**trigger warning** This post relates to miscarriage and pregnancy loss.
I‘ve suffered 3 miscarriages. I use the term “suffer” instead of ”experienced, went through or had” because from my point of view, there is
no other way to describe the loss of your child. It was true suffering to have the life I was carrying within me cease to exist.
There were so many family members and friends who served as such wonderful sources of comfort in the aftermath of my losses. Their kindness and compassion is something I will always cherish.
Then there were others whose words were quite literally the opposite. Instead of being kind and comforting-they were better left unspoken and some even downright cruel. I understand many people can be uncomfortable with the concept of grief and loss-not knowing what to say or do.
I‘d like to share 5 things not to say to someone who has experienced a miscarriage (these were all said to me) and two simple, meaningful things to say instead.
What NOT to say
“What did you do?”
Yes, this was actually said to me. I think I was so dumbfounded at the time I don‘t even remember how I reacted. I may have responded with something along the lines of “Nothing. You can’t just cause a miscarriage.” Then the person tried to explain that they thought you could cause a miscarriage by walking too much or lifting something that was too heavy. WHAT?! No. Just no. Neither of those things are true as my doctor assured me as well as countless medical articles that debunk miscarriage myths. My advice is to NEVER, EVER make someone feel as though they are to blame for having a miscarriage. It’s a truly horrible thing to imply and a statement like this should never leave your lips.
”Get over it.”
This is probably just as bad as implying that a woman caused her own miscarriage. Telling someone to just “get over” the loss of their child shows a complete lack of compassion and decency. I think those who feel the need to say this should do everyone a favor and follow that age-old rule of, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.
”You can always try again.” I can see how someone who says this is trying to be positive and encouraging, but honestly, unless the person who has had the miscarriage says this themselves-just don‘t mention it. Because you don’t know if they ”can always try again”. You don’t know if this was their 3rd round of IVF, what other medical conditions they have, or a countless number of other factors that don’t make it so easy to ”just try again”.
Plus, at least for me, I looked at it this way-The baby I lost was MY baby and I wanted THAT baby. It wasn‘t so easy to move on from the idea of my baby and all of the love, hopes, and dreams I had.
“It was probably meant to be.”
Again, not helpful or comforting to me. It was meant to be for me to lose my child? I wondered if they would say this to a parent who lost their child in another manner? Hopefully not. Trust me-just don’t go there.
“A lot of women have miscarriages.” Yes, this is a true statement. Sadly, as many as 1 in 4 women have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. Although someone may say this with the intention of trying to help another feel less isolated, it may inadvertently send the message that their loss doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Pregnancy loss is very personal, raw, and specific to the woman who has experienced it. Everyone’s experience is different and how they process their loss can greatly vary.
Sadly, I know others have had to endure such comments after a miscarriage and I think that’s why being open about it (for those who choose to be), can be a powerful tool to bring awareness as well as destigmatize pregnancy loss.
What to say instead
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
Succint, impactful and sympathetic. This may be the simplest and kindest thing you can say.
“I’m here for you.”
Along with expressing your sympathy for that person’s loss, this is another impactful statement to make. Unlike sharing that many women experience pregnancy loss with the hope they understand they’re not alone, this actually conveys that message without adding in any other unnecessary information or “just so you know” type statements.