Sunday, August 11, 2013

What NOT to Say/What TO SAY to a Friend Who Has Miscarried--A Guide for Helping

I spent a bit of my Sunday afternoon in the ER waiting room with a friend's children while their mommy was inside.

She was getting the news that would devastate her heart.

She had indeed miscarried her baby.


Fortunately her husband was able to be there with her when the nasty news was confirmed. I am so grateful for that.

She rounded the corner and fell into my arms and sobbed.

There is no pain like that of losing a child.

And yes, a miscarriage COUNTS.

It matters not how far you are along in your pregnancy.

Trust me. I've lost three babies. Three different trimesters.


So to you who know someone who has just miscarried a baby, I want to help you know what to say and what NOT to say. How to love on a friend or family member who has entrusted YOU with the knowledge that they are grieving the loss of their baby is a big responsibility. Your heart is right. You care. Let's go down this list together:

Here's what NOT TO SAY:

* "You can always have another baby." No. Not always. And this comment is NOT encouraging as it gives no credence to the fact that she just lost a child. A unique life that will never ever be replicated.

* "Well at least you weren't that far along." Think this makes her pain less? Wrong. The NANO-SECOND a mother learns she is carrying life within her she falls in love. The bonding of a woman with her child in utero defies words. If she only knew of her child one DAY it would still hurt.

* "Well, I knew a woman once who miscarried FIVE babies in a row!" Don't do this. Please. You have just shrunk your friend's very real and tangible pain by this story. Granted, this is indeed a horrifying story.  You do NOT need to share every story you know with her. Not to mention this causes fear in her heart that maybe it will happen again to her. She doesn't need that.

* "This too shall pass/You'll get over it." Um, huh? Please. Just pray that God will hold his hand over your mouth instead. This is her grief work, not yours. You won't help her by telling her this will pass and she'll get over it.

*"At least you already have 2 (or however many) healthy children!" Yes, she is grateful. But this is NOT comforting in the loss of this baby. She lost THIS BABY. She misses this one. Don't count her blessings FOR her. She will do it on her own.
*"There was probably something wrong with the baby, that's why this happened. It's nature's way of cleansing." This is NOT helpful. But so dreadfully common! Do you see that this is implying that a child who is born with a birth defect or a special need is a lesser person? Less deserving of life? Do you see that this is under the category of what NOT TO SAY? Please, hold your tongue here too. Trying to NOT get on my soapbox...

*"These things happen for a reason..." Usually followed by a little pat-pat on the hand. Honestly? I hate that. It feels like you've just blown off the depth of the pain she's enduring. Just put your hand on her back and be silent.

*"Will you try again soon?" Honestly, I cannot fathom anyone asking such a question. But my friend told me this was one of the things that really put her under. Dudes, don't ask. None of your business.

*"Maybe you should look into adoption." As a mom of biological children, who has lost three times and now adopted children...this is not a suggestion you should make to a grieving mother. Adoption is not a second string plan of building a family. I know plenty of families who choose adoption before even attempting to have biological children. Adoption is a personal decision, not something anyone should suggest someone else do.

*"Maybe it was something you did?" this comment has been followed by a person's experience of doing hard labor--scrubbing floors or something. As if we could kill our children by cleaning. (Please, if this were true there would be no children born to impoverished mothers in third world countries who must cut down trees for charcoal and work in the rice paddies.) This is pretty far off in left field for someone to say such a thing, but I am not making these up. I'm not. Really.

*"Maybe this just isn't the right time for your family." OR "Well you really weren't in a good position for a baby right now." This is also not a real nice thing to say to a grieving mother. I promise you, she would move all heaven to be with that baby right now. Convenience doesn't matter. A mother's grieving heart is going to think of these things anyway...and possibly wonder with a guilty conscience that she actually WISHED her child away...

*"Now you have a guardian angel looking down on you." This is just theologically incorrect. People who die do not become angels. It's a sweet thought, but wrong. Please don't say this. See below for what to say instead of this one.

*"Call me if you need anything." She will not call. No woman I know who is hurting can muster up the memory of WHO said that to her let alone what in the world to ask for. And even if she could remember, she's not going to call you and ask if you'd just bring her some comfort food.


*"I'm so sorry." She is too. You've just joined her where she is. This is comforting.

*"This hurts." You don't have to have had this same experience to acknowledge that this hurts. If you meet someone who has just had their leg cut off in a motorcycle accident you don't have to  have had yours cut off too to recognize that this hurts. Acknowledging her hurt allows her to be honest where she is.

