What NOT to say to someone after a miscarriage…
My husband and I lost our baby towards the end of our first trimester. It was a complete shock when we went for a scan and saw that our baby didn’t have a heartbeat. We had what is known as a missed miscarriage; my body showed no signs of miscarrying by itself and we then had to wait a week for surgery to remove our precious baby. This whole process was tragic, difficult and frightening!!! The reason I am writing this blog isn’t to tell you about our experience because I’m looking for sympathy but to let other parents in the same position know they are not alone and to help their family and friends who have no idea what to say or do. When people don’t know what to say in a difficult situation they tend to just waffle and not think clearly about what they say which can sometimes lead to hurtful things innocently being said. I found as well that others try to deal with miscarriage by de-humanising the baby or making out that it’s not a big deal. I’m going to write some of the comments people made to me after the miscarriage that I’m sure were said with the best of intentions but really didn’t help me personally.
– “You’re young- you can try again.”
In a way at 26 I maybe do have an advantage of youth on my side for trying again. Yes, my biological clock isn’t quite ticking yet but to be honest that is the last thing on your mind after a miscarriage. Nothing and no one can replace that individual child you have lost. It’s not really like dropping a bit of toast butter side down where it’s a bit of an inconvenience but you can just shove another piece of bread in the toaster and make some more. So please, please, please don’t fall into the trap of saying this to a mother who has just lost her child.
– “These things happen all the time. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, they say.”
If something happens all the time it kind of makes it no big deal. Right? Wrong!!! The baby that was lost is so personal to that mother. It was growing inside her, her body was changing to accommodate it and then death coldly snatched her precious cargo from her. That baby is a “big deal” to that mother no matter if these things happens all the time or not.
– “It’s just one of those things…”
So it’s a pretty ambiguous statement and I see where they are coming from, What I think they are saying is: ‘It’s not your fault; life is cruel’. But what it kind of comes out as is, ‘Aw, you lost a baby. What’s on the TV? Life goes on and all that.”
– “Good job it happened early on in your pregnancy.”
I’m afraid there’s nothing good about loosing a baby full stop!
– “ It wouldn’t have been viable.”
Maybe so but it had all its organs in fact it even had ear lobes but it never had a chance so only God knows. It doesn’t mean it will ever leave my heart or make my tears stop sooner.
– “ Was it a D and C you had?
Yes, it is classed as a minor day patient operation but mentally it is so much more. It’s not like you just popped down the hairdresser’s to get your roots done.
– “ Are you feeling broody?”
Yup, seriously – I was asked this a couple times. To be honest as soon as I answered with tears they didn’t have to ask if it was something they had said.
– “How are you?”
This may sound like a simple question but after a miscarriage it doesn’t really get a simple answer. If you are asking this, be prepared – you may not get the answer you expected. These 3 words should come with a warning because as soon as they are spoken it’s like someone has pulled the trigger of a grenade. Please watch out for the location you ask this question as there will be fireworks.
I suppose you can’t win, though. Family and friends who didn’t say anything or acknowledge my loss made it hard to deal with too. It made me think they didn’t care about the death of my baby when they probably just didn’t know what to say and didn’t want to make the same mistakes as above.
The most helpful thing was a friend who gave me a box of chocolates and another that gave me a card to say he was thinking and praying for my family. Simple things like sending texts to remind those who have suffered loss that they are in your prayers are so helpful. They are all that is needed. Nothing you can say or do can ever bring back a baby, but if your friends or family have gone through this just let them know you are there for them and if they ever want to talk you are available. Don’t push them for information – just listen. That’s all.