“God knows best.” “Focus on the children you DO have.” “At least it was early on in the pregnancy.” “Maybe it was not meant to be.” “You need to let go, and get over it.” “You can always try again.” “Take it as a sign.”
These are some of the things that well intentioned friends and family members have said to individuals and/or couples after a miscarriage/pregnancy loss. Unfortunately, these comments do not always convey the support and love that is intended. In fact, this may lead them to believe that their feelings are not valid. That their pain is somehow not appropriate or that they are exaggerating.
When a loved one is in any kind of pain, particularly pain that we are unable to resolve, one can become uncomfortable with one’s own pain to see them hurt. This, in turn, may lead us to attempt comforting and supporting them in the best way we know how. However, many times we don’t know what the best thing to say or do is and sometimes we may add more pain in our attempts.
Unfortunately, miscarriage is not something that is commonly discussed. I have heard many stories of individuals who have experienced such a loss, in which they shared feeling that talking about their experience with friends and family was seen as taboo or a burden. I have also heard individuals experience a sense of guilt after a miscarriage, thinking that maybe they did something wrong or something to cause it even after being reassured by their doctors that nothing they did caused it.
Despite the fact that data exists showing that anywhere between 10-25% of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and that approximately three million cases of miscarriage/pregnancy loss a year are reported in the US alone, many are unaware of how many people that they may know who have experienced such loss due to how little this is talked about. It makes sense then, that one may not know the right thing to say or do when one becomes aware that someone we know and care about has just experienced a miscarriage.
In my experience as a therapist, I cannot say that I have found the perfect combination of words that one should say to someone after a miscarriage, nor do I believe that all individuals who have experienced a miscarriage are impacted in the same manner. I can however say that most individuals experiencing pain benefit from knowing they are cared for, that their feelings are valid even if we cannot truly relate or understand them, that they are entitled to their own grieving process, and most importantly that it is okay to seek additional support.
October 15th is the National Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day, and in the last couple of years I have noticed more and more people on social media sharing their experiences or simply posting supporting memes on their pages. It is my hope that this will aid in increasing awareness and eliminating the stigma attached to talking about miscarriage in order to allow those who experience it a smoother journey towards healing. Although October 15th has passed, it is never too late to extend a supportive hand and definitely never too late to seek professional support. No one should feel alone in their pain.
“I’m here for you!” “I love you!” I am sorry you are experiencing this.” “You are not alone.” “It’s okay to cry.” “It’s okay to seek help.”
Learn more about the author of this post: Miriam L Sullivan, LCPC