I’ve always known that when it comes to pregnancy, I have been pretty lucky. I’ve conceived easily and had fairly simple, straightforward pregnancies and deliveries. But lately I’ve had numerous friends and family members experience the loss of a child through miscarriage and still birth, and I’ve been reminded all over again of just how lucky I’ve really been.
Not having shared this experience with them, I’ve often felt at a loss for what to say or do for those I love who have miscarried. So I did what anyone does when they don’t know the answer to something … I asked the Internet. I put out a call to friends to share the things they wish people knew about going through miscarriage — things they wish people would have said or done (or not said or done). The response was fantastic and so helpful, so I decided to put together their thoughts here so you can help your loved ones too.
There is no difference in pain based on how far along a woman is.
Losing a baby at 6 weeks or 36 weeks. They are absolutely different types of devastation, but the pain is just as real in an early loss. Don’t make it seem less than. Please call my miscarriage a miscarriage. Please call my baby by name if it had one. The cards, flowers, texts, emails, and meals will come to a stop … this is the time to remember to check in on the parents. Make sure they don’t feel forgotten. The loss can be so searing and paralyzing that time stands still. The whole world seems to go forth and move on, but for those who have lost a baby, it doesn’t for some time. It’s hard to see all the trivial movement and commotion around you when a dream that big, a child and the hope of your family, is altered and taken. Again, no matter how far along the loss occurred.” — Lauren, 5 miscarriages + 1 stillbirth
When in doubt, keep it simple.
” … a simple ‘I’m sorry, that shouldn’t have happened to you’ is really comforting.” — Leah, miscarried at 6 weeks
“I think the people I found most encouraging were the ones who didn’t assume I felt a certain way. But the ones who had been through it and just offered to help and let me ask questions of them and checked in or just showed up with practical help, without making me feel like I owed them an explanation of my feelings or a validation of how THEY felt during THEIR experience with it as I was going through it.” — Amanda, 1 miscarriage
Keep the memory alive.
“I purchased a small bean necklace to wear in memory. It was very comforting for me to have something to wear daily to symbolize my loss.” — Ashley, 1 miscarriage
Don’t talk about the children we will have, and forget the one we lost.
“For me, a big no-no was reminding me that I can try again. Don’t mention a friend that was in a similar situation and managed to have another child. Don’t mention that everything happens for a reason and that there is another baby just waiting. You may think that it will provide hope during a dark time, but it didn’t for me. It just hurt. At that moment, all I wanted was to grieve this child I lost. Months later, I still don’t like to hear others ask when I will have more. It is best to avoid that type of discussion unless that person brings it up.” — Jess, 1 miscarriage
Don’t avoid the subject.
“For me, it was important that friends and family acknowledged what happened instead of avoiding the subject. The elephant in the room, if you will. I know they probably meant well or felt awkward about what to say, but ignoring it made me feel as if those babies weren’t real and that my grief was somehow not valid. I appreciated when friends would tell me how sorry they were even if they couldn’t relate.” — Emily, 2 miscarriages
A hug makes us feel less alone.
“What to say is hard but I wish someone would have asked, is there anything I can do? Or can I hug you? I didn’t get that and I felt like I was holding on to a lot and felt very much alone. But I understand that it was because no one knew what to say or what to do … maybe just offer a hug and then hold them.” — Yanira, 7 miscarriages
Little, everyday acts of kindness go a long way.
“Honestly, just like any tragedy there isn’t much you can say to someone. The best thing to do is let them know you care, that you are thinking about them, and that you can be there if they need help. Offer to bring them a meal, walk their dog, babysit, or clean. It’s a hopeless feeling and just having someone there to take a load off its amazing.” — Brynn, 2 miscarriages
No matter your beliefs, please don’t say, “It’s God’s will.”
“I wished people wouldn’t say “It’s God’s will” or that “God has a plan.” Faith in God and knowing His nearness in my pain brought me deep comfort, but people’s Christian-y comments were irritating. I don’t think God willed for me to be in utter pain and the devastation of loss.” — Whitney, 2 miscarriages
Let us mourn.
“The friend who was there for me the most was the friend who when I told her, started crying with me, told me how sorry she was, and let me mourn and just was there with me. She didn’t have to say anything fancy or brilliant, she was just there and she let me feel how I was feeling. She tried to help me move on with life and laugh and do things, but she let me be sad too.” — Rachel, 1 miscarriage
We will never stop struggling with it.
“I wish people knew how much it hurt to miss someone that I never met [and how that makes] it so difficult to move on. I was grieving alone. Everyone checked in with me during the process but I always thought it would have been comforting for someone to continue to check in with me months even a year later.” — Jessica, 3 miscarriages
Sit with us.
“I LOVED when someone would stop by just to be with me. I hate being alone so this really made me feel like others were grieving along side me.” — Kirsten, 1 miscarriage
Offer to help with our other children.
” … it would have been nice to have more help with my then-toddler son. It was so hard to give myself the physical and emotional rest I needed to heal during recovery. A dinner here or there, a little childcare, or even company would have helped so much.” — Lori, 2 miscarriages
We are not “better off.”
“I think the one thing I wish someone had NOT done was tell me that miscarriages happen because there’s something wrong with the baby & we were better off with nature taking course. I didn’t care if our baby was sick. I wanted him/her no matter what. The best thing was when my friends came over with a care basket & dinner. They brought fuzzy slippers & booze & my favorite treats & movies/books for recovery time.” — Beth Anne, 1 miscarriage
Let us come to you in our own time.
“I think the old ‘if you want to talk, I’m here for you.’ worked best because I had weeks where I just wanted to be left alone but when I finally wanted to talk about it, I’m glad I had a friend(s) who was there for me to do just that and kind of process everything that happened.” — Katie, 2 miscarriages