Miscarriage is not an easy topic. In the weeks that followed the loss of our first baby, I found that my miscarriage was either ignored or in an attempt to say something — anything — people said the wrong thing. Though I never doubted their good intentions, there were certain comments I heard over and over that offered more hurt than comfort. I am sharing in an effort to better equip friends and family of someone suffering through a similar loss. Here are five things not to say to someone who’s just had a miscarriage.
“This is actually really common and happens to a lot of people.”
Yes, this is true. 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. However, at that moment it may just feel like you’re trying to downplay their loss. Despite statistics, losing your baby doesn’t feel common or like an everyday occurrence.
“At least it happened now and not later.”
I have since carried and given birth to two babies and can only imagine the further you are along in your pregnancy the harder it has to be to lose your little one. However, when you really want to have a baby, losing that little life even just a couple days or weeks after finding out you are pregnant is extremely painful. Similar to the comment above, it may feel like you are downplaying their loss or as if they are not entitled to feel as sad as they do.
“I know someone who had four miscarriages before having her baby.”
Yikes. I see where these words may be trying to offer the hope of having a baby after a miscarriage, but reminding a woman that this could happen again and again after having just been through it is probably not the best idea.
“Well, at least you know you can get pregnant.”
But it doesn’t do me any good if I can’t stay pregnant. That’s how I always responded in my head as I smiled and nodded.
“This was your body’s way of getting rid of a baby with problems.”
This was probably the most hurtful. It pained me to hear someone talk about my baby as if I was better off without them. I loved and wanted my baby — unconditionally.
Rather than fumbling for the “right” words (and no one can blame you, it’s always difficult to talk about such emotionally-charged, painful topics) here are some things you can do to help a friend or family member who’s just had a miscarriage:
- Call or visit. Not only did our parents come over the day we found out about my miscarriage, but my friend and her family came over with ice cream sundaes. The ice cream didn’t change the situation or erase the pain. Yet their presence and the sentiment behind it meant everything to me.
- If you don’t know what to say, say just that. It’s okay to not have the perfect words. Just letting them know how sorry you are over what they’ve lost is meaningful.
- Listen. Gauge their comfort level in talking about it, and if it seems like they want to share — listen. Following my miscarriage, I had a friend who asked me about it every time she saw me. Few other people entered that conversation with me, so it was extremely healing for me to be able to talk about it often with her.
- Take them dinner after their D & C. It’s not so much about the food as it is about the act of making them feel cared for.
- Send a hand-written card or flowers. A friend sent me flowers after I lost my baby, and I still have the note that came with them. She was not only thinking of me but also acknowledging my loss, and it meant the world to me.
- Check in over time. A miscarriage isn’t something you get over in a day. Even if it’s been weeks or months, check-in and see how they’re doing.
If you have any do’s or don’ts on how to comfort someone dealing with a miscarriage, be sure to share in the comments below. The more we discuss it, the better equipped we will all be to help a loved one going through it.
Although Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month is drawing to a close, women and families go through this year-round. If you’ve lost a little one and would like to pay tribute to them on our Forever Loved Wall, please e-mail [email protected] and we’d be honored to add their name.