I get it, giving empathy and support to someone going through something you've never been through can be hard. I tend to assume people have the best intentions, however sometimes they may not come out like that.
I've created a list of the top 10 things you DEFINITELY shouldn't say to someone who's experienced a loss, whether that be an early pregnancy loss, medical termination, a stillbirth or the loss of a baby.
Many of these things were actually said to me after my loss, and it deeply impacted how I felt.
10. "Oh well, you can try again soon"
Your friend doesn’t want to think about “trying again”. Maybe it wasn’t easy to fall pregnant this time, and the prospect of trying again terrifies her.
9. "At least you can conceive"
Hearing this certainly isn't any consolation to a grieving mother. How do you know that the couple didn't spend years trying to conceive this baby? Maybe they've been through years of fertility treatments and procedures.
8. "Be thankful, you've already got one/two/three kids already"
Of course she's thankful for the children she has earth side. Doesn't mean she isn't grieving for the child she wanted. All this does is make her feel guilt, shame and like her feelings aren’t real or valid. Even if she had twenty children, losing a baby isn’t easy.
7. "The timing must not be right"
According to who?
6. "The baby must have been disabled/malformed"
This is a HORRIBLE thing to say to say to anyone. Simply implying that babies with a disability are anything less than non-disabled babies is awful.
5. "At least you lost the pregnancy earlier rather than later"
A loss is a loss, no matter what stage. No one is able to say a 6 week old baby in utero is any less loved or important than a 20 week old baby in utero. That's like saying to a mum who lost her 2 year old that she should be thankful it wasn't her 10 year old.
4. "It wasn't actually a baby yet anyway"
Sure, the baby may have been in the early stages of development, but it was still a baby to her. From the day she knew she was pregnant, she dreamt about who her baby would become, she loved her baby. Please don't undermine the worth of her baby.
3. "It wasn't meant to be"
Sure, you may believe "Everything happens for a reason" but to a mum grieving the loss of her baby, no reason is going to make her feel any better. This statement is most unhelpful.
2. "Maybe it happened because (insert statement about her lifestyle)"
Nope. Telling her that her age caused the loss, or that she stressed too much, or ate sushi, or drank a glass of wine is just going to make her feel more awful than she already does. I guarantee she's already wondering what she could have possibly done to cause or prevent the loss. In reality, nothing she did caused it. It's not her fault.
1. "Time heals all wounds"
Whilst it's true, she won't be experiencing this level of sadness and grief in 5 years’ time. But right now, she doesn't want think about moving on. She doesn't want to think of a future without her baby. She wants her feeling validated. She wants to know its ok to grieve the loss of her baby.
Please DO say:
"I'm sorry for your loss"
"I am here for you"
"Is there anything I can do to support you right now?"