*"Your baby is a treasured creation of God. His or her life is not lost. They are safe in the arms of Jesus." Truth. You can never go wrong.

*"Can I take your other children for a few hours this week?" 

*"I'm bringing you a meal. Is it okay for _____day? What time do you typically eat?"

* Be silent. Give her a hug. Rub her shoulder. 

*If she is in the mood to talk--LISTEN. Ask her how she is feeling. If she answers about how she feels physically, listen. If she answers how she is feeling emotionally, listen. Ask her about the one she did not answer. Give her the option not to answer: say, "If you'd rather not talk now, I understand." Follow with a hug.

*If you have lost a child yourself, share this with her if you are comfortable. There is a great community of mothers who have miscarried. It's a silent community as we do not wear a badge to mark us, but we are many and we are out there. When you share your story, be sensitive to not go on and on. This is HER TIME now. Just let her know that you have experienced it too. Call her over the next weeks and check in with her.

*Send her a card. 

*Remind her of the ever-present love of Jesus. Sit down and write out some of the verses that YOU like when things are rough or you don't understand. Sharing from your heart is a wonderful gift.

*Call her in a week and specifically ask her how her heart is doing. Ask her how she is physically feeling. Ask if she's sleeping. Would she like to go out for coffee/ice cream? Set a reminder on your phone to do this. It sounds robotic, but seriously, we get so lost in our own's not that we don't care...but we get busy and soaked in with OURSELVES. When your reminder comes up, your heart will be refueled with compassion and your friend will treasure that you have remembered her.

*Go over to her house and clean some bathrooms. Fold a load or two of laundry. Tidy some rooms. Wipe down some countertops. Blow through the kitchen with a broom. A tidy environment always is encouraging! She is then not surrounded by the negative "to do" list staring her in the face!

Can you add anything to the list above? Comment below and help me make this list more complete!!

post signature


  1. Very sweet words:) Having lost an older brother, the "This too shall pass" quote stings badly. Thanks for sharing. I know my sweet husband has a child in heaven waiting for him. Though the baby was not in my belly but rather my two oldest kiddos mommy, I look with pleasure one day to finally meet him or her.

  2. Love this and its all so true. I have lost two babies. My first was a tubal pregnancy and they had to do emergency surgery to take it and my tube. My second one my levels wouldn't get over 200. They would go up and down everyday. So they gave me a chemo treatment to make me miscarry. I am now 9¹/² weeks pregnant now and everything is healthy so far. Thank god it finally happened. There was so many times I wanted to give up and not try anymore. But I didn't and I am so glad.

    1. Ashley, I am praying you will deliver a glorious, happy baby at the end of this pregnancy! Thank you for your comments. God comforts us in our brokenheartedness. Truly He loves us!

  3. thank you for these words, they are so helpful to know. I haven't experienced a loss of a child, so I do not want to be foolish enough to think that I have any idea how that feels. I have however had a child born with a birth defect and that is a pain that is practically indescribable. Most of your advice here would fit that situation also. When people are in serious pain, please be gentle with your words and use them sparingly.

  4. Thanks so much for this. I totally appreciate it. Even though I have had several miscarrages and a still birth, all were agonizing but I cannot know how someone else feels when they experience loss. Saying I know how you feel is a stinging comment that hurts rather than helping. Only God alone knows exactly how we feel. He sent His only son to die on the cross for our sins. It was a great comfort for me to go to Him and grieve. He helped me through the stages of grief including anger at Him for letting it happen. He surrounded me with a loving community of Christians who helped me through it all. I have been blessed with two amazing kids and they will have lots of sibblings in heaven and I look forward to meeting the kids that went to be with Jesus.

    1. I am so sorry for your losses, Kathy. Thank you for your words. Jesus understands! I look forward to meeting your sweet ones in Heaven someday! Blessings!!

  5. Is it insensitive to have a memorial for a miscarried baby? One of my friends just lost twins and I don't want to make her upset.

    1. Christine, I think that is such a sweet gesture! Let me assure you of something: you will not make her upset. She is ALREADY upset. These losses tear us apart at the heart level. Honestly, I think your desire to have a memorial (service?) for this child is precious and your friend would be so touched that you care so much. I would advise asking her first of course, as different people have different levels of privacy. I think one thing that hurts so much is that it can feel like nobody remembers or considers the loss. Your kind heart will be a blessing to your hurting friend. I ache hearing of her loss. I am praying for her torn heart now. Blessings.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...