The morning I lost my baby was a completely normal, boring morning. I got ready for work, made it there with at least five or ten minutes to spare, joked with my boss about a card she found, sat down and did my thing. I write all this because it was such a completely and totally innocuous morning. No pain, no cramping, nothing wrong. When I saw the blood in the toilet, my boss took me to the hospital as a precaution, not because either of us thought anything was truly wrong. I was eleven weeks pregnant, after all, and chances were likely this was the spotting that so many newly pregnant women experience. It wasn’t. Though I’d never had reason to think about it before, within less than 24-hours I knew there were at least 5 Things NOT To Say To Someone Who Had A Miscarriage.
I want to start by disclosing that it’s been Years for me since I lost my baby, but somehow it still hurts. Last week I found out a friend of mine lost hers and I knew it was time to write this post. So whether you’ve been through it or are reading to better know how to support your friends, know that my heart is with you. I truly have been there, and I am very sorry for your loss.
5 Things NOT To Say To Someone Who Had A Miscarriage
1. It’s better it happened now.
No. That is never the case. I know people are trying to be supportive by imagining how much more painful this loss would have been had baby made it further along, but the truth is from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I was already imagining my child through every stage of her life…even as far as believe in my heart that she was a girl. Her name would have been Emma Elizabeth and even if I’d lost her the day after I found out I was pregnant, it would have been too soon.
Instead…ask your loved one about the child they were carrying. Maybe they didn’t think much about it yet, or maybe…like me…they want people to know how amazing their child would have been.
2. It wasn’t your time.
That does not help even a little bit. All that does is offer in questions of fate and religion and the great beyond. All I wanted was a chance to curl my arms around the beautiful orange teddy bear I bought for Emma and cry about all the things I wouldn’t ever be able to say to her. Thinking about universal truths or a grand plan only made me feel bitter and angry about the baby I never got to hold. The truth was, I needed to go through the five stages of grief, and telling me it wasn’t my time was like skipping four of them and going straight to the pretty end.
Instead…be present with your loved one with whatever stage of grief they are in. If they are angry, be angry. If they are bargaining, listen to it. Eventually they will reach a state of acceptance and they will be so thankful that you helped them through those stages.
3. It wasn’t meant to be.
This is another one that hurt like hell. You would never tell a grieving parent who lost a breathing child that it wasn’t meant to be. Nooooo. Telling a woman who miscarried a baby that that baby wasn’t meant to be takes away every single dream, hope, plan, and even that little bit of time she actually had with that child. This isn’t a debate about the moment of humanhood or anything like that…if a woman miscarries a child and is upset about it then in her mind that child already WAS. No wasn’t meant to be about it because that child was fully alive in her mind.
Instead…keep it simple. I’m sorry for your loss. That really is enough.
4. So are you going to keep trying?
This one hurts my teeth. Losing a baby isn’t like getting a bad score on the LSAT. Before ever even beginning to think about trying again or future pregnancies or adoption or anything else, women who have miscarried have to make it through the loss of this child. This one. My Emma was my world though I never met her and I would have laid down my life in exchange for hers. Keep trying? Not an appropriate question.
Instead…ask your friend or loved one if there is anything they want to do in memory of the baby they lost. Let them lead the discussion.
5. So when will you go back to work?
Even the most well meaning friends asked me when I’d go back to work. I was lucky, my boss told me to take all the time I need, but because miscarriage isn’t an illness some people forget that grieving takes time. My child was a part of me from the moment those lines turned blue; her death felt like a part of me died.
Instead…ask your friend or loved one if they’ll need any financial help while they are grieving. Are there any bills that need to be paid, or phone calls that need to be made. What can you do to make this time of grieving less hard for them?
When anyone loses a child I think we all struggle with what to say to them. We want to be supportive, but not pry. Loving, but not smothering. The biggest thing to remember about anyone who has a miscarriage is that they did indeed lose a child. Love them. Listen to them. Give them your support. If you’re able to do those three things you will make it easier for them to grieve. And if you can’t figure out what to say, then don’t say anything. Sit with them. Hold their hand, if they’ll let you. Hug them when they ask. Being there for someone who has miscarried will mean more to them then words could ever express.