Never Say These 9 Things to Someone Who’s Had a Miscarriage
Having a miscarriage is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can go through, especially for those who’ve been struggling to conceive or have had a miscarriage in the past. Having one at any point in life can leave a person feeling not only distraught, but totally hopeless. We all want to say the right thing, but there are some things better left unsaid. In the case of trying to console a person who’s gone through a miscarriage, here are nine things you should absolutely never say.
1. Everything happens for a reason
Even if you believe this to be true, it’s best to bite your tongue. Don’t feel compelled to share this sentiment with a person who’s just suffered a loss. “This statement minimizes the intensity of what happened and takes away from the woman’s grief,” Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. and a specialist in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health, told Us Weekly. “You also don’t want to assume spirituality or religion.” The idea that everything really does happen for a reason may help them come to peace one day, but it’s important they do it on their own time.
2. I didn’t know you were trying to get pregnant
Is what you know, or didn’t know, really what’s important here? Absolutely not. As Redbook points out, no one needs your permission. Trying to conceive is a very personal matter, so don’t act shocked when you hear your friend — whom you had no idea was pregnant in the first place — just had a miscarriage. Instead, try to set your own feelings aside, and steer very clear of such an insensitive comment.
3. It happens
The fact that miscarriages are a very real part of many people’s lives is totally irrelevant. Saying “it happens” to someone who’s just lost their baby only tells them you’re trying to make light of the traumatic event. Rosie Houston, who’s experienced four miscarriages, explains how painful words were during her own experience.
“I often felt frustrated at people’s responses, comments such as, ‘they are so common,’ ‘it will happen,’ or, ‘at least it was early,'” she told Tommy’s, a London-based research center for stillbirth, premature birth, and miscarriage. “But I was so gutted and sad. People lose their parents but you’d never respond with ‘it happens.’ Losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy is traumatic and all you really want to hear is ‘I’m so sorry.'”
4. I’ve been there
Yes, misery loves company, but we’re not talking about stressed-out co-workers complaining about the boss together. In the case of a person who’s just had a miscarriage, try not to assume you know exactly what they’re going through. Even if you’ve experienced one yourself, you’re not living the life they are.
Furthermore, Scary Mommy reminds people this isn’t a high-five worthy moment. No need to celebrate the fact you’re both in the “miscarriage club.” And while you know how you best dealt with your own experience, you don’t know how a miscarriage is going to affect another person.
5. At least you didn’t know your baby
This is a tough one. Would it have been harder to lose a child that actually did live outside the womb at one point? Well, as Babble explains, the fact that someone didn’t ever meet their baby is the exact problem. “Not only is she grieving the baby she never knew — she is grieving the fact she never got that chance,” the publication writes. “We love our baby from the moment we know we are pregnant.” For this reason, it’s imperative you don’t discount another person’s bond with their unborn child, no matter what.
6. At least you weren’t too far along
Like we said, most people love their baby from the moment they learn they’re pregnant. So, it shouldn’t matter at all how far along they were before losing the baby. “For example, because I miscarried early on, I was never admitted to the hospital, and I could make do with over-the-counter pain relievers,” Christine O’Brien writes of her own experience on What To Expect. “The emotional side effects, however, were quite strong. A miscarriage means a lost child, no matter when it occurs.”
7. You’ll have another baby
First of all, how do you know that for sure? Of course there’s no way to know whether another person is capable of conceiving and carrying a baby to full term. Maybe this time was her last shot after years of painful struggling. Not to mention, these words do nothing more than discount the pain felt for the baby your friend just lost. And according to Scary Mommy, telling someone they’ll have another baby is like saying babies are easily replaced, which isn’t true.
8. At least you can get pregnant
Perhaps you think this is the right thing to say, but playing the glass-half-full card won’t do anything in the way of offering support and comfort for your grieving friend. Furthermore, Parents points out pregnancy isn’t the end goal for any woman. The end goal is delivering a healthy child. “Getting pregnant is the first step to parenthood, and a woman who has miscarried is also robbed of that seemingly natural right,” the publication explains. “Plus, there’s really no reason to compare one woman’s struggles to another’s.”
9. Be thankful for the children you have
Just because a woman who’s miscarried has other children, should she consider herself lucky? While you may be trying to help her see all the good things she does have in her life (back to that glass-half-full strategy), she still has the right to grieve on her own terms. Her current children do not replace the one she’s lost. “Grieving the loss of a baby has no effect on how they feel about their living children,” Babble says. “They will not replace or ‘fix’ the child that she lost. Grieving is not ungrateful — it’s healthy.”
How to show support for someone who’s had a miscarriage
Now that we’ve gotten the don’ts out of the way, here’s a little perspective on what a person who’s just gone through a miscarriage might actually appreciate. It’s a difficult subject, but there are ways you can show your support, without overstepping or coming off as insensitive. For example, the American Pregnancy Association recommends using the baby’s name when talking about him or her with the parents, encouraging them to express their pain, and offering to pack up and return any baby items they may already have.
For more suggestions, visit the American Pregnancy Association’s page on how to support family and friends through this difficult time.