It can be difficult to know what to say to someone who has gone through the life-changing experience of losing a child. Sometimes, the words that are meant to be comforting are actually hurtful. Here are five things not to say when talking to someone who has experienced a pregnancy loss:
1. “At least you know you can get pregnant”
While this may be true, it is often little consolation to losing a child. There is no guarantee of being able to get pregnant again and it’s possible that future pregnancies may also result in a loss. Additionally, many women who experience loss have increased anxiety and worry through subsequent pregnancies.
2. “It was early” or “it wasn’t a baby yet”
No matter the length of gestation, losing a pregnancy can be difficult emotionally and/or physically. From the moment the pregnancy test shows positive, there is often an immediate attachment to that baby and an abundance of hopes and dreams of a future with that child. It can be incredibly hurtful to dismiss feelings of a connection.
3. “It’s in God’s hands” or “everything happens for a reason” or “it wasn’t meant to happen right now”
Avoid these and other empty cliche statements that often hold little or no meaning and may not provide comfort to the recipient. Also, remember that not everyone may share your religious beliefs. Even if they do, the time following a loss can be one where an individual’s faith is shaken.
4. “You need to get over it already”
The grieving process is one that often extends over time and varies for each individual. There’s no right or wrong amount of time to move past a pregnancy loss and everyone should be given the space to mourn in a way that feels right for them.
5. Nothing at all
Although it can be difficult to address this topic, ignoring it is the worst thing you can do. One of the most important needs after a pregnancy loss is simply knowing people care and are thinking about you. Reach out in some way even if it places you outside of your comfort zone.
Do not downplay emotions, try to rationalize the “good” in the situation, or dismiss it as not being a big deal.
Instead simply say “I’m sorry.” Send a card, email, or text or ask if they want to talk (some people do not and they will let you know). Check back in a few weeks or months because initial support wears off quickly.
If you know the baby’s due date, it may be nice to remember it with a small gift or note to the parent(s); they, of course, will remember that date and getting through it may be a challenging experience.
Navigating pregnancy loss can be a learning experience for all involved and it is ok to not have all of the answers. Our organization is here to provide the resources to help guide you through this difficult time so that you can provide the best support possible for those in your life who are experiencing pregnancy loss.