I honestly can’t believe we are walking this road again. Grief is such a windy road and just when I thought we have learned to live with the past, it’s been shoved back into our lives with such eery parallels that it feels like a bad dream. Miscarriage is really hard to understand – especially if you’ve never experienced it. I remember thinking so many “at least” statements when I heard people had miscarried: at least you didn’t have a stillborn, at least your body did it’s job, at least you know you can get pregnant, but now having walked the road myself, not just once but twice, I know that nothing can remove the pain and guilt that accompanies a miscarriage.
Trust me, it’s an awkward topic. As someone who’s bringing it to light, I want to constantly apologize for making others feel uncomfortable as we address something still seen as “taboo” in a society that has learned to accept so many different things but loss still isn’t one of them. Instead of apologizing for having this show up in your life, maybe I can educate you on how to navigate miscarriage (or how to help someone you love walk this road.) When processing our losses we’ve heard so many things, generally meant to be helpful, but they are so incredibly hurtful.
10 things never to say to someone who miscarried:
1. “25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.” Trust me when I say, we know the statistics. Why? Because we’ve been googling them the entire time (sometimes daily.) When you experience a miscarriage you head to google to find only forums, medical articles, and nothing REAL about what’s happening in your body or life. Statistics (while sometimes helpful) don’t change the fact that your baby is under the umbrella of a number that isn’t a positive one.
2. “My friend had 3 miscarriages and now has 2 healthy kids.” This one is all about timing. While wanting to share a vision of hope is so important, this shouldn’t be the first stories coming out of your mouth. When people shared this to me, I wanted to scream, “Good for your friend, I hope I can be as lucky but right now I can’t even imagine it.” If your friend asks for hope, share it then, but this shouldn’t be an immediate reaction to someone telling you they lost their baby.
3. “At least you can get pregnant.” Believe me, I clung to this fact that first time we miscarried. Getting pregnant IS a blessing and a miracle. I struggled so much with guilt that we could get pregnant when there are so many out there who can not. But what good is that fact if you can’t stay pregnant, if that pregnancy only leads to loss? Well intentioned, yes, but not helpful. Let me just leave this right here: any statements starting with the words “at least” are likely going to fall under the hurtful and not helpful category.
4. “Everything happens for a reason.” Would you tell this to someone who’s dad died? Probably not. Especially when they are actively grieving. While I cling to the hope that there is more to my story, it’s hard to even think of what the reason of losing two babies could be. I serve a Savior that I believe makes no mistakes but this line right here, it cuts really deep. We all pray it’s true but in the moment it’s hard to stomach.
5. “Have you gotten checked for: XYZ?” Again, this one is all about timing. When we announced the second time I was flooded with messages of women who had also struggled and figured out why they were miscarrying. While I was utterly thankful for their insight and information it was also so overwhelming and sent me spiraling thinking I had a million things wrong with me. Always think about timing and delivery and remember that we are likely searching so hard for an answer and coming up short.
6. “Maybe you shouldn’t have…” eaten the lunch meat, worked out, had that drink before you knew you were pregnant, gone on that trip… the list goes on and on. As someone who simply wants an answer and who is open about what’s going on, my biggest fear in sharing another loss was for people to jump to conclusions on what I did wrong. I imagined people gossiping about me and why this happened to me and it made me want to throw up. The guilt is already there, no need to bring it up.
7. “Have you considered adoption?” This one caught me off guard. We literally are processing the loss of our baby, the one we prayed for, and now we are considering an entirely different course of action? Well, of course I’ve considered adoption in my life but right now I am grieving the loss of my baby and can’t even begin to think about what our future might hold – which will likely not be easy or inexpensive.
8. “At least it happened early.” I was talking with two girlfriends who have also had two miscarriages and one said, “I literally had planned the next 18+ years of my life in the three days I knew I was pregnant.” As someone who has been pregnant for 20 weeks over the last year and has no babies, I’ve had a LOT of time to think about this baby, pray for it, imagine the nursery, picture our lives. There is never any good time to lose a life. As someone who’s body clung to my babies until the last minute, I know that the timing doesn’t impact the grief.
9. “Your body is just doing it’s job.” Another common response but this one made me want to cry. I feel so betrayed by my body right now. It didn’t do it’s job – it’s job would be to carry this baby and allow me to go through the process of becoming a mom. We understand the medical reasons behind miscarriage but it doesn’t help us to imagine our child with birth defects or issues, in our eyes they were and will be perfect and our bodies have been through a lot in a short amount of time.
10. “It’s just not the right timing.” I bought this one for the first miscarriage but the second one? No. We were ready, we were excited, when people kept saying, “You’ll never be ready for a baby.” We sat there thinking, “Yes, yes we are ready, more than you’ll ever know.” If someone could see into the future and tell me, that I would go on to have two healthy babies and no more loss, I would be able to stomach this easier, but since that’s not the case, we have to live and pray it’s true and that it’s all in God’s timing.
Miscarriage straight up is hard: it’s hard for the women going through it, it’s hard for the men supporting them, it’s hard for people who want to love their friend through the loss. So what is it that you should say? Well, I’ll tell you that it’s not much. These are the only words I would say, “I am so, so sorry for your loss.” It isn’t your job to “fix” it or to offer us hope. It’s your job to support us, love us, accept us through it and just be still with us.
While I know people are trying to be helpful, hopeful, and support us through such a tough time, the above statements can lead to more anger, confusion, guilt and sadness in a world where plenty of that already exists. Miscarriage is hard, it’s messy, and it doesn’t just go away. We learn to live with it, we yearn for things that so many people take for granted, and we walk a road of uncertainty with the one hope that someday we will meet these babies and remind them that we loved them from the moment they were breathed into existence.