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Knowing what to say to someone who had a miscarriage can be difficult. This is very understandable because miscarriage does not have a single regular reaction. Miscarriage is a traumatic event that affects people differently. People react to it in different ways like grief, anxiety, depression, and even symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to Rayna Markin, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and associate professor at Villanova University who specializes in pregnancy loss and maternal mental health in women, Miscarriage is a profound experience that is rarely recognized by society because it is considered a taboo subject. Words are mighty; you can't take them back once you have said them, so you really want to be careful. Your intentions could be right, but if the words aren't right, they can add to the person's grief (I'm sure you don't want that). We will be looking at the words you can say to someone who had a miscarriage and words that you should not say.
How to Support Someone who had a MiscarriageBefore we look at what to tell someone who had a miscarriage, let us look at the various ways to show support to someone who had a miscarriage.
Be PresentWe grieve differently, and some people might not speak after experiencing such a loss. The best you can do is be fully present and be with them through it all. The best words you can say to someone who had a miscarriage can be your presence. Show up for them!
ListenYou may not need to say anything. Listen to them fully. Do not listen because you want to speak or say something, listen to empathize with them. Let your eyes speak instead of your mouth (depending on what the need is at the moment), and give your listening ears. Pay attention to their needs per time.
Encourage them to express their feelingsA significant mistake is making them feel like they should not express their feelings like crying, shouting, screaming, etc. Encourage them to express it all, the pain, stress, and every other thing they are feeling.
Be helpfulDon't just be there, help them with things they can't do for themselves or are unwilling to do. It can be a chore or getting them something to eat for them. It is also good to know that they may not accept your help or appreciate it at first, but they will later on. Being helpful is not just about rendering help; sometimes, the help they need is not something you can offer, so it is better to help them get the support and help they need on time.
Be preparedExpression of grief for miscarriage differs at times, the way we react to it can be different. For some, it can be poor appetite, nightmares, inability to sleep, panic, anxiety, persistent fears, constant tears, and nightmares. Be prepared mentally and physically for these reactions, but ensure you make the person know that you are there for them.
Support the spouse/partnerSometimes, we focus only on the person who experienced the miscarriage, forgetting that the partner/spouse also experienced a loss. Words like - How are you doing? I am here whenever you need me, how can I help? - are great to hear.
Words to say to someone who had a Miscarriage
I'm so sorry for your loss...These words are empathetic and send a message of love, connection, and encouragement. They acknowledge that there was a loss and validate the person's feelings. These words are best said in person, but you can say the words during a call if you are far from the person. They don't have to respond or reply, just be glad that you put the words out there.
I’m here for youYou can add the first name of the person involved to the front, it helps to know one is not alone after experiencing a loss of pregnancy. It can be comforting and soothing knowing friends, family, and loved ones are available whether you need their help or not.
If you ever need a shoulder to lean on…Losing a pregnancy can make one feel like the world's burden is on the person, at this time, the person may be feeling helpless and burdened. Hearing words that tell the person I am here to help and I can be a shoulder to lean on- makes the person feel loved and gives a sense of security.
I Am Here To Listen To YouListening is essential to someone who has just experienced a miscarriage. People want to avoid the topic because they are scared of causing more pain to the person involved, but this invalidates the feelings of the person who experienced the loss. Listen, don't offer advice, but truly listen and validate their feelings. Show you care by your listening and speaking with your gestures and eyes.
It's okay not to be okay.Creating a space for them to express their feelings is helpful. There are so many feelings that could be expressed at this time. Allowing the person to know that it's okay not to be okay helps them let down their guard and honestly express their feelings.
How are you doing today?Sometimes we want to help, and we do not just know how to help. Asking this question can either help the person speak about the experience or not. Whichever way it goes, asking the question with sincerity and love already passed the message of I care about how you feel and how you are doing each day.
Take All the Time You needRushing a person through the grief process can adversely impact them in the long run. Emma Robertson Blackmore, Ph.D., a University of Rochester Medical Center psychiatry professor, says a woman who has miscarried is at risk for depression and anxiety in the years that follow. There is no specific amount of time that is right; these words send the proper support needed at that time.
What NOT to Say to Someone who had a MiscarriageAs important as it is to know what to say to someone who had a miscarriage, it is equally important to know the words you should not say. I believe it was for the best - This sends a message of insensitivity, they do not feel at their best at this time, and it makes them feel like their feelings are not right. Look on the bright side - The person can’t see a bright side at this time, all they know is that they miscarried.
"I did not want to be told to look on the bright side, when someone told me to look on the bright side, it only made it worse for me. The bright side for me was with my baby, and I lost that" - Anonymous.Don’t think about it - You can not tell them what to think about and what not to think about at this time. All you can do is help them through the process.
"When someone mentions not to think about it, it made me think about it more, and it was really painful…" - Anonymous.You will get pregnant soon - After a miscarriage, some women slip into PTSD and do not want to go through that process again. These words make them sad and worried about what would happen the next time.
"Leaving the hospital, all I could think about was I did not want to go through this ever again. I had not wanted a child for a while, and when I wanted one, I lost it…No, I do not want to get pregnant soon" - Anonymous.At least you have other children - This makes them feel a sense of guilt for feeling bad for one loss when they have other children. It can even make them feel like they did not do certain things they did when they were pregnant with the other children.
"When someone told me I should be happy I had other children, I felt so bad and guilty. I felt like I was a failure" - Anonymous.
Other things to say to someone who had a Miscarriage
- “I may not understand how you feel, but I’m here to hold your hand.”
- “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
- “Just checking up on you. Do you want to do something new today?”
- “It’s okay to cry.”
- "I'm not sure what to say or do, but I will be here whenever you need me."
- “What can I do to help you?”
- “Remember you are not alone in this.”
- "I love you, sending you lots of hugs."
- “Take all the time you need.”
- "You can cry on my shoulders if you want."
- "Can I just sit with you? We don't have to talk or do anything. I just want to be with you."
- “I’m sincerely sorry for your loss.”
- "It's okay to feel vulnerable, helpless, and sad, but you should know that I am here."
TakeawayThe needs of each person experiencing the loss of pregnancy differs, listening and paying attention will help in knowing what to say to someone who had a miscarriage.
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