Figuring how to comfort someone who has just suffered a pregnancy loss is not an easy or comfortable thing to do. You may have the best, supportive intentions – but I have to warn you that if any of the following things come out of your mouth, you may want to duck.
I know “lists of things you shouldn’t say” can be tedious – but in this case you may really not know that there is anything wrong with the following statements. All women are different, but as someone who has experienced several miscarriages I can attest to the fact that none of the following statements made me feel better, and some of them even made me feel worse.
1. At least you were only a few weeks along.
It’s a good idea to avoid minimizing someone’s pain when they are going through something traumatic – just as a rule.
2. You can always try again.
You have no idea how long someone may have been trying for the pregnancy they just lost, so this will come off as pretty callous.
3. Do you think X/Y/Z caused it?
Why? Why would you ever say this? There’s enough unnecessary guilt involved in the process – do not add to that.
4. Miscarriages are very common.
My ER nurse said this to me while I was bleeding all over a triage room. It did not make me feel better to be told that it was the 8th miscarriage she attended that day.
5. Are you going to get tested to make sure nothing is wrong with you?
You know, they have a test to make sure your uterus can actually successfully host a baby. Huh? Refrain from making medical statements to a grieving friend. Just be a friend – not a doctor.
6. At least you can get pregnant.
The ability to get pregnant is not very comforting to someone who just lost a pregnancy.
7. It happened for a reason.
No. Just, no. Don’t try to make sense out of something traumatic and say something like this. What reason? It’s not comforting to hear this – at all.
8. There was probably something wrong with it, so it’s better this way.
I heard this several times when I was going through repeated miscarriages and this sentiment didn’t comfort me – it sort of freaked me out.
9. It was God’s will.
Really? Well then God is a bitch. Don’t push religion on someone who is going through this. Even if they happen to be religious, it’s pretty presumptuous to claim you know what “God’s will” is – no?
10. Be thankful for the kids you have.
Again – minimizing. This implies she shouldn’t be sad because at least she has other kids. It’s a jerk thing to say to someone in pain.
You’re probably thinking – what can I say? As a general rule, when people are going through something terrible, it’s a good idea to say something like:
I’m really sorry this happened to you. I’m your friend. I’m here. Do you want to cry? Would you like some cake?
Basically – you don’t have to have any answers or try to explain or figure out why this happened. Just be a shoulder to cry on and let your friend know that she’s loved.