While I have never had some of the things said to me I get the impression it’s common practice when a miscarriage occurs. Not to say that things are said to be deliberately hurtful or without thinking. I generally like to believe people come from a good place and it’s mainly just from misunderstanding or supportive intentions not being delivered in the best way. I also wondered what would happen if we applied the same way of thinking to other kinds of grief and loss.
WHAT NOT TO SAY TO SOMEONE WHO HAS JUST HAD A MISCARRIAGE
1. You can try again.
Imagine someone has just lost their wife or husband, would you say “it’s okay, you’ll find another one”? Awkward much? Well, same thing kinda’ applies here.
A comment like this simply brushes over the miscarriage by implying another baby can replace the one that has been lost. It’s pretty flippant to say the least.
2. You’re young, you have plenty of time.
If you were at a funeral for a grandparent would you say something like “It’s okay Grandma, you’re only seventy and still have heaps of time”? Didn’t think so.
Like number one, again, don’t diminish the loss that someone is going through now by trying to give hope about their future. I’d say 99.9% of people are well aware of their age so such reminders are, to be blunt, stupid. In short, they’re probably not even mentally or physically ready to try again. You may not even know their personal situation and how long it took them to conceive. It’s not really about time, it’s about the loss of their baby.
3. Look at the child/ren you do have.
Erm, okay. I’m looking and wouldn’t you know, I’ve magically forgotten about why I’m upset.
It’s okay to separate the situations and seek joy from one child while expressing grief for another. Yes there may be an existing child who is happy and healthy but don’t forget that this baby also shared an equal part in the parents heart.
4. If it’s meant to be it will be.
Hmmmm. I’m probably guilty of saying something like this, or it’s close friend “everything happens for a reason”, more to myself than anyone else. I’ve always stood by my opinion that the latter comment has been comforting to me but after last year all I’ve been doing is searching for a reason. Although I keep asking why, there are never any answers. The phrase “everything happens for a reason” has turned on me. It’s made me doubt myself, question if I’m being punished and quite frankly, tipped me over the edge on occasion. Everything does not happen for a reason. Sometimes there is no logic, no answer and no rationale.
I would also stay well clear of “what’s meant to be, will be/it was for the best/it’s natures way”. In my mind these could be pretty attacking statements to say to a vulnerable person. They could also just add another layer to grief. It can sound disrespectful and could even be taken as a big “get over it” smack to the face.
5. (In early miscarriage) At least it wasn’t a proper baby yet/you weren’t far along.
Regardless of your beliefs surrounding embryos and the argument of what actually constitutes a baby; usually, when a woman sees that positive line on the pregnancy test she is already imagining her baby in her arms. Never take that away from her based on medical jargon or your personal opinion.
I’ve felt as attached to each of my pregnancies as any mother could argue. The length of time I’ve had with each baby has not even been a factor. Whether the mother was in her first or last trimester, loss is loss and there are not varying levels of severity for such sad circumstances.
If words truly escape you no one would ever blame you for it. Don’t tell yourself that it’s rude to pry or that you might say the wrong thing. If you’re really stumped then just say that “you’re sorry” and let the person know that they’ve been in your thoughts.
I remember with my second miscarriage, my BFF (who was just a close co-worker at the time) simply appeared at my office door, said she was sorry to have heard about what had happened and asked me if she could give me a hug. It had to have been one of the sweetest gestures I received at the time. I felt truly comforted that I didn’t have to talk about it but that someone cared enough to acknowledge why I hadn’t been at work.
The most powerful thing you can do for someone is to be comfortable enough to sit with them in their grief. Even if you do not know what to say, admitting and voicing that you have no words is a genuine and supportive gesture. Simply acknowledging the loss, not sweeping around the subject and being open for talks when the time is right can be fundamental to that persons ability to cope throughout the grieving process.