the pain and the healing.
I know it can feel nerve-wracking not knowing exactly what to do or say to help your friend. But if it feels awkward or uncomfortable for you, imagine how much more awkward, uncomfortable and even painful it is for her. The bottom line is we should show up and care for our people.
As Helen says on the show, “My mama used to tell me: If we all worry about the people we love, then we’ll always have people worrying about us, and then we don’t have to worry about ourselves.”
While I’d sub the word “care” for “worry,” this quote captures the sense of community and support we all need–especially when we’re experiencing a loss like miscarriage.