Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What NOT to say to someone who has experienced a Miscarriage

In this horrible experience, I have come across the most supportive and sincere people. They have truly helped me through this process more than they will ever imagine. But I have also come across insensitive, oblivious people who have no idea what to say to comfort a person who has experienced a miscarriage. It seriously feels like their common sense goes out the window. I can even say that a few of these women have had miscarriages themselves.

I understand that everyone is different, grieves different and is comforted different. However, after being a part of an AMAZING support group full of awesome ladies who have experienced the same thing I can honestly report the DOs and DON'TS of comforting a person who has experienced a miscarriage. I understand that most of these comments are merely the innocent attempt to provide comfort and hope. I guess this is my way of letting some of you know that it is not always the case. Especially if you hear the same comments over and over. After awhile it makes you want to scream. Here they are (and this is only to name a few).....

  • It is all a part of God's Plan..... Unless the person is extremely religious and you know that they believe this too, please keep these types of comments to yourself. No one wants to hear that this "plan" was what God meant for you.

  • It was not meant to be....... First thing that goes through my head when I hear this is WHY NOT? Especially if the women tried for their baby. We thought it was meant to be which is why we tried in the first place.

  • It was not the right time, When the time is right you will have a baby.... Kind of goes along with the above. WHY wasn't it the right time?? We tried for this baby, we KNOW it's the right time for us. If it wasn't we wouldn't have tried. All this comment does is make us feel that you are saying we are too young or not mature enough to handle a baby right now.

  • Everything happens for a reason.... Really, then give me a reason why this happened? The answer to that will probably follow with any of the insensitive comments below. How can you justify an answer to this?

  • At least you can get pregnant... That's great. But isn't the ultimate goal to BIRTH a baby? You can't exactly do this if you have miscarriage. The ability to get pregnant means nothing compared to being able to carry to term. Just ask the ladies who have had multiple miscarriages. Getting pregnant is a huge step in the process, not the ultimate goal.

  • At Least it happened early before you get attached... Ask yourself this, can you honestly say this comment is true? Can you honestly say that it should hurt LESS?

  • It wasn't a baby yet.... Tell that to its beating heart when it suddenly stops.

  • There was something wrong with the baby/It's better than having a retarded baby... For one, how do you know I wouldn't accept and love a "retarded" baby just the same? Ask parents of mentally challenged children if they would have rather had a miscarriage.

  • You will get pregnant again/You will have other children.... Yes, you are correct in this but how is this supposed to make me feel better about THIS baby? Would you say the same thing to a mother/father who just lost a young child months/years after its birth?

Now for the DON'Ts.....

  • Do not follow a miscarriage story with stories of your abortion(s)
  • Do not offer us one of your kids
  • Do not flood us with your own ultrasound pictures, new baby pictures, random cute children pictures unless we ASK
  • Do not tell stories of your friend who had multiple miscarriages before she had her 2 kids.....especially if it is our first miscarriage. The last thing we need our heads is the possibility of this happening again
  • Do not assume or ask us if the cause of the miscarriage was possibly due to something that was in our control. Examples: Was it because you flew on a plane? Was it because you ate sushi? Was it because you drank that one night before you knew you were pregnant?
  • Don't stare at us like we are from another planet
  • Don't uncomfortably shift in your chair or sit in silence.
  • Don't discuss our miscarriage with other people. If we want certain people knowing, we will tell them ourselves.

At last but NOT least.....

  • Do not assume that because it has been X amount of weeks/months/years that we should be over it and not allowed to be upset, scared or grieve. This is something that will live in our hearts forever even after we birth healthy children. It's hard to truly understand what we are going through unless it has happened to you. Even if it took one person a shorter amount of time than another to move on doesn't give you the right to be shocked, annoyed or unsupportive when we are still grieving.

The DOs:

  • Tell us you are sorry
  • Tell us you are here for us
  • Give us a hug
  • Offer your shoulder, your ear, your heart
  • Ask us if we are okay...even if it is weeks/months since.
  • Be our friend

I hope this has shed some light for anyone who is stuck not knowing how to react or what to say when wanting to offer support or comfort. It's amazing how great people are with handling this type of crisis or traumatic experience.

Thank you to all those who have been there for me. A special thanks to the ladies of the Nest Pregnancy Loss board. You have been the most amazing support system and I would not be where I am now if I didn't have all of your kind words of encouragement and support!


Katie said...

Thank you for this blog entry

Jennifer said...

I'm right there with you.

I wish I could send an anonymous letter to a whole list full of people with the don'ts.

Among other things, my cousin asked me if I was stressed and if I thought that was the reason I lost our babies. She also wanted to know all the gory details and what I thought the problem was.

Come to find out, she's pregnant. I think she was trying to figure out what I did "wrong" so that she can not do those things.

MidWestWife said...

Hi! Would you mind if I stole your do's and dont's for my blog, too... I'll give you credit! I would just love for some of my family to see them too! They are so perfect and right on target!

Anonymous said...

After I told my mom I had a miscarriage she told me she had one early on as well. I never knew that, it was great to bond with her about this. I really felt she knew what I was going through.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I told very few people about it. I think that's key. If you aren't SURE that they'll be supportive, then why tell them? When I told my mom, she told me she had one early in her life as well. I never knew that. It really made me feel like she knew what I was going through.

Melissa Cummings said...

I just want you to know that I, too, have written a post practically identical to this one! Most people that read it seemed to appreciate it, although there were a few who thought I was being a little stuck-up. Siiiigh.
Anyway, I am excited to see that I'm not the only one who has done this.
I, too, have a little one (a 16 month old boy now)who I would not have had, if my first baby had not miscarried.
And as you know, I would not trade him for the entire world.
Bless you.