A miscarriage is utterly tragic. Losing an unborn child in such a way is almost too awful to contemplate. But it is, unfortunately, not that uncommon. 1 in 8 women’s pregnancies will end in a miscarriage.
You don’t want to do the wrong thing and add to their grief by being insensitive. So knowing what you should and should not say to someone who has suffered a miscarriage is important.
We’ll go through the etiquette of miscarriage condolences and look at what you ought to do.
Then hopefully by the end of this you will feel comfortable in reaching out to anyone who has lost their unborn child in such terrible circumstances.
|Table of Contents|
|What You Should Do|
What NOT to Say
Words of Comfort Examples
- Should I Send a Card or Sympathy Flowers/Gift?
- How to Deal with Repeated Miscarriages
- How to Talk About your Own Pregnancy
What You Should Do
The main thing to do when someone you know experiences a miscarriage is to acknowledge it. That loss they’ve suffered is just the same as any other type of loss and should be viewed and tested the same way.
That means reaching out and offering your sympathy.
Listening is extremely important. Often those suffering a bereavement need someone who can listen to them. This is no different with a miscarriage.
The grieving mother may want to express how she’s feeling or let some of the built up anger and hurt out. So having a friend who can be there to listen, or even just give a hug is sometimes the most important thing you can do.
Offer to Help
The offer of help is overlooked by many when it comes to helping those suffering a loss. Grief can be overwhelming and leave you unable to function as you would normally. In those circumstances it can be such a relief to have someone offering to take on some your chores or tasks.
So if you are trying to help someone who is dealing with a miscarriage think about offering to do some of the everyday things they might be struggling with. Be it grocery shopping, picking up or taking the kids to school etc. It’s those little things that can make a world of difference.
Stay in Touch
Grief and loss are commonly associated with isolation – people suffering want to be alone. But that isn’t always the case.
It differs from person to person on how they react to their loss. Some will prefer solitude whereas others will need people around them for support.
If you aren’t sure whether after a pregnancy loss your friend/family member would like to be left alone there is no harm in reaching out. A short text or email to let them know you’re thinking of them will be enough.
If they get back to you then you can either ask them directly if they’d like more support or someone to talk to. Or you can just steer the conversation that way and see how they seem to react.
Remember Grief Lasts
The effects of grief last long after the actual loss. So whilst someone may look physically fine and have returned to their normal life, work etc. that doesn’t mean the pain or grief of the pregnancy loss are gone too.
Keep that in mind. You may think everything has gone back to normal in the weeks after their miscarriage but they will still be grieving and mourning. Whilst they won’t want to be treated any differently it doesn’t hurt to be ware of their pain and do all you can to minimise or avoid exacerbating it.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask
No one expects you to understand the complexities of a miscarriage, especially if you haven’t experienced it directly yourself. The thing to not shy away from is asking.
Ask them if they need your help, or want to talk. Don’t be afraid of upsetting them.
If you use some common sense and avoid saying any of the things listed further down in the ‘What NOT to Say’ section you will be fine. And it will make it easier for them to be honest about what they need or want from people.
What NOT to Say
There are many phrases or topics you should avoid talking about to someone who has had a miscarriage.
It’s for the Best
This is a terrible thing to say and makes absolutely no sense. How could it be for the best? They’ve lost their child.
Do not say this. Ever.
Everything Happens for a Reason
No it doesn’t. Losing your child in this way has no good reason. The parents will not be thinking “Oh well, there must be some reason that will eventually make itself clear as to why we had to lose our child and suffer with this horrendous grief and pain. So it’s all ok”.
It’s a horrible thing to say to someone and should be avoided at all costs.
You Can Always Have Another
Whilst this may be technically true, it completely misses the point. The couple don’t want to have another, they want the this child. The one that they had planned and prepared for, and were no doubt excited beyond measure to meet and love.
Saying this doesn’t help at all and will only upset or anger the bereaved parents.
At Least You Know You Can Get Pregnant
Getting pregnant and actually having a child are two separate things. Being able to conceive a child but never give birth is utterly heartbreaking. So saying anything like this would not offer any comfort and more likely cause extra grief and hurt.
Have You Considered Not Having Children?
There could barely be anything more offensive than saying this. Whatever you’re thinking of saying, don’t let it be this.
If you’re still unsure of what to say then have a look at the example words of comfort below.
Words of Comfort for a Miscarriage
If you want some specific examples of what you can say to someone who has suffered a miscarriage then try these sample messages.
For a Friend
- I’m so terribly sorry for your loss
- You are in my thoughts and my prayers
- If there is anything I can do then don’t hesitate to ask
- I’m here for you, whatever you need
- I know my words mean so little but I am so sorry
For a Family Member
Be it a daughter, niece or aunt who has had a miscarriage these messages of sympathy will show them you care.
- You aren’t alone. We are here for you
- We are all thinking of you
- I’m sending my love and reminding you just how much you mean to me
- If you ever want to or feel ready to discuss what happened I would be happy to hear
- You are incredible and strong but take as long as you want to fully recover
For a Coworker
Finding the right words to say to a coworker after a loss is always hard. Hopefully these examples will help.
- I’m very sorry for your loss. If you would like anyone to talk to or listen then I’m here
- Take all the time you need and don’t rush back
- Our most sincere condolences for your loss
- We are all sending you our love and support
- I know we weren’t very close but I would be more than happy to be someone you could talk to if you ever wanted
Should I Send a Card or Sympathy Flowers/Gift?
You definitely don’t have to. There should be no pressure to and there won’t be any expectation of receiving one. However, if you would like to and feel it’s an appropriate gesture then by all means do.
A card or some flowers acknowledging their loss are likely to be warmly received by the person or couple going through a miscarriage.
How to Deal with Repeated Miscarriages
Having one miscarriage is bad enough but some are unfortunate to have more. If there the case you may be wondering how to approach a second, third or further losses.
Don’t be fooled into thinking each time the impact and devastation of the loss will become smaller. It will hurt just as much, if not more so.
But you should still make an effort to acknowledge each of those losses. Even if you feel like you’re repeating yourself,
How to Talk About your Own Pregnancy
This can be tricky. If you’re having a baby or announcing a pregnancy you may be worried about upsetting friends or family who have had miscarriages.
The best way to deal with this is straightforward honesty. Don’t try to hide it. Realistically they’re going to find out at some point, so it’s better to face it head on and deal with it at the time.
Not to mention that they will probably feel more hurt finding out from someone else and feeling like you were being dishonest.
The Miscarriage Association offers support and information to anyone affected by the loss of a baby in pregnancy, to raise awareness and to promote good practice in medical care.
Tommy’s offers a wide range of resources, tools and services for families who experience baby loss or premature birth.
Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support has a collection of support resources for pregnancy loss as well as a list of US regional support groups.
Losing a child through miscarriage is truly heartbreaking. As mentioned before though, it is all too frequent.
Hopefully some of the information and help provided here will have given you the confidence to reach out to someone you one that has miscarried.
Regardless of whether you’re worried about doing or saying the wrong thing try to make the effort. That alone, even if what you say is clumsy or a cliche, will be so appreciated.