Miscarriage is a topic so many prefer to sweep under the rug and ignore. I get it — I do. It’s uncomfortable to talk about death, particularly that of a pregnancy/baby/child. There are others who feel that this is a ‘natural and common’ thing in life and we don’t need to always talk about it.
Problem with that is those who are grieving can be left feeling very unsupported and misunderstood. Friends who have not been through miscarriage will try to help but either don’t know what to say/do or find themselves fumbling through it or doing nothing at all.
Though saying something in place of nothing is important, there are some phrases that a survivor might find particularly hurtful. Generally, people do mean well and are not trying to hurt someone by saying these phrases — but most often they just don’t know it’s hurtful — and why.
Click through for my advice on what NOT to say to a miscarriage survivor:
I would like to preface this by saying — before you tell me that no one would ever say these to people — I have personally been on the receiving end of all 10 of these phrases.
1. “You can always try again.”: The end goal of pregnancy is not having two lines show up on the test — it’s a baby to grow their family. Many women will indeed go on to have another pregnancy, but they will always grieve the one the never got to know.
2. “Be grateful for the children you have!”: Grieving the loss of a baby has no effect on how they feel about their living children. They will not replace or ‘fix’ the child that she lost. Grieving is not ungrateful — it’s healthy.
3. “I know what you are going through.”: Unless you’ve been through miscarriage, saying this can be of very little comfort. However, if you have experienced loss, many find it comforting to hear how you are functioning through your grief.
4. “At least you weren’t further along.”: There are some who will agree that the further along you are, the harder it is for you. The problem with this is grief is SO individual and diminishing someone’s grief based on a time-line number is dismissive and hurtful.
5. “It was not a real baby just a fetus.”: A “fetus” is a baby. The mom will feel changes from very early on, making the transition to motherhood already there in her mind. It was a real baby.
6. “At least you didn’t know your baby!”: That is basically the problem — she never got to really know her child. Not only is she grieving the baby she never knew — she is grieving the fact she never got that chance. We love our baby from the moment we know we are pregnant.
7. “It’s probably for the best.”: Miscarriages happen for many reasons, and you do not know what may or may not have caused this particular loss. The best for whom? Me? The now dead baby? You? This does not make a person feel better.
8. “It won’t happen again.”: Everyone hopes that everything will be fine in the next pregnancy, but sometimes it isn’t. Women who have recurrent miscarriages often remember being reassured by others that everything would be fine next time, and sometimes this makes for an even harder time coping with the second loss.
9. “After so many miscarriages you should be getting used to it.”: You NEVER get used to it. You should know this comment is hurtful.
10. “Get on with your life, this isn’t the end of the world!”: Grieving is normal, natural and very important. There are some women who are told this one after a very short amount of time and grief doesn’t work that way.
So, what should you say? “I’m so sorry.”
For more information on how you can help support your friend through a miscarriage, visit UnspokenGrief.com
:: What would you add to the list? ::
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