When Charles and I shared the news with people that we had lost our baby, we had a variety of many different reactions. A majority of people meant well, however that didn’t make their words hurt any less. Miscarriage is a trauma, and unfortunately our society doesn’t fully understand how to help people who have endured trauma. Now, I’m no expert…. but I would like to share with you my experience of things people said to me and what not to say to a woman or couple who have experienced a miscarriage.
1. Trying to Make Them Feel Better…”It will be okay.” “It happen for a reason.”
Many, many, many people told me this. I wouldn’t necessarily consider this phrase bad as much as unhelpful. Yes, it is true that after a traumatic event happens, with time and healing, life goes on and things are somewhat “okay”, However, if someone is in shock, crisis, depressed or unstable…. saying this phrase can make them feel that their situation doesn’t matter, isn’t a big deal or they are overreacting. I never found this phrase helpful, and it only made me angry instead of making me feel better.
2. You’re Not Too Old to Try Again… “You’re young… you’ll have more.”
A cashier at a store said this to me when my husband was buying me a gift in remembrance of our baby. For the record… being young doesn’t not necessarily mean you’ll be able to have more kids, and secondly being young does not make it hurt any less.
3. Asking Too Many Questions and Over Analyzing… “Were you trying?” “Was it a planned pregnancy?” “How did you get pregnant?”
It’s okay to want to help a friend and know information, however take your cues from the other person. More often than not if someone is disclosing that they’ve had a miscarriage they are looking for comfort and support, not for you to analyze them and find a reason why. When it comes to miscarriage, we often never find a reason why. It takes a lot of trust for people to open up and share something very personal with another person.
4. Trying to be Positive… “Stop wallowing.” “It could be worse.” “Cheer up” “Don’t be sad.” “Just be happy already.” “It’s not that bad.”
When someone is in the stages of grief, especially in shock, anger, and depression it’s extremely difficult to be happy. So many women who have suffered a miscarriage feel like their world just came crashing down. Not only did their baby die, but so did all the dreams they had for that baby. So, it’s okay for them to be sad. It’s okay for them to not be okay for awhile. I understand it’s hard to see someone so incredibly heartbroken, but by telling someone not to be sad, is not helpful and may also hinder their healing process.
5. “I understand, my Grandma died.”
I know we may mean well by saying we understand because we’ve lost someone too. However, unless you’ve actually experienced pregnancy loss, or the death of a child, we won’t truly understand. When a woman has a miscarriage, she is not only grieving over the baby she lost, but she is also often blaming herself and her body for failing her. It’s a very complex type of grief. It’s also important to keep in mind that every individual’s situation is different. Even if you and someone else you know has had a miscarriage… it is their own individual loss and individual story.
6. Rushing Them to Get Over the Loss… “When can you start trying again?” “When are you going to have more kids?”
It’s not your place to ask these questions, especially if a miscarriage recently happen. In my personal experience, this is one of the last questions I wanted to be asked. I was grieving for my baby. Allow others to do the same.
7. At least…. “You had a miscarriage… at least you know you can get pregnant.” “At least you only had one miscarriage.” “At least the baby died early so you didn’t have time to bond with them that long.” “At least you weren’t that far along.” “At least it wasn’t a planned pregnancy.” “At least you already have a baby.” “At least it happen quick.”
This is my personal favorite!… that was sarcasm if you couldn’t tell. After having a miscarriage I could not believe how many people use this phrase to try and cheer people up, and not just with miscarriage but pretty much with any bad and uncomfortable situation. I talked about this phrase with my counselor. She explained to me that even though people have good intentions, they don’t realize how hurtful a phrase starting with the words at least really is. The reason people use it is 1) because it’s commonly used, and 2) because when an individual hears of a sad, terrible, uncomfortable event or situation they too feel uncomfortable. As humans we don’t like feeling uncomfortable, and will often try and not stay in that situation. We often do this by looking at silver-linings and the bright side of things. This seems like a good idea to us, because we are turning a sad conversation into something pleasant and taking the uncomfortableness off of us. Good idea right?… Wrong! By doing this, we are ultimately disregarding someone’s feelings and what they have gone through, and that’s not fair. If they are trusting us to hear something very personal about themselves, then instead of feeling uncomfortable and avoiding it, we should just listen.
8. Reactions and Being Over Emotional
It’s understandable that when hearing of something sad and heartbreaking such as a miscarriage, we might be sad for that person. However, we shouldn’t be overly sad, and dramatic for that person and their situation. What I mean is, if someone tells you they have had a miscarriage, don’t be hysterical and more upset than they are. They are the ones that lost the baby, not you. Don’t make it about you.
Again, I’m not a professional but I am 1 in 4 women who have experienced a miscarriage. I am a woman and angel mommy who was hurt by many of these phrases. This is just my personal advice I’d like to offer to others.
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