Susan is in her sixties with four grown children that have brought her great joy. Yet she still feels the sting of a hurtful comment made after her miscarriage decades ago. Susan painfully recounts how a friend expressed no sympathy but asked, “Do you know what caused it?”
Like Susan, Melanie carries a deep hurt from comments after her miscarriage. One friend who also miscarried told her, “My baby lived 19 weeks while yours only lived five.” Melanie wonders, “Should my grief be less than my friend's just because my baby died earlier in the pregnancy?”
Susan and Melanie aren’t alone. Medical professionals, friends, and family members often feel awkward following a miscarriage. And yet a miscarriage is a death in the family and should be treated as such.
Just because a baby died before its birth doesn’t mean it wasn’t deeply loved, cherished, and wanted. Parents might have already learned the baby’s sex, selected a name, planned the nursery, or bought items for the baby.
So what should you say or do? Stick to the basics. Express your sympathy the same way you would for any other death: in person, by phone, or in a note. Communicate how sorry you are for the loss and let them know that you’re hoping their dreams will come true. Send flowers if that’s what you would normally do or offer to bring a meal. Parents with other children might appreciate some help with childcare while they take care of doctor appointments, errands, or just rest. It’s best to avoid sharing yours or other’s miscarriage experiences; it’s not going to make them feel better and isn’t that what you’d like to do?
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.
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