Wednesday, 27 March 2019

What not to say to someone who's had a miscarriage

It can be hard to know what to say to someone who has just had a miscarriage. It's a difficult time and it's not your fault if you don't know what it's like. So I'm making it a bit easier for you. Here's what not to say.

1. At least you already have a child.

Maybe this makes it easier in the long run, but in the immediate aftermath of a miscarriage it's not helpful, because it's not about having a child, it's about having this child, the one that's been lost.

2. Next time you'll have a healthy pregnancy.

A doctor said this to me, but I don't care how medically qualified you are - it's bullshit. Maybe I won't be able to get pregnant again. And if I do the chance of that one miscarrying are exactly the same as they were for this one. So maybe I'll have a healthy pregnancy, or maybe I won't. Either way, it's not a dead cert so don't treat me like an idiot and promise what you can't deliver (pun alert).

3. It was very early.

Obviously I know that, and maybe it makes it easier, maybe it doesn't, but you saying it is not helpful. Because from the second I became pregnant my body and my brain was preparing to have that baby, and now it's not going to happen, so I have to adjust to that. Just because it was early doesn't stop it being a big deal.

4. At least you can get pregnant. 

There's not a lot of point in getting pregnant if you don't end up with a baby. You get all the hassle - putting on weight, nausea, avoidance of lovely food and wine - without the lovely outcome.

5. It wasn't meant to be. 

If you'd spent hours cooking me a lovely dinner, and I came round to your house and we had a nice chat and a glass of wine and were both getting really hungry and you went to dish up the feast you'd been labouring at all day, only to find that the cat had just eaten the lot, and then I said to you 'It wasn't meant to be', what would you do? Obviously my maybe-baby wasn't viable - but you're not saying that because that sounds a bit clinical and insensitive (correct). Just don't assume I share your crackpot notions of fate.

6. You will have a healthy baby, I know you will. 

No you bloody don't. Shut up and see #2.

7. Are you going to try again? 

None of your business. I haven't got over this yet, so why are you asking me? Trying again means opening myself up to the possibility of another loss, so don't make me think about that right now.

Empty Swings by Viola Ng via Flickr Creative Commons

If you don't know what to say, that's OK. And it's OK to not really understand. I couldn't really understand, until it happened to me. And I didn't know what to say. "Sorry" is good. It doesn't need any more than that.

Saying nothing

Everyone's different, but to me, saying nothing is worse than saying the wrong thing. Saying nothing suggests that you don't care, while saying the wrong thing is annoying, but at least I know you mean well. 

So next time you hear someone has had a miscarriage, say you're sorry that their baby died, sorry they had to go through it, just sorry. Ask them if they're OK (but don't expect that they will be), ask them if there's anything you can do, and if you've had one yourself and want to share your experience, then do.

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