This Not That – How to Approach Miscarriages
When discussing the topic of miscarriages and pregnancy loss, there are a lot of cliche responses that come to mind when offering sympathy or reason to the situation.
Sometimes offering non-expert techniques or advice can give the subtle implication that the person trying to conceive is not doing enough, or doing something wrong. The fertility journey is different for each individual and it is important to keep in mind that what works for some may not work for others.
Don't make these common mistakes when talking about pregnancy loss, keep reading!
I know how you feel.
I can’t imagine what you’re going through.
Even if you yourself have gone through what you think is a similar experience, or know someone close to you who has, remember that loss and grief are experienced completely different from person to person. Grief is a messy, non-universal emotion - that is very hard to understand for everyone, including the person going through it firsthand. Pretending to understand, or projecting our own personal emotions with someone else's situation is not helpful. Instead, acknowledge their loss is personal and unique only to them, no one else.
You can always try again, and have another baby.
Your feelings matter and are valid.
Instead of minimizing the loss of a pregnancy, focus on the individual or the couple's feelings. Remind them that whatever it is they are feeling is valid and right. It’s not a time that you have to know exactly how to act or know exactly what to say. Loss is messy, and not a one-size-fits-all process.
Be grateful for the children.
I’m thinking of you and your partner.
This isn't about being ungrateful, it’s about wanting to expand your family. Try to remember that even before a baby is born, people begin to create a vision of how their life will be, what their future child will be like, the memories they will have together.
Also keep in mind that pregnancy loss affects both parties, often only the pregnant partner receives support.
At least you know you can get pregnant.
Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
Remember not to force a person who is experiencing loss or trauma to share with you if they are not ready. This is a personal choice, and a decision only they can make.
When speaking to someone trying to conceive, instead of telling them to relax, or stop trying so hard, try to acknowledge or affirm what they are going through and follow up with asking them how they are feeling. This will make them feel seen and heard, rather than unintentionally making them feel as though they are doing something wrong.
At least you didn't know your baby.
It’s not your fault, and you’re not to blame.
Minimizing the loss of a pregnancy is the last thing we want to do. As with most things in life, everyone reacts differently to certain situations. These “at least..” statements are minimizing and hurtful. Of course things could always be worse, but for an individual or couple dealing with a miscarriage, this doesn't ring true.
Try to remember that even before a baby is born, people begin to create a vision of how their life will be, what their future child will be like, the memories they will have together.
Everything happens for a reason, it's for the best.
I’m sorry for your loss, I don't know what to say.
What reason comes to mind? Let me guess “It just wasn't meant to be''? These statements are lacking in empathy, and do not provide much comfort. Instead, be honest that there are no words that will make this better, there’s nothing that you can do, it’s okay to not know what to say.
If someone in your life has experienced a miscarriage, remember that you do not need to have the answers or solutions, you just need to be there for them as a support system if they choose to lean on you.
If you are someone who has experienced a pregnancy loss first-hand, know that you are not alone, but your experience is unique and personal. Do not expect everyone around you (or even you yourself) to know the right thing to say, and do not be afraid to ask for what you need.