Last Updated on November 10, 2023 by Lori Pace
It can be hard, or even impossible, to communicate with someone who has experienced a loss of pregnancy. There is no one right or wrong way to react when a pregnancy ends without a live birth. A former pregnant woman may experience multiple seemingly conflicting emotions at once. However, in many cases grief is one of these emotions. It’s important to remember that everyone grieves differently and on their own time. For some, the trauma of losing a baby can lead to PTSD or emotional meltdown. We are now back at the beginning: how to talk to someone who has had a miscarriage and what to say to them.
Although it may seem counterintuitive at first, it might be useful to review some things you should not say to someone following a miscarriage. Once you have a better idea of what to avoid, it is easier to formulate a response. These expert insights and suggestions will help you navigate this complex topic.
How to Comfort Someone After Miscarriage
Recognize What They’re Going Through
While it might seem natural to want to avoid losing a pregnancy, acknowledging the fact can help you be more supportive than you think. Express empathy to someone who has experienced a miscarriage by validating their experience. It’s best to acknowledge their pain, shock, numbness or disappointment and speak it out loud. Use direct, but compassionate statements such as “I’m sorry that this happened to you” and “This is so terrible.”
These statements may seem depressing and even despairing. But you can use words such as these to meet your friend or loved one where they are at the moment. Right now they’re experiencing emotional pain. It’s better to acknowledge their grief and let it be. A miscarriage can cause a person’s world to crumble.
Give Them Space To Be Afraid And Confused
It is natural to wish to reassure someone in distress that they can handle any situation. It’s natural to want to reassure someone who is struggling that they are strong enough to handle whatever comes their way. Your friend, relative or loved one who has miscarried may feel scared, and that’s okay. Miscarriage happens in a few cases. Saying something like, “It’s OK to feel afraid/numb/shocked/stunned right now.” can be a powerful companion for someone who has had a miscarriage.
Realize That The Loss Likely Affected Others
It can be difficult to know what to tell someone who has had a miscarriage. It’s no surprise that many people get tunnel vision and forget that there might be other victims. If a partner is involved, be sure to check on them. Miscarriage partners are often ignored in favor of helping the miscarried person. They may be dealing with the loss of their baby and the hopes and dreams they had while pregnant. Empathy can be expressed by saying “I’m sorry”. Saying this can help you to have a conversation with someone and show compassion when it’s often lacking.
Understand That Every Day Is Different When You’re Grieving
It’s important to remember when we have these conversations that grief doesn’t follow a linear path. Be mindful of where they might be today, ask them, “How are you doing today?” Today is the operative term. This question is different from the question, “How are you doing?” which can be a more general question.
Be careful with what to say after they had miscarriage, and be content with no conversation or reply
Some people find it easy to share their experiences, while others need to heal first before they can talk about it. It is important not to place the victim of miscarriage in a situation where they feel uncomfortable having a conversation.
Don’t force a conversation. Accept that the other person may have just had an out-of-body experience. Talking is more effective than listening. Be there for them, but don’t push. Instead, look around and see if they are in need of you or if they just need some space (and/or time) to regroup. Keep in touch with them, but don’t expect anything in return.
Offer actionable help — if they’re ready for it.
Let the miscarriage victim know that you are open to helping them and will do your best to help. It may be beneficial to offer support options if the person is open and willing to receive information. This could include whether the person has access through their company’s Employee Assistance Program or therapists under their health plan.
Accept that there genuinely isn’t a “right” response.
We are complex as human beings and have to deal with all the challenges that life brings, sometimes with no predictability. There are many different circumstances that can affect each individual and the reactions they have to them. Sometimes, even if you’ve had a miscarriage yourself, it can feel difficult to respond in the right way. We all react differently to different situations, times, and circumstances. This is how we learn as we go through grief. One’s immediate reactions to a miscarriage might be different from another’s later on. There may be a difference in the steps taken by those who have had a miscarriage.
It’s helpful not to assume and to communicate that you are there for them to listen and hold space. This means that you should refrain from giving your interpretations, explanations, or opinions about why something happened or what someone should do or feel. It is enough to invite them into the moment.
What to NOT Say to Someone Who Had a Miscarriage
While there are many things you can say to someone who has experienced a miscarriage, there are some words that are more comforting than others. Here are some examples of words to avoid:
- “Don’t worry; you’re young. You can always have another child.”
- “It was probably the best.”
- “It’s okay because you at least have other children.”