When you see someone you care about hurting, you want to take away that pain, and help any way you can. Sometimes, though, even the most heartfelt attempt to share comforting words can become very hurtful. I’ve been guilty of this myself, and I never knew how hurtful it could feel on the receiving end. So if you have a loved one that's going through miscarriages, infertility, and grief, I want to help you lift them up.
Sometimes, though, you don’t have to say anything at all. Just be present. Sit with them in the pain. Just be there. Give a hug. Bring a meal. Sometimes words aren’t necessary. You just need to know you’re not alone.
Here are some helpful things I've learned along my journey. These words were all spoken to me with love after my miscarriages, but the words still stung my already broken heart.
At least it was early. At least you have other children. At least you can try again. At least… anything. Don’t say it. If someone you loved lost their husband or wife you wouldn’t say, “at least you can get married again.” Of course you wouldn’t say that. This isn’t just a miscarriage for your loved one. This is a death, and it’s devastating.
Instead, say “I love you.”
“You share too much personal information.”
This one is two-part. Everyone celebrates differently. Everyone grieves differently.
1. If you want to publicly announce your pregnancy the minute you get a positive test. DO IT! Live your life! Because you know what? You’re pregnant. Right now, in this moment, your baby is with you. Enjoy every moment of it, and don’t let anyone tell you how or when to celebrate.
2. Everyone grieves differently. So, do whatever you need to do to heal your heart. If you need to hide from the world, hide. If you need to start a vlog talking about your pain, share your story. If you need to stay in bed for weeks and eat pizza and ice cream, eat all the comfort food you want. If you need to jump on one leg and dress up like a chicken, YOU DO YOU. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should grieve. There is no timeframe, and no guidelines to grief. This is your journey and yours alone.
Instead, say “I’m here for you.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t do so much yoga”
If your loved one just lost her child, please know that she is spending every waking minute of every day, wondering what she did wrong. She’s replaying every single detail of what she could have done to cause this. She’s hating herself, and every mistake she made. She’s falling apart. The last thing she needs to hear is that you might think she caused the death of her baby.
Instead, say “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
Stop. Saying. This. Everything does not happen for a reason. Sometimes utter crap happens for no reason at all. I remember when people would say this to me, in my mind I would shout “Really? Then, please tell me. Why did my baby die? What was the reason?” So, my response to this comment was always painful tears.
Instead, say “I’m praying for you.”
“You’re just an angel maker.”
I swear to you, these words were said to me by a friend who loves me very much. I know they love me, and I know they were trying to cheer me up. I also know that I don’t have to explain why you shouldn’t say this to someone who is grieving.
Instead, say “I’m sorry you’re hurting.”
“Just stop trying and it will happen.”
Just stop trying? Thank you, Karen! That’s a perfectly logical solution to my problem. I mean, here I am consulting doctors, specialists and professionals about infertility and causes for miscarriages, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on treatments, and desperately praying to God… but you just solved my problem. I’ll stop trying, I won’t care about it all, and I’ll magically get pregnant like your 2nd cousin Becky did. (Picking up on the sarcasm?) My rant may sound silly, but I promise, if you say this to a woman trying to have a baby, this is exactly what will be going through her mind.
Instead, just give a hug. No words are needed.