What to Say, and What Not to Say, to Someone After Losing a Pregnancy

What TO say:

-“I am so sorry to hear about Lia” or “I am so sorry for your loss.” Call the baby by its name, if it had one. Use he/she pronouns if possible (unlike the “it” I just called the baby).

-“You will always be that baby’s mother. She won’t be forgotten” If she doesn’t have other children, let her know this baby made her a mother.

-“I had a miscarriage as well, so let me know if you ever need to talk.” It helps to share any pregnancy or infant losses you’ve suffered, if you’re comfortable. But keep in mind not all losses are equal. While every human life has equal intrinsic value, and every pregnancy or infant loss is a tragedy at any stage, a mother’s emotional connection to her child deepens the farther she is in her pregnancy. So a chemical pregnancy, for example, is not the same as losing an infant to SIDS. When I talk to someone who’s had a stillborn, I say something like, “I can’t even fathom your pain, because I was only 13 weeks along, but I lost my daughter too and you are not alone.” This lets her know I am not assuming I know exactly what she’s going through, but that I went through something similar and I am here for her.

What NOT to say:

-“At least now you know you can get pregnant.” This isn’t totally awful… I mean it is somewhat reassuring… but you don’t know whether we’ll be able to conceive again. And finding out you’re fertile by losing a child is far from ideal.

-“You’ll get pregnant again soon.” This is completely dismissing the loss of the miscarried child. A mother can’t simply replace the child and be ok.

-“It wasn’t even a baby yet, so don’t be sad.” Denying the baby’s personhood is the worst possible thing you can say to a bereaved mother. You might as well slap her across the face, as it would be less painful.

“The baby probably had something wrong with it so it was a blessing in disguise.” Great, so you’re insulting my child, plus assuming I’d rather she die than have to raise her. 

“At least you have other kids.” Yes, a woman grieving a child is no doubt grateful for her other children. But that doesn’t take away the pain for the child she lost. That child was just as loved, and was her other children’s sibling.

Please comment with anything else you’ve heard that was either comforting or hurtful, and I’ll add it to the list! The more people know, the better they can be there for us. Most of them mean well but simply don’t have the words.

My biggest comfort, after my husband. She still laid on my belly for a few days after we lost the baby.
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2 comments

  1. I’d say to tiptoe very carefully around sharing your loss experience too because I agree that not all losses or experiences are equal. I had almost everyone I know that gave condolences and shared they had a miscarriage but I did not have a miscarriage, we lost our son at 23 weeks to preterm birth, he was born alive, we held him in our arms. Multiple ppl sharing that they had a miscarriage almost made me feel more alone in my grief because no one could say they had an experience like ours. Agree all are still losing a child, losing hope and very painful but just be sure you don’t say, “I know how you feel.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Megan, I am so very sorry for your loss! I was trying to convey this in the blog, but may not have worded it the right way. Anytime I hear of someone who’s lost a living infant, had a stillborn, or even a miscarriage at a later stage in pregnancy than mine, I acknowledge that their pain is unimaginable to me. For infant loss and stillborns I tell the mothers I don’t even feel worthy to share their pain, as it was so much greater than mine. How do we raise awareness so that people know how to speak to you to not make you feel alone? How can I word the blog differently so that your message is heard? We all need to be educated so we can be there for each other. Thank you so much for your feedback.

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