It can be hard to find the right words to comfort a friend who has suffered a miscarriage. It can be even more difficult if you have never experienced the kind of loss that your grieving friend is going through. Baby Hints and Tips contributor, Amanda Nicholls has some helpful points to consider when faced with your friend’s devastating news.
Miscarriage is somewhat of a taboo topic. Unless you have had the misfortune of suffering one, or have spoken in great detail with someone who has lost a much hoped for pregnancy, it is extremely hard to understand how a mother grieving for a lost pregnancy might be feeling.
Sure she’s sad, that’s to be expected. But what are you meant to say? What can you possibly do to take away the hurt she’s feeling? Believe it or not, there are some things that should never be said to a friend or family member in this predicament. Your intentions might be from the best place and certainly your words aren’t meant to cause your friend any additional upset, but next time you are faced with the news that someone dear to you has lost a much hoped for pregnancy, try and avoid these old cliches;
“You’re young, you have plenty of time to try again.”
“It’s for the best, it wasn’t meant to be.”
“There must have been something wrong with the baby.”
“It wasn’t really a baby.”
“At least you know you can fall pregnant.”
As recently as January this year, the NSW Government made the move to formally recognise miscarriages with a certificate issued by NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This was a win for the women of NSW who had the joy of falling pregnant, had imagined a life with a new baby shortly in their future, only to have that dream lost when the pregnancy terminated.
Whether the pregnancy was lost after four weeks or four months makes no difference to a woman who has suffered a miscarriage. It’s not about the baby’s gestational age, it’s about the fact that a life that had been created, had also been taken away unwillingly.
Here at Baby Hints and Tips, we asked our community what friends and family did to either help or make them feel worse in the event of a miscarriage. While the above lines seemed to be used in most cases, what readers found even more devastating was the lack of people who offered condolences.
“I felt abandoned. Nobody talked to me for weeks. Probably having a shoulder to cry on and someone to talk to would have been good,” said Belinda.
Sally added, “Not one person said ‘I’m sorry for your loss.’ It was awful.”
However not everyone who has been through the trauma of pregnancy loss is looking for you to say anything at all. Some members of the Baby Hints and Tips community preferred to have the space to reflect on their loss in private.
“Just knowing that your friends and family are there if you decide you need them helps,” said Kimberley. “It’s such an emotional time, sadly no words are right,” added Chrissy.
After reading all of the sad, beautiful, touching and honest responses to our question, the one thing that most of the mothers who contributed to this conversation had in common was that they had all suffered a profound loss. And even though we may assume that a viable pregnancy after a miscarriage will wipe away the pain of the past, for these women, they will forever remember the babies that they never got to hold, and while time eventually heals the wound, the loss of a pregnancy is forever a part of her life.
So if you find yourself confronted with this most upsetting news and you really aren’t sure what the right thing to say is – it helps to remember there is no ‘right’ thing to say. But a meaningful hug, an expression of your deepest sympathy or even a simple ‘how are you feeling?’ to check in on your loved one will go a very long way.
If you have suffered a miscarriage and need someone to talk to, Baby Hints and Tips have compiled a list of helpful resources:
To read the comments from the BH&T initial chat on pregnancy loss, click here.