Miscarriage: What to Say?

In our miscarriage story, I shared how I felt lonely and that few people spoke with me about it. It was painful. At times it made me feel that my family and friends didn’t care. As I began to let go of my bitterness, I stopped holding these people to a standard of giving me comfort. I forgave.

But I also realized something. About a month after the woman stopped me in the hall at church, my sister-in-law spoke to me after a church function with another women by her side (this woman had 5 miscarriages before having her first child). She apologized for not saying anything or asking me how I was dealing with the miscarriage. She couldn’t imagine what I was going through or what it was like to lose a child….she didn’t know what to say.

For some reason compassion swelled in my heart. I was blessed and freed by her apology. But it also opened up my eyes to the other side of a miscarriage. Many people keep quiet simply because they don’t know what to say. To be honest, I know I would have been in the same boat prior to losing Addison.

This is one of the reasons why I am open to sharing about my experience with losing a baby. After we had our miscarriage it seemed women came out of the woodwork saying they’d had a miscarriage too. Some statistics say that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Still so many women say nothing of their experiences because grief hurts. Love is risky.

The problem with this is women grieving a miscarriage feel they’re alone. They need to be heard. They need to hear the experiences of other women. Now, when I meet a woman who’s had a miscarriage and I share I have too, there’s an instant bond. I don’t have to tell her what I experienced or how I felt. She’s been there too. She understands.

But where does that leave those who haven’t lost? I believe, they still have a role to play.

What do you say when a family loses a baby?

  1. The most important thing is to say something. That family, the woman especially, needs to know you’re there and willing to hear. So many people often avoid those experiencing loss, because it’s uncomfortable and they feel ill-equipped to help if they haven’t experienced the same thing.
  2. Be wise in your words. While most of the time saying something is better than saying nothing, be careful what you say. Comments about “Maybe next time will be better” or “I guess this wasn’t God’s timing” do little to help and can cause the couple more pain. Those statements feel insensitive and seem to diminish the pain of the family.
  3. Help them. Offer to cook dinner. If they have already collected baby items, gently ask them what their plans are for them, if they need help going through them, or offer to store the items for them. If they have older children, offer to babysit so that the parents can take time to talk and process their grief together.
  4. Grieve alongside them. If the family choose to name the baby call the child by its name. If there’s a funeral or memorial service–big or small–join in. This lets the family know you see their pain, you support them, and confirms in their hearts and minds that this baby was real.
  5. Understand that a new baby doesn’t replace the one they’ve lost. For us, Joey is a huge and precious blessing that we cherish all the more because we lost Addison. But in no way, shape, or form does Joey replace Addison. We still miss that child. We still grieve for that baby. Addison was a person as much as Joey is and neither can be replaced by another.
  6. Pray for them. Pray that God would heal their hearts and that they would see His character and perspective. Be gentle and patient here. Grieving is a process that ebbs and flows, sometimes it moves forward and then falls back. Don’t expect everything to be “back to normal” in a few weeks or month. Healing takes time.

I am so grateful for the outpouring of support I have received in sharing our miscarriage story. So many women have shared their experiences and how God has healed them.

I know there are so many ways to help and support those healing from a miscarriage. Let’s stop grieving from being an isolated experience. Help me help others know how to respond to a miscarriage or other loss, so…

If you have experienced a loss what is the best thing someone did or said as you grieved and healed?

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