Losing a pregnancy is an expectant mother’s worst fear. The moment you get that positive pregnancy test, you immediately imagine life with your sweet bundle of joy- brainstorming names, getting nursery inspiration, and transform to full mom mode.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 10% of known pregnancies and 26% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. And the World Health Organization states that 1 stillbirth occurs every 16 seconds – about 2 million a year.
If you know someone going through a miscarriage or stillbirth, words of comfort can be one of the ways to offer support to that loved one. Although nothing can take their pain away, there are some things that you can do or say that shouldn’t hurt any worse.
My Experience with Pregnancy Loss
In 2018, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was pregnant for the first time. My husband and I had been married a short while, and we’d pulled the goalie, but we weren’t really “trying” yet.
Then one day I woke up and my boobs were huge… I mean… enormous… literally overnight. I didn’t feel quite like myself for a week and started thinking I should take a pregnancy test. Sure enough, it was positive.
That was the first time life taught me that a positive pregnancy test doesn’t mean a baby in your arms 40 weeks later. Sadly, it wouldn’t be the last time either: Three years later, I lost another baby when my daughter, May, was stillborn at 31 weeks.
I have one happy, healthy, bouncy, beautiful little girl at home, but like many women, my road to motherhood has not been a smooth one. As I write this, I have one living child and am on my fourth pregnancy. And I have friends who’ve had many more losses than me.
The list of women I know who’ve had a miscarriage—or multiple, recurrent miscarriages—is longer than I ever would have imagined.
The list of women I know who’ve had a stillbirth is also far too long.
Words of Comfort for Someone Who’s Had a Miscarriage
All of us know someone affected by this, but few know how to help a friend through pregnancy loss.
Words of comfort when someone is going through a miscarriage can mean so much to a friend or loved one. But – yes – you can say and do the wrong things.
Here are ways to support someone through pregnancy loss.
Saying Something is Better than Saying Nothing
Almost worse than saying the wrong thing is saying nothing at all. Even a simple text goes a long way.
When you say nothing, it reinforces a fear I already have that my baby’s short life will be forgotten; That he or she didn’t matter, and life will go on like he or she never existed at all.
Grief is awkward for people. I get it. But especially if you see me in person, please acknowledge what happened.
It hurts more to see someone who knows about my loss and for them to say nothing at all than for them to try to say something, however clumsy.
Don’t avoid it because you’re afraid to bring up something painful, or because you’re trying to keep things light.
I don’t feel light. I feel heartbroken, and the baby I lost is the elephant in the room.
Acknowledge him or her, please. It actually helps. We don’t have to have a long conversation about it. Just a simple “I’m sorry” is all it takes.
Say Something, but Don’t Try to Make Me Feel Better
That sounds weird, I know, but I don’t need to feel better in this moment. I need to feel shocked or numb or sad or angry, or all of the above.
When you offer platitudes, it feels dismissive of what I’m going through, and I know that’s not your intent.
Even the most well-meaning words looking for a silver lining will come out wrong.
So, please, don’t tell me that at least I was able to get pregnant and I can try again. (That might be true, but it doesn’t make me less sad about the baby I lost now.)
Please don’t tell me that one day I’ll look at my next child and realize he or she wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t going through this now. (That might also be true, but I can picture my life with the children I have and the children I lost.)
Please don’t tell me that everything happens for a reason and it’s all part of some grand plan. Just don’t.
The list of things NOT to say goes on and on.
So what’s the best thing you CAN say to me? “I’m sorry. I’m thinking of you. I’m here if you need me.”
What to Do for Someone Who’s Had a Miscarriage
Words can be hard when someone is grieving, so gestures may do the trick as well.
If Words Aren’t Your Thing, Send Something Small
Flowers, a card. It doesn’t really matter because it’s not about what you send; it’s the fact that you took time out of your day to let me know you were thinking of me.
Just knowing someone cares is surprisingly impactful right now.
Related Post: 20 Sentimental Gifts for Someone Who Lost a Baby
A Simple Hug Goes a Long Way
If you’re with the person who just had a miscarriage, a comforting hug can help to support her. No words even needed except asking her first if you can give her a hug.
Bring a Meal, but Drop and Go
I need to eat but likely don’t have the energy or motivation to cook for myself right now. In fact, I might eat nothing if it weren’t for the meal you brought, so thank you; I appreciate it. But, I’m probably not up for a visit or sitting down to a meal together.
Drop and go and know that it really helped me to have that food in the house.
Depending On Our Relationship, Offer Help Around My House or with My Other Children
This is particularly true if I have kids at home at the time of my loss. They are a shining light in my life right now, but I’m also emotionally tapped.
It’s hard to be there for them and even harder to hide my sadness. Offer to take them out of the house for a bit so I have some time alone to process.
Don’t Be Offended If I Don’t Respond to Your Gesture
Know that I heard it or received it. Know that it made a difference and I’m truly grateful, but also know that I might be sobbing in a bath with a bottle of wine and not have the emotional bandwidth to reach back out right now. I will in time.
Don’t Overthink It
I know I’m giving you a list of do’s and don’ts but at the end of the day, it’s just about being there for me, letting me know you care, and acknowledging the baby I lost.
The best words of comfort for someone going through a miscarriage are simply, “I’m sorry.” Time is the only thing that will mend their heart.
About the Author: Suzanne Brubaker
Suzanne is a wife and mother who, after her miscarriage and stillbirth, started a brand of chemical-free, moderate caffeine coffee concentrate for pregnancy and breastfeeding as a way to raise money for families grieving the same heartbreak. A “you buy, we give” model. You can check it out here: www.avidlyco.com