The Hard Stuff: Miscarriage

Words by Shelly Brown
Illustration by Jamison Harper

When tragedy strikes, it isn’t always easy to find the right words. What do you say when a loved one is going through something difficult? 

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Topic: Miscarriage

Here’s the thing to understand. A miscarriage for an expecting mother is the death of a child. Even if it’s an embryo, the mother feels the loss of life that is in her womb. This is not grieving a miscarriage; it is grieving a life. 

All miscarriages are different. This is very important to remember when finding the right words for someone who has experienced one. Even if you are a woman who has had one herself or a man who has gone through it with his wife, it’s important to allow space for the parents experiencing it now. Depending on the mother’s health and where she is in her pregnancy, the procedure she may have to go through might not be the same as yours or that of someone you know. Let’s leave the comparison game at the door.

What to say: 

“I’m here for anything. What can I take off your plate so you can rest?”

Sometimes it’s necessary to have alone time to grieve. This is a great opportunity to show up for a grieving couple by taking responsibilities off their plate.  

Action Steps:

• Gather a group of friends and schedule dinner deliveries.
• Schedule a housekeeper or gather friends to come clean the house and fold laundry while she rests.
• If there are kids at home, take them out for a playdate so that mom and dad can have alone time.
• Check in with dad. Don’t forget that this is a loss for him too and that he also might feel helpless with what mom has to go through. See how you can help him so that he is more able to help her.
• Send texts that don’t need a reply--something that reminds her she is loved but demands nothing.

“I just want you to know I’m thinking about you.”

“I’m so thankful to have you in my life.”

“You’re the strongest woman I know.”

What not to say:

 “You’ll get pregnant again!” 
Why? Because the mother is grieving the loss of this life, this individual, this child. 

“At least you have other kids.” 
Why? Because she knows that. We don’t want to make mom feel guilty as if she’s not grateful for her other kids.

“Everything happens for a reason.” 
Why? Can we just make a rule that we don’t say this for anything? While we know everything actually does happen for a reason, in the moment of tragedy let’s just table that one and show up for each other. 

“You’ll have a rainbow baby.”
Why? This term is for a baby delivered following a miscarriage, symbolizing a promise fulfilled. While intentions are good and come mostly from not knowing what else to say, it’s not allowing space for what’s happening now. 

What if you can’t say anything? SHOW UP AND BE HONEST. So many times when people go through tragedy, they find themselves isolated simply because friends and family don’t know what to do. Don’t forget that sometimes the best friends show up and say, “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here!”