Three things you should NEVER say to a woman who has miscarried
Seven-Year Anniversary of the Worst Day: Some thoughts on Miscarriage
Every time we move to a new state I have to redo all of our medical documentation. This inevitably means I have to answer the following questions: How many pregnancies have you had? Five. How many resulted in a live birth? Four.
This coming weekend marks seven years since our miscarriage but that answer—thatfour—still cuts me to the heart. Because one of us is missing. We named the little baby I carried for 10 weeks. She (I just know in my heart it was a little girl) would have been Ella Marie. Pretty, huh?
When I think back on that pregnancy and the painful way that it ended, I’m often reminded of the kindness of friends and family. Those who came rushing to our home the moment we called with the sad news. Those who arrived after church that morning bearing the sheet music to an uplifting song the choir had sung that day (that I still have, sorry JB!). Those who waited in the hospital with us until the moment they wheeled me down for the D & C.
So many good things all wrapped around something so horrible as the loss of a pregnancy; the end of a little life that hadn’t gotten a chance to begin.
But in and amongst those good moments there were also some really negative things that were often unintentionally wrought upon our hearts by some very well intentioned people. I thought it might make sense to share those things here as a reminder for me too.
That’s the funny thing about this list—that someone who has experienced a miscarriage might need to remember it too. Maybe it’s because these sayings are the first that come to mind when we’re talking to someone dealing with loss, and I’m no different. Here are the three statements I need to squelch before they pass my lips the next time I’m encouraging a friend going through miscarriage.
1) “God has a bigger plan.” Here's what played in my head every time I heard that statement: I love God and I know He has a plan, but at this particular moment, I’m not really liking that plan. That plan, quite frankly, stinks right now. I don’t want or need you to remind me of it. Harsh, but true in those early moments of despair.
2) “You’ll get pregnant again.” Yes, Lord willing, we will, but that won’t change the fact that this baby is gone. This baby that we loved and were so excited about will never be born or held here on Earth. I can’t even think about future pregnancies at this moment. And I think now even after having kids, the knowledge of what we missed out on sometimes makes the loss even worse.
3) “Let me know if you need anything.” I would, but I can’t think straight right now much less tell you what I need. I actually had a dear friend come into my home to share condolences, but before she left she asked for a casserole dish. When I saw her next it was with prepared meal in hand, and in my own dish so I wouldn’t have to remember to get it back to her later. So thoughtful on her part, and it required zero effort on my part to convey our needs.
But I won’t leave you without a few things to say or do instead of those listed above. Here are some other gestures that I did find comforting:
1) “I’m sorry, I’ve had a miscarriage too and I know it’s hard.” It was oddly comforting for me to know that so many women, especially the more experienced ladies in my church, had been through the same thing. It made me feel better to know I wasn’t alone in that experience and reinforced the commonality of miscarriage.
And because it was our first pregnancy, the fear of not being able to conceive and have a healthy baby was very real for us. Just knowing other women (many other women) had dealt with the same loss and were later blessed with babies made me feel better.
It didn’t, however, stop me from stalking my husband for months in an effort to get pregnant. After five LONG months of that, we took a break from constantly trying, and lo and behold, in month six we became pregnant with our first child, Mr. A. Life after miscarriage is a very beautiful thing.
2) This gesture is hard for me, because I’m a talker, but: Don’t say anything. Just give a hug (I’m a hugger too. A hugger who talks.), or a pat on the shoulder if you don’t know the person well. I distinctly remember a friend doing just that and the relief of not having to respond to any ill-spoken words or questions resulted in a good, healthy, cleansing sob on my part.
3) Lastly, just tell the person “I’m sorry and I love you” or “I’ll be praying for your family.” Simple words that mean so much when your heart is aching and your dreams have been crushed.
Everyone is different, and everyone deals with loss in different ways. What about you? If you’ve dealt with loss (miscarriage, family members, friends, etc.), what were some words or actions from others that encouraged you? Or is there something else we can add to the “do not say” list?
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