How to Help Someone You Love Cope with Miscarriage
Miscarriage is incredibly common, but rarely talked about. I’m sharing some ways miscarriage makes you feel and how you can help a friend or loved one who is struggling.
I turned 31 last Saturday, “young” in the infertility world. I can’t tell you how many times over the past nearly 2 years I’ve heard “Don’t worry, you’re young”. Always well intentioned, but rarely helpful because this was not our plan.
No one plans for miscarriage but, according to statistics, it is the unfortunate outcome of 25% of pregnancies. That’s 1 in 4 pregnancies, which equates to an unimaginable amount of hurt and loss thrust upon unsuspecting victims every single day. People all around us are struggling with pregnancy loss and infertility, yet it’s rarely talked about, leaving many to suffer in silence.
We have had 3 losses, all of them *luckily* early on, within the first 7 weeks. We have been “diagnosed” with unexplained infertility, a frustratingly empty explanation for the biggest problem we’ve faced thus far in life.
I’ve listened to countless hours of infertility podcasts and have scoured the internet reading and listening to all of the stories and advice I can get my hands on. After hearing so many couple’s stories and all of the heartache they have endured, I sometimes feel I haven’t earned the right to comment on loss and infertility, that maybe I haven’t suffered enough to be a member of this “club” (the one that no one ever wanted membership to).
Because of this, and my natural tendency to be introverted, I’ve remained quiet. But staying quiet feels selfish, I have been so comforted by those who have had the strength to open up and made me feel less alone. I feel I owe it to everyone else out there struggling now and in the future to share that we are right there with you, struggling too.
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. If you have not personally dealt with miscarriage it can be hard to understand. But given the statistics, it is very likely someone you care about has or will suffer pregnancy loss. It can be difficult to know what to say. Below I am sharing some insight into how miscarriage makes you feel and some guidance on what to and what not to say to someone going through it.
What not to say to someone experiencing a miscarriage:
Miscarriage hurts no matter when it happens. As soon as you get a positive pregnancy test you can’t help but calculate the due date and dream about what life will soon be like with your little one. Your baby may have only been the size of an apple seed, but they had already become your whole world.
Don’t Say: “at least it was early” – this diminishes the fact that they were pregnant and that they lost a baby.
Instead Say: “I’m so sorry for your loss, I can’t imagine what it would feel like to lose a baby.”
No matter how many people tell you the miscarriage wasn’t your fault you blame yourself, you think I… “shouldn’t have eaten that”, “shouldn’t have worked out”, “should have slept more”, “should have stressed less”…
Don’t Say: “Just relax” – this is the number one no-no when you are talking to a woman dealing with miscarriage and/or infertility. If only it were that easy…
Instead Say: “It’s not fair and it totally sucks, but it wasn’t your fault.”
Once you have experienced a miscarriage, the moment of pure joy you should feel when you finally see 2 pink lines appear again on a pregnancy test is taken away. A moment in which you should be overflowing with happiness is clouded by the fear of another loss.
Don’t Say: “hopefully this one will stick” – this diminishes past losses and highlights what she is already feeling. Treat her as you would any other pregnant woman announcing her pregnancy.
Instead Say: “congratulations, I am so excited for you” – this leaves it open for her to bring up her fears instead of you announcing what she already feels.
Miscarriage comes with a lot of shame. Shame that your body is failing you by not being able to do what it is biologically designed to do. Because of this shame, a lot of women keep their losses to themselves instead of opening up.
Don’t Say: “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me” – this makes them feel more shame. Everyone deals with miscarriage in their own way and they will open up if/when they want to.
Instead Say: “I’m so glad you’re telling me, I’m sorry for all you have gone through.”
One last good rule of thumb that is easy to remember is avoid starting your responses with “at least” or “just”. Women who are experiencing miscarriage don’t want you to try to fix it, believe me, they have the worrying about “fixing” it covered. They just want someone to feel sad with, someone to acknowledge how much it sucks and someone to be open and available to letting them say whatever they need to without judgement.
*disclaimer: I am not a doctor or trained therapist, these are just my thoughts, feelings and opinions.*
Creating and sharing my recipes with you here each week is my happy place. I am sorry if you are a friend or family member in my “real” life finding out about our loss and infertility journey here. I struggle to talk about it and find writing it down a much easier way to share.
I don’t know when or if I will share again on this topic. I wasn’t planning on sharing anything about our struggle before we had a pregnancy to announce. But today it felt like the right thing to do. If you feel moved to do so, join the “Wave Of Light” by lighting a candle tonight, October 15th, at 7pm to honor all the babies gone too soon and help break the silence around pregnancy and infant loss.