Many individuals are unsure how to respond when a friend, relative, or coworker experiences a miscarriage. In this article, we’ll discuss miscarriage-related things not to say, along with recommendations from a psychologist and therapist on how to offer support.
Almost one-fifth of women of childbearing age will experience a miscarriage at some point, making the problem very common. It is “one of the most common forms of trauma that many women experience, but it is frequently unrecognized and undocumented,” according to therapist and certified clinical social worker Cecille Maria Ahrens.
Because that miscarriage is rarely mentioned, many individuals are unsure of how to react when someone they know experiences a pregnancy loss. Naturally, what you say will depend on your relationship with the individual, but there are a few broad rules to bear in mind. Following are tips for supporting and communicating with a friend, family member, or coworker who has experienced a miscarriage.
8 Things to Say When a Pregnancy Loss Occurs
1. Keep it generalized.
Less is more, according to Ahrens, particularly if you do not know the individual well. She proposes supporting the individual’s experience by expressing regret, for example. “If you don’t know what to say, I often urge folks to begin with that,” she explains. You can say, “I’m not sure what to say or how to help, but I’m here for you.”
2. Listen and follow their direction.
Individuals frequently avoid discussing miscarriage to minimize discomfort. According to Tarra Bates-Duford, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist, this error invalidates the person’s experience. “The best course of action is to listen. Dr. Bates-Duford advises, “Listen, don’t offer advice, but really listen and affirm their feelings.” And if the parents had already given the baby a name prior to the loss, it is imperative to use that name.
3. Check in even if they are fine.
Frequently, miscarriages occur before people announce their pregnancy. If a buddy appears to be struggling, it is often acceptable to point this out and provide general support. “Several of my patients miscarried just as they were about to announce their pregnancy. “They suffer in quiet so frequently,” adds Dr. Bates-Duford. Perhaps this is the encouragement this individual needs.
Similarly, miscarriages can trigger periods of postpartum depression. Ahrens suggests that if you know a close friend or family member has experienced a miscarriage, you can provide observations if their behavior or mood has changed drastically and advise them to get professional assistance.
4. Talk about the rest of the family.
Don’t just inquire about the pregnancy’s carrier’s status. Also, spouses and partners are mourning the loss. Dr. Bates-Duford explains, “You do not want to indicate that this child was less significant to the other parent.” You should recognize that this was a loss for all parties.
5. Consider the context.
Pregnancy loss is traumatic enough on its own, but some conditions can exacerbate the suffering. Ahrens explains that couples who conceived through IVF or were expecting a child through a surrogate have greater sentiments of “powerlessness and helplessness.” They may have to go through a costly and arduous process to conceive, emphasizing the magnitude of the loss and the difficulty of trying again if they so desire. Repeated miscarriages take a special emotional toll and can influence what to say to someone who has experienced a miscarriage. Obviously, all losses may be tough, and because you never know how someone feels about a loss, it’s always best to let them express their emotions rather than assume.
6. Request permission to help.
Depending on the individual, some practical matters, such as dealing with a nursery or baby belongings, may need to be addressed after a loss. According to Dr. Bates-Duford, offering to return baby presents or pack away stuff is a thoughtful gesture but should only be done with consent. Some won’t be able to face a baby’s room they’ve prepared, while others may want to sit with it and take it down when they’re ready. Dr. Bates-Duford advises the miscarried woman, “Do not try to mend it.” Also, if you have purchased a baby present that you have not yet given, return it discreetly. Do not impose this on the mourning individual.
7. Provide specific assistance.
On non-baby-related matters, it may be useful to simply say how you will assist rather than asking how you can assist. Texting a buddy that you will be dropping off supper at their door tomorrow night or that you have arranged for coffee delivery, rather than asking if you can help, is a gesture that relieves their load.
8. Be cautious in future pregnancies.
Many women who have experienced a miscarriage become pregnant again. Nevertheless, losses can create scars that others cannot comprehend. Fearing that the worst may occur again, the expectant woman may not choose to host a baby shower or otherwise prepare for the birth of the child.
Dr. Bates-Duford explains that in order to support the feelings of the pregnant lady, family, and friends may need to modify their own expectations for some traditions that they themselves may have been enthusiastic about. She said, if you want to buy something for the baby, don’t mention it. You can always give it at a later time when the occasion arises.
What Not to Say Following a Missed Pregnancy
If you know someone who has experienced a miscarriage and you want to give words of comfort, you should avoid speaking the following statements.
1. It was not yet a real baby.
For many, connection with their unborn child begins the moment they discover they are pregnant. Regardless of how far along the pregnancy had proceeded, the baby was real, the family had developed plans and goals, and life had already altered.
2. “At least you weren’t further along.”
It is true that the further along you are in your pregnancy, the higher the risk of problems following a miscarriage; nonetheless, this term attempts to minimize sorrow and reinforces the notion that a baby lost in the first trimester does not warrant grief. The physical and mental suffering is extremely palpable even in the early stages.
3. “It was never meant to be.”
After the pain of a loss, this phrase might exacerbate the impression that you did something wrong or that the speaker does not believe you are suited to be a parent.
4. “At least you can become pregnant.”
Several individuals struggle to conceive, and this fight is accompanied by anguish and sorrow. But, becoming pregnant is simply the first step in becoming a parent, and those who have miscarried are also deprived of this experience. In addition, there is no reason to compare the challenges of the two individuals.
5. “Miscarriage is a common thing.”
For many people seeking support after a loss, this sentence is painful. Even while miscarriage is common, it does not invalidate the need for support, compassion, and healthy grief accompanying loss.
6. Perhaps you should have or shouldn’t have…”
It is devastating to a parent’s heart to learn that their child has died, and they may automatically blame themselves. Hearing this from a putative supporter is destructive to emotional and mental health.
7. After a few days, you’ll be fine.
Some individuals experience a brief time of grief following a miscarriage. For others, though, sadness can persist and be exacerbated by a number of different causes. The statement “you’ll be OK in a few days” is extremely misleading and dismissive.
8. Be thankful for what you have.
When someone is in agony, it is not really helpful to encourage them to “suck it up.” This remark, which is frequently given to those who already have children and are suffering a miscarriage, expresses the same feeling, albeit in a somewhat different manner. Even if a couple already has many children, it is common to grieve after the loss of a pregnancy.
Pregnancy Loss at Work
As a last point, if you face a miscarriage in the workplace, keep in mind that a miscarriage is a medical occurrence with physical and emotional consequences that necessitate time away from work. In certain instances, the disclosure of a miscarriage will be the first time an employee discloses her pregnancy to her employer.
Employers and human resource specialists should limit the amount of information they request, particularly if it is submitted on short-term disability forms or other requests for leave. Dr. Bates-Duford argues that a preferable way is to offer assistance with the necessary documentation and get the process moving.
Ahrens suggests that a broad “I’m so sorry for your loss” is more appropriate for other coworkers. “You should not exceed your boundaries. You are neither friends nor family.”
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