When someone experiences the loss of an unborn child, often the loss feels invisible to others or the pain the mother-to-be feels is disregarded as less than other types of tragic loss, simply because the child was not yet born and known to others. But the grief of a life stolen, remains. The joys never lived, the shared experiences with that child that never can happen, are also losses and must be allowed to be grieved.
What to Say & Do When A Friend Miscarries
If you have a friend who is dealing with the bereavement of an unborn child, here are some words to share in-person or on the phone. Sharing in their grief helps create a sense of community and will help your friend and their family feel less isolated.
- “I am here for you, no matter what.”
- “I know you are hurting.”
- “I’m sorry that I can’t take this pain away.”
- “Let me take care of this errand for you.”
- “I love you.”
- “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
- “I’m sorry to hear the news.”
- “I’m thinking of you.”
- “I’m not sure what to say or do but I am here and I am so sorry.”
- “Please let me know if there’s anything you need.”
- “Remember you are not alone.”
Sharing your sincere sentiments can go a long way in helping a mother-to-be cope with their grief. Nothing takes away their immediate pain and suffering, but they can find some measure of comfort in your expressed condolences.
How to React When a Friend Suffers a Miscarriage
- Acknowledge their loss. Let them know you see their pain and are there for them.
- Listen and let them grieve.
- Encourage them to talk to other women who’ve had a miscarriage. This is a sensitive topic, so tread lightly.
- Offer practical support. Does she need groceries, babysitting, a meal, a good cry? Ask her what she needs. Give suggestions. Be there for her.
- End the silence around miscarriage. Talking about the painful experiences in life brings people closer and forms bonds for life.
- Avoid clichéd comments. Don’t worry about what you’re going to say, or if you’re saying the wrong thing. Better to be there offering quiet comfort and a hug or a simple, heart-felt, “I’m sorry” than say something just to fill the silence.
- Avoid offering unsolicited advice. Now is not the time for fixing, now is the time for being there with your friend in her grief.
- Recognize that grief doesn’t have a time limit. Don’t expect your friend to “get over” her loss.
Never underestimate the meaningfulness of a simple ‘I’m sorry.’ At any stage in their pregnancy, women and their partners often feel a real connection to their baby, and will grieve for this baby and for the future they had imagined. While there are no words to comfort someone who is experiencing the loss of a loved one and of a future hoped for, simply acknowledging the loss is appreciated and can help to ease the pain.
You could say something honest and direct, like: “I’m very sorry that you have lost your baby. How are you doing?” Or if you don’t know what to say, then say that you don’t know what to say.
When a person is experiencing a bereavement, give them empathy and space to grieve. A miscarriage is the loss of a life who meant the world to someone and it needs to be treated with the same level of empathy.
What to Say When a Co-Worker Miscarries
Depending on how well you know your co-worker, a handwritten sympathy card or a private bouquet of flowers delivered to their house may be appropriate.
Miscarriage gifts can be anything from a card to flowers, or even a sentimental memorial gift or donation. It is definitely the thought that counts.
Is it appropriate to send flowers when someone has a miscarriage?
Sending flowers is a standard way to acknowledge a life event, and while not negative in connotation, flowers can either add a cheerful atmosphere to a home or office, OR be a persistent reminder of what one has lost. Use your judgment to decide whether sending flowers will be a welcomed gesture or a painful reminder.
Flowers themselves are pleasant and beautiful reminders of life and its natural cycles of growth and decline, so if you do decide to send flowers, consider sending a bouquet of the type of flowers which symbolize the occasion.
- Lilies are a popular type of flower used for memorials. They symbolize the innocence returned to the soul of a departed person after their death. White stargazer lilies represent sympathy and any white lily represents innocence and purity.
- White and yellow chrysanthemums are widely used to say goodbye or to symbolize grief, particularly in Asian countries.
Miscarriage Quotes to Write in a Card of Condolence
- “Grief is the last act of love we can give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.” — Unknown
- “What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” — Helen Keller
- “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” — Maya Angelou
- “Some say you are too painful to remember. I say you are too precious to forget.” — Unknown
What NOT to Say When Someone Miscarries
Many women experience a range of emotions from fear to hope to devastation and everything in between, after the loss of their unborn child or a stillbirth. While she may seem okay in the moment, do not assume that she has grieved nor come to terms with the loss yet. Definitely do not say anything that dismisses the importance of the child’s life:
- “You can have another child, there’s still time.”
- “At least you already have ___ healthy children.”
- “The timing wasn’t right to have a child anyway.”
- “You dodged a bullet.”
- “Don’t worry, it wasn’t a real baby yet.”
- “At least you weren’t further along.”
- “It wasn’t meant to be.”
- “At least you can get pregnant.”
- “This happens to everyone; it’s not a big deal.”
Many people, out of fear or discomfort, often turn to clichés or inappropriate sayings like ‘everything happens for a reason,’ or ‘at least you already have other children.’ While meant to comfort, offering phrases like these don’t give any comfort to your friend but instead work to minimize the emotional impact of a miscarriage. Clichés try to help us get rid of our own discomfort.
Instead, stop and think about the other person, and how a sudden or unexpected loss would feel if you were the one experiencing it.