Pregnancy is a beautiful and miraculous occasion. Sadly and surprisingly, one in four pregnancies ends with the loss of the baby. The process can be lengthy, exhausting, grueling, emotionally wrecking, and hard on a woman’s body and spirit. I’d venture to say that it can not fully be understood or grasped until experienced, though I wish it on no one.
In my own experience, I have found that people often do not know what to say, both during and after the loss. That is mainly because everyone is different; we all react differently to situations and events, and show or provide sympathy and empathy in our own, unique way. Throughout this process, I have found that some words, though always given with good intent, hit harder than others.
Meant only to help, here is my list of what not to say to a person experiencing a miscarriage:
1. “It is for the best.” A physician’s assistant said this to me after initially receiving the news. How does anyone know just what is “best”, and in what way is death best? Although well-intentioned, I feel as though this one is something not well thought-out. It made my mind start racing, and began an endless stream of doubt and questions.
2. “I know exactly how you feel/what you are going through.” It is usually comforting when others try to relate to a situation in which you find yourself, but as I previously stated, everyone processes and handles things differently. A loss is no exception. When my Grandfather passed, I reacted entirely out of character, and in contrast to everyone else around me. We may all know and have experienced loss, but are not emotionally the same. I suggest giving it time before offering personal experience, as hard as it may be to not extend a verbal olive branch.
3. “You can try again, right?” or, “You will have another child. Have faith.” What if the person is not ready to think about it, let alone discuss it? Not everyone intends to become pregnant to begin with, and not everyone wishes to continue trying thereafter. I feel that this is an invasive question, that brings about added and unwanted stress and pressure.
4. “The baby is in a better place.” or other variation of it being God’s will. As a woman of tested and endured faith, I do believe that there is a reason for everything, but to think that – while here on Earth, and grieving – there is any other place besides my arms that could possibly be better for the baby is unfathomable. It is not comforting to think that I was not what was best, regardless of the truth behind the message.
5. “It will be okay.” Sure, Mom, Dad, and family will survive, but it is entirely insensitive to suggest that everyone will just carry on as normal. Maybe let Mom and Dad decide what is “okay”?
I suggest offering hugs, meals, and a shoulder or ear. Do not feel compelled to respond at all, but if you do, please remember that others may not react as you do or expect.
If you are experiencing a loss, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Please, reach out when you are ready. Do not do this alone.