What Do You Say When a Loved One Has a Miscarriage?

If your friend or loved one has had a miscarriage, it can be difficult to know what to say. All of my friends and family, I am grateful to say, were very loving and tactful. I have heard from more than one woman, however, that some of the standard responses to miscarriage can cause more pain than comfort. Of course everyone wants to say something comforting– here are some do’s and don’ts when addressing miscarriage that will ensure that your words are received as loving support. throughout this post I will refer to mothers, but please apply all advise to fathers as well– they are also grieving and often overlooked.

Inappropriate Responses

1. You can have another baby.

Hopefully parents who have experienced miscarriage can have more children if that is what they want. However, one child does not replace another. Any child born after having had a miscarriage does not negate the pain of losing the previous child. Assuring a grieving mother that she can still have children may seem like a comforting thing to say, but the effect is often the opposite of that which is intended.

2. There was probably something wrong with the baby.

Who knows why miscarriage happens? Perhaps the child had developmental problems, perhaps not. Either way, this is equivalent to telling the parent “it is good that your baby died”. Whether or not this is what you mean, it is not a tactful thing to say to someone who has lost a baby.

3. At least you didn’t have time to get attached.

How long does a mother have to carry a child before becoming “attached”? Even if it does not seem to you that the mother was pregnant long enough to warrant grief at the loss of the child, don’t tell her this.

Appropriate Responses

1. I’m sorry to hear about your loss.

This does not attempt to explain to the mother why the miscarriage happened or tell her how she should respond. It is a simple offering of sympathy and will not cause offense.

2. Do you need anything?

The mother may or may not need help with anything. This offer shows your love and support without placing any demands on the mother.

3. I’m here if you need to talk.

Some moms find comfort in talking about their miscarriages, and some would rather not discuss the subject. This offer is supportive without being intrusive.

The one guideline that will ensure that any comments addressed to parents who have experienced miscarriage are appropriate is this:

Would this be appropriate to say to someone who has lost an older child?

The first three responses listed in this article would be shockingly rude when said to the parents of an older child. The second three would be appropriate. Regardless of your personal opinions regarding miscarriage, for the sake of the feelings of your loved one and the tranquility of the relationship going forward, weigh anything you are thinking of saying against the question of whether or not it would be a correct thing to say to parents who have lost an older child. In this way you will be assured of not causing further pain.

I have only addressed a few hurtful and helpful things to say in this post. If anyone has something to add, please feel free to do so in the comments section.


Changes Small and Large

The Experimental Mom blog has a new look. It has changed because Experimental Mom herself has changed. Baby D’s younger sibling died in utero and was miscarried on January 4th. For thirteen weeks this child grew and developed in my womb. The last developmental update I read while the child lived said that the child’s unique fingerprints had developed. We were looking forward to finding out the sex of the child in February and making the happy announcement then. Instead, as has happened in the lives of so many parents, life irrevocably changed in a few agonizing hours. Those who know me will see a cheerful person, and perhaps think to themselves “she is handling everything quite well”. But like so many others who have experienced miscarriage, I grieve quietly.

We experienced a truly wonderful show of support from family and friends. We buried the baby on Saturday January 7th. Thankfully more and more parents now have this option. The cemetery gave us a plot, the funeral home handled everything gratis, and almost two dozen people attended the funeral. I realize that this is not the norm, and am more grateful than I can express. Because we did not have the opportunity to find out whether our child was a boy or a girl, we could not use one of the names we had picked out. So we chose Caritas, because love surrounded the child for the short time we were together.

I invite anyone who has been through a miscarriage to share their experiences here, without fear of judgment or downplay of the real, permanent impact it has on parents who will never hold their babies.

In Memoriam Baby Caritas. Always Loved.