Thursday, August 9, 2012

Miscarriages: What to Say or Do?

What To Say and Do For Someone Who's Had A Miscarraige

Yesterday's post was about things you should know about miscarriages whether you've had one or know of someone who has.  One of the things I learned was that people will say all the wrong things but typically not on purpose.  They really are trying to comfort those who have experienced a loss but often just don't know what to say or do.  Well this post is for those people.

Let's start with the things not to say and why.
Don't Say:
"You will have other babies."
"It was nature's way of getting rid of an unhealthy baby."
"It's in God's plan."
"It was still so early."
"At least you know you can get pregnant."
"At least you already have a child."
"At least..."
"Maybe it just wasn't meant to be."
"I had a miscarriage once, then had my perfect baby."
"I know exactly what you're going through.  I lost a grandma, cousing, etc."
"You'll forget all about this when you get a healthy baby."
"This kind of thing happens all the time."
"A lot of women have miscarriages."
"It will happen when its suppose to."
"There was probably something wrong with the baby."
"Now you know what So and So has gone through"
"There's always adoption."
"I know someone who couldn't get pregnant/had a miscarriage and didn't have a baby until they started the adoption papers."
Why:  Some of the above are very true.  However, spitting out facts does not change anything.  You want to recognize that a loss occurred, not try and figure out why.  I didn't want anyone to try and "fix it,"  I just lost my baby and there isn't anything anyone can do to change that.  It really isn't helpful to know that a large portion of the population will go through something similar.  I am a very religious person and I truly believe God has a plan for me.  That doesn't mean we aren't suppose to hurt when bad things happen nor should we try and skip over that pain.  Even in the bible we learn that "Jesus mourned with those who mourned."  just because someone has strong faith doesn't make trials any easier, that's why they are called trials.   
Comparing trials or losses isn't helpful either, we want to supress that "Me Monster" and not try and one up each other.  We don't know exactly what the other person is going through, even if we ourselves have had a miscarriage.  We're different people with different bodies and a different set of circumstances.  As I discussed yesterday, just because a miscarriage happens early doesn't mean we will be less sad.
Hope is wonderful tool and necessary but in the right timing.  The few days or weeks after a miscarriage the last thing I wanted to hear was that it was going to be ok and to be reassured that I will have a healthy baby someday.  Even if that's true I still went through a loss and need to be able to mourn that loss.  Hope will come later.   
Having a miscarriage changes your view on pregnancy in general.  The next time you take a pregnancy test you won't be quite as excited, there will be more fear that you will have another miscarriage.  In my case, yes I can get pregnant but I can't seem to hold on to them. 
You get the idea.  The key is to recognize the loss and mourn with that person over their hardship.  It gives us the opportunity to serve others.
So what does someone say or do"
Do Say:
"I'm so sorry for your loss."
"If you need someone to talk to, I'm here to listen."
"Do you need some space?"
"Do you want to talk about it or would you like a distraction?"
"What can I do to help?"
"I've had a miscarriage, they're hard."
Why:  Sometimes it is as simple as saying, "I'm so sorry for your loss." and nothing more.  Again you want to validate that person, their loss, and even what they may be feeling. 
For the first few miscarriages I was afraid to tell people how I was feeling and my line of thought.  I didn't want them to try and change those feelings or think less of me for my thoughts.  This last time though I finally felt comfortable opening up to my sister-in-law and admitting that I was angry, perhaps even at God and that I thought He would understand my feelings and not condemn me for them.  She was very gracious and listened to my ramblings and completely understood. 
There are times when one will need to talk about what happened and other times when they will need something to keep them occupied.  Usually the latter doesn't come until a little bit later. 
The first few days I needed space.  I didn't want to talk to anyone but my husband.  I rarely left my bedroom expect for the daily run down to the freezer to get the chocolate ice cream.  I still needed the support though.  While I shut myself out from the outside world it was helpful to get phone messages, emails, texts, etc from others telling me how sorry they were or offering their services. 
Then after at least a couple weeks it was nice to recieve lunch invitations or a girl's night out where I wasn't expected to talk about what happened but be able to enjoy other aspects of life. 
Two of the things I found to be the most helpful were flowers and cards or notes sent in the mail.  I didn't have to interact with others just yet but they put a bright spot in my day.  Having bright colors in the house can be healing.  I have very thoughtful family members and have on more than one occasion recieved notes in the mail.  My neices spent a good amount of time drawing pictures for us that I later hung on the fridge.  
My best friends have put together survival kits that included a bunch of borrowed chick flicks, chocolate, popcorn, tissues, books to read, etc.  They dropped them off and told me to call when I was ready.   
Friends and family arranged for meals to be brought it.  I think my husband appreciated that most of all.  Again they called and said they wanted to bring a meal at X time, dropped of the meal, gave us a hug, and then left.
I appreciated those who confided in me that they had a miscarriage at some point too.  They may not know exactly what I'm going through but they have a good idea.  It also meant so much to me that they would share something so personal, they trusted me with their feelings.  It helped me not to feel quite as alone and to know who I could ask certain questions to if I wanted.  Weird as it may be there have even been times where finding out a certain person had a miscarriage even gave me stregnth.  If they could get through it, I will too.   
Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to miscarriages.  Even the above are more suggestions than anything.  Sometimes we feel promted to say something different and that's ok.  I also don't want others to read this, find they said something on the top list and worry.  People aren't perfect and I have come to understand that better.  Many people have asked later what they should or shouldn't say/do so I wrote a post.  
I truly am grateful for all of those who have tried to help and even at my lowest points have never felt alone.  I feel blessed to have such great friends and family and who were part of the inspiration for this free download of the month


  1. Thanks for the tips on what not to/and say. That's the tough part as the friend who wants to help.

  2. I also suffered a miscarriage and I can agree with your tips on what not to say. Miscarriages ARE hard and it is comforting to be validated with a simple "I'm sorry for your loss".

  3. I totally agree! I lost my first pregnancy and then wound up pregnant with perfectly healthy twin girls, but there are just no words to help the hurt. Honestly, for me, cards were the best condolences because I could read them in private, cry if I needed to, and move on. It was touching to know that others cared, but at least with a card they could REALLY think about the words before just blurting them out to my face. I now always send cards!

  4. Thank you so much for this post! I'm one of those people who always wonders if I am saying or doing the right thing to support someone going through a loss (of any kind). These are such wonderful tips and I truly appreciate your openness! ~Tina @Mamas Like Me

  5. I was asked to have my post about losing our baby, published on the Miscarriage association site. They said it was very informative and not too over emotional. Sometimes the facts are all we can deal with and we want to know what will happen. Here is a link to my post and to the UK Miscarriage Association.

  6. Thank you for your courage. I lost my baby is 08 and I can completely agree with what you're saying. Just a thought for husband and I (when we were ready) decided to release white balloons in front of the Washington Monument (we lived there) as a way to mourn, memorialize, and let go. We took pictures. I don't know it just worked for us. I liked this idea because I wanted people to know that she existed.

  7. These are very great points. I know that I never know what to say when I found out someone has experienced a miscarriage. It is so important to remember that, more than anything, the parents experiencing the loss just needs support.