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September 04, 2013

Responses to Pregnancy Loss

According to the March of Dimes, at least one in four women will suffer a miscarriage during their childbearing years. That's 25 percent. And yet, in society, it's very rarely discussed. It's something that women are just expected to deal with on their own in private. That's a lot of women grieving alone.    

Well, I hate that. And, I've obviously decided to be much more open then most about my journey with pregnancy loss. But, by doing that, I've become acutely aware that a lot of people just have no idea how to respond to miscarriage and pregnancy loss. I think this is part of the reason people  choose to suffer alone following a miscarriage instead of relying on the support of their family and friends. 

And, I'm not blaming anyone here. It's an uncomfortable and raw topic. It's hard, even for me to respond when I've learned someone has had a miscarriage, because I know nothing is going to help that person. But, I think there are better responses than others. These are just my opinions, but here are some good responses to miscarriages... 

Good Responses

"Is there anything I can do for you right now?"
"If you need someone to talk to, I'm here." 
"I'm sorry for your loss." 
"You're not alone, I share your pain." {If you've also suffered a miscarriage} 
Just offering hugs and physical presence. 

I think its just important to honor the pain the person is going through and offer as much support as you can. Miscarriage can be extremely isolating, and its good to know that you're not completely alone. 

pregnancy loss, miscarriage, responding

And you know what will make a woman feel even more alone, saying any of the following. And, yes, I've been told almost all of these. 

Just Keep Your Mouth Shut

"It's just natures/God's plan/way." Or really any variation of this. 
"These things just happen." 
"At least it was early."
"It's better this way, instead of having a child with severe disabilities."
"You'll get pregnant again in no time."

These responses, while often well meaning, are just hurtful -- hands down not helpful, not supportive. 

I hope this post serves to help people respond to miscarriage in a more supportive way, so more women don't feel like they need to hide what has happened to them. Anyone else have a positive response suggestion? Or one that people should avoid? Am I way off here?


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Mandi said…
Great post. I was at the hospital with my second son at 8 weeks due to bleeding. It turned out to be nothing in the end, but the doctors basically said if it happens it happens, we can't stop it. The discharging nurse actually went on a whole, God's plan rant. I never wanted to punch someone in the face more than I did at that moment.

Dyan Robson
Dyan Robson said…
You're right on track. I hated hearing the "at least it was early" one. Makes no difference, early or late, as I still lost a baby. A baby that I really wanted.

I am going to share this as it is something that seems to be hush, hush. And I dislike the fact that it is!
Olive said…
You are spot on. I heard the "at least it was early" line. My least favorite was "Are you sure you were pregnant?" because it was so early.

My friend (who had her own loss) just showed up at my door with food and a hug, and then she left. My parents left work and took my daughter for the day. Those were about the only helpful things anyone could have done.
Anonymous said…
A comment that really hurt a friend while she was dealing with multiple losses was "You can always adopt." It's true, but definitely not what my grieving friend wanted to hear when having lost a biological child. It's not an issue of replacement.

Unfortunately, more often than not I've said nothing (or the wrong thing) because I just didn't know what to say or was trying to stay positive. Thanks for this post because I hope it gives me courage to say the right/supportive thing next time.
Chelley N
Chelley N said…
I think you are spot on with this list. As a woman who has miscarried 2 of 4 pregnancies, I have heard a lot of hurtful comments, but also felt a tremendous amount of overwhelming love. It is hard to know what to say, but steering away from trying to "fix" it and showing that your heart is hurting with your friend is a good policy in my opinion.
Sarah @ Vol Family Life
Someone once told me that asking, "Is there anything I can do?" is so pointless. That the better thing to do was to think up something appropriate and then go do it. I've only experienced a miscarriage with a friend once. It was very hard for us (as her friends too) because I was pregnant, her twin sister was pregnant and our other best friend was pregnant. Other than just hugging her while she cried I didn't really know what to do. Her sister and I cleaned her house from top to bottom and made her several meals and left them for her and her husband. It was our "appropriate thing to do" so we did it.

I think this kind of well meaning (but often hurtful) comfort is common in a lot of difficult for "outsiders" to understand type situations. I dealt with a lot of, "just have strong faith in God" and "God is making you stronger" and "aren't you feeling better YET?" when I was dealing with PPD/A. Well meaning but very hurtful. I just wanted someone to hold me and say that they were sorry, they weren't sure why this was happening but that they would be there for me until I felt better again. I think that's pretty much what we all want when we are suffering and grieving. We just want someone there, not someone to fix it.

Sorry for the novel, and I'm sorry you've had to go through this.
Ruth Freeman
Ruth Freeman said…
No word will be enough to soothe a mummy's grieving over a miscarriage, but all of them are included in our prayers. Hopefully there will be studies to be done on how to prevent miscarriage. There are experts arguing about how steroids can be a help for mothers by reducing the NK (natural killer) cells in the womb. Here's the link if you want to spread the word for other mothers, so they may ask options with their doctors:
May said…
"At least it was early" makes me feel guilty for grieving a loss at all. As though I don't deserve to feel sad at such an early loss. As though my pain is somehow less than those who suffer later losses. And yet, I find myself saying it more often than not. I wish I didn't.
May said…
"At least it was early" makes me feel guilty for grieving a loss at all. As though I don't deserve to feel sad at such an early loss. As though my pain is somehow less than those who suffer later losses. And yet, I find myself saying it more often than not. I wish I didn't.
Anonymous said…
I have lost two babies, both at ten weeks. I've heard all of the above negitive comments but also other not helpful ones such as "Your young, you can try again"; "I know how you feel- I've had my tubes tied", (in reference to someone who had a stillbirth at the same time I miscarried)-"now THAT would be hard" (meaning I was grieving over nothing that was a big deal... But the worst one ever was "well, it wasn't really a baby yet". UGH!
Tina said…
Nicole, I think you have given good advice on how to respond to those who have lost their babies. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject.