Do you have a friend who is coping with a miscarriage?
1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Some women experience many miscarriages. Some women will experience a miscarriage after they have experienced a healthy pregnancy. All are experiences that we could face at any time. Yet we are not comfortable discussing miscarriage in public. Knowing what NOT to say to someone who is coping with miscarriage is as important as knowing what to say. Here are 7 sentences I believe you should NEVER say to someone who has suffered a miscarriage.
“At least you know can get pregnant”.
Ah, this is a common one. When someone has lost a baby in pregnancy, this phrase does not provide comfort. Knowing you can get pregnant is no comfort. What if every pregnancy is going to result in a loss?
“There must have been something wrong with it, so it's the best thing.”
What are you a medical expert now? Can you tell me what was wrong with it? And don't assume the parent wouldn't want a child with potential developmental challenges. They would have still loved it – it was still their baby. Come on, think about it. It’s inappropriate to use that with another death and this is the same situation. Their baby was perfect and that is how they choose to remember it.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
This is not helpful. What was the reason?? That is the question that someone who is coping with a miscarriage is asking themselves over and over. Was it something I did? Was it something I didn’t do? What was the reason for it? They don’t need someone else to tell them that somewhere there is a reason it happened.
“At least it happened early on in the pregnancy”
Does it matter how late or early you miscarried? Not to the parents of that baby it doesn't. All their hopes and dreams shattered. No matter how many weeks they had been pregnant, to them it was still their baby. They have imagined what that baby would look like. Perhaps they have already started thinking of a name. Their grief is as strong at the beginning, middle or end of the pregnancy. They are grieving.
“You'll forget about it over time.”
No, no, no !!! And why should they forget? It's a life. You wouldn't say to someone who has lost a parent for example - oh you will forget about them over time?!?! Perhaps over time the pain will reduce when you think of it, but they will never forget. Losing a baby is a very difficult experience and the grief can be overwhelming. Don’t put a time limit on when they should feel better.
“You’ll be pregnant again in no time”
Will I? Do you know how long it took me to get pregnant with this baby? Perhaps it took a year, perhaps longer. Perhaps there IS a reason I lost the baby and I will struggle to conceive again. Perhaps this was my miracle baby? Don’t assume you know that because she was pregnant once, it would be that easy to do it all again.
“Well, you've got your other child/children.”
This is not helpful either. It insinuates that being a parent already should be 'enough'. That she should sweep the pain under the carpet – it’s not as valid. When the truth is, they’re not the only ones coping with a miscarriage. If other family members knew, they will feel the loss too. Children have lost a sibling. Grandparents have lost another grandchild.
If someone close to you has had a miscarriage, you don't have to come up with a reason why they should feel better. A hug and "I'm sorry for your loss" go a long way.
Don’t forget about the partner either. They are experiencing the same emotions and those words will also not help him. They have lost a baby too. Sometimes the partner is forgotten about. They are just as much in need of a hug and a listening ear as the woman experiencing it. They are still coping with a miscarriage, so don’t think they are any less sensitive to the loss.
Don’t assume how anyone is feeling. Just listen and be a friend and that’s what they need the most.
If you’re struggling to cope with a miscarriage, we offer a range of support options, from retreats to counselling. Contact us for more information about our services.