Miscarriage – How To Be Sympathetic Without Being Tactless
Losing a child is probably the most traumatic experience a woman can go through. The possibility of a miscarriage touching our lives is very likely. In fact, 15-20 percent of all pregnancies end up in miscarriage.
As much as you want to, it is very difficult to express your sympathies to a friend or a family member when they suffer this kind of loss, especially if you have not experienced this yourself. Just as if her child were born and died later, the woman experiences grief over the loss of the life of her child, fear of what will happen in the future, and anger for the unfairness of the situation.
However uncomfortable or difficult it may be for you, if you know someone who has suffered from a miscarriage, you should know how best to express your sympathies. But whatever you do, do not ignore the woman’s suffering. Acknowledge but with care.
There are things that you must be careful not to say:
It was meant to happen.
Medically speaking, this may make sense. You can even say that it was God’s will. But this will only aggravate the woman’s sense of helplessness and make her loss seem less important. Tell her that there’s nothing she could have done to prevent it from happening will give her no comfort at all.
You can try again.
Losing a child, even one who hasn’t even been born yet, is still a loss of life. And to a mother, one child’s life is irreplaceable. Yes she can always have another child, but hearing or knowing this does not help alleviate her sense of grief for the child she already lost. To the mother, the child was already a real part of her and close to her heart.
Don’t work so hard.
There are always a lot of factors that contribute to a miscarriage. Telling a grieving mother not to work so hard may come across as an accusation that the miscarriage happened because she did not take it easy and had no concern for the baby growing inside her. Advising her not to get too stressed out may be misinterpreted as an assignment of blame for not taking care of herself enough.
Take this or that.
There are a lot of “recommended” supplements and foods that a pregnant woman could take to prevent a miscarriage. Most of these have no medical basis at all, and some may even be unsafe. Unless you are the woman’s doctor, giving unsolicited medical tips, no matter how good your intentions may be, may not be welcome.
It also happened to someone else I know.
Relating another person’s similar experience will not make a grieving mother feel better. The fact that miscarriages also happen to other people does not make her loss less painful. Each experience is unique to the person who experiences it. Comparing her grief to another person’s is not a good way to show your moral support.
I understand your pain.
Unless you have also lost a child to a miscarriage, you cannot presume to know or understand the pain she is going through. Just let her know that you are there to support her. That should be enough. Do not pretend to know how it feels like to be in her shoes. Even if you have some idea, her pain is her own, and sharing it is not even an option.
When someone close to you has suffered a terrible loss from a miscarriage, it is often very difficult to find the right words to say to offer comfort. Just always remember to be sensitive to her pain and grief. If you are not comfortable saying anything or have no idea at all how to express your support, it is always best to opt for silence.
As long as you let her know that you are there for her, to hold her hand or to give her a hug, then talking may not even be necessary. And when she is ready to talk, listen. And as long as you remember what not to say, your presence will be greatly appreciated.