Between the birth of my two children I suffered back-to-back miscarriages. It’s tough. If you’ve been through it yourself, you know what I mean. And it doesn’t help that the very people trying to show support, often end up making you feel worse. At least that was the case for me, and many others I’ve spoken with. Here are three things I often heard that you should never say to a woman who’s had a miscarriage:
1. “Just try again”
Right, ’cause losing a baby is just like Roll up the rim to win. If this one doesn’t work out, just buy another cup of coffee! If you’re in your late 30s/early 40s (as I was), this comment is particularly upsetting, since it was probably pretty difficult to get pregnant in the first place.
2. “Well, count yourself lucky you at least have one”
I’m not an idiot, I knew I was lucky to have had a successful pregnancy—especially at age 37—but right in the midst of or immediately following the subsequent miscarriages, “lucky” is not at all how I felt! And having an existing child does not take away the pain of a subsequent loss. Would you go up to a friend at their mother’s funeral and say “at least you still have your dad”? Probably not! Keep in mind that a woman who loses a wanted pregnancy, already envisioned that baby as a part of her life. She knew her due date, she dreamt of holding him/her, she envisioned the older child meeting their little brother/sister for the first time. And she hopes to never have to answer the question “why don’t I have any brothers or sisters?” For me, a “complete” family always meant at least two kids. I really resented the thought that somehow I wasn’t as entitled to grieve as much as someone who hadn’t yet experienced parenthood.
3. “There was probably something wrong with the baby anyway, so this is for the best”
This is the most hurtful thing anyone can say to a grieving woman! Yet I heard it from a few friends, and worst of all from the nurse squeezing my hand as I was going under general anaesthetic for a D&C after my first miscarriage. Right, losing a baby I soooo desperately wanted, and having complications from the miscarriage requiring emergency surgery is “for the best”! Really it was a toss-up between this and a trip to Bali, so I guess the miscarriage won! How exactly is this type of comment supposed to make someone feel better? It doesn’t! It’s hugely insensitive, even if the people saying it are well-intentioned.
So if you know someone who has suffered a miscarriage, please give them a hug. Tell them you’re so sorry for their loss, and that it’s healthy for them to grieve. Tell them you wish this had never happened to them. Show them you care. But please, never say these three things.
Tammy Scott lives in Chelsea, Quebec with her husband and two kids.
Originally published in 2014.