What is it about a miscarriage that makes it so difficult to say the right thing? Women who miscarry report that they’re frequently the target of callous and hurtful comments that dismiss or trivialize their loss. While the list of offenders includes friends, colleagues, and medical professionals, the worst culprits might surprise you; often family members, especially their own moms, mothers-in-law, sisters, and sisters-in-law.
Here’s a list of what you should NEVER say after a miscarriage:
• It happened for a reason.
• There was probably something wrong with your baby.
• It's God's will.
• It was for the best.
• Now you have your own angel.
• At least you didn’t know the baby.
• You can try again.
• You can always have another.
• You already have two healthy kids.
• Be grateful for the children you have.
• I can imagine how you feel.
So what can you say? Be honest: “I’m so shocked, I just don’t know what to say” or “I know how much you wanted this baby and I’m so sorry.” Comfort them with: “I’m praying that your dreams will come true” or “You're going to be wonderful parents someday." Assure them: “I’m here for you” and make good on your promise. Extend a sincere offer: “What can I do to help?” and follow through on it.
One mom reported that many family members said hurtful things but one knew exactly what to do – listen. Her sister sat with her while she cried, listening carefully while she shared her feelings and pain. When she was finished, her sister repeated back to her what she’d said. In doing so, her sister communicated that she was listening and understood how the mom was feeling.
It’s important to remember that a miscarriage is a death and should be treated as such. The mom and dad feel as awful as anyone feels following a death. It will take them awhile to recover and move on with their lives. Be patient with them. And watch what you say.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.