Picture this scenario: a woman loses her pregnancy and suddenly her sister or good friend is pregnant. This is exactly what happened to me, and I’m sure it has happened to thousands of other women.
When it happened, people wanted to be excited for my sister-in-law and had no idea what to say to me. A lot of their comments for me were pretty horrendous. So if you’re here because this happened to someone close to you and you don’t know what to say, thank you, sincerely.
Thank you for trying to understand and spare her from the awful things people might say.
My trip to my hometown after my miscarriage inspired a collection of what NOT to say to a woman who had a miscarriage when she has a pregnant woman in her life.
What NOT to Say to a Woman Who Just Had a Miscarriage
1. Just relax and you’ll be pregnant in no time!
Let’s look at the facts: relaxing is one of the best ways to rejuvenate the body and the mind. I believe that the parasympathetic nervous system can shut down the reproductive system if you are too stressed. Meaning, relaxing could potentially help with conceiving.
However, this is NOT something she will want to hear. This is on par with a man telling a woman to “smile”. Ugh.
When dealing with grief, the process of relaxing looks less like this:
and more like this:
So when the grieving (non)-mother explains to you why your comment about “relaxing” is absurd, please listen.
2. Don’t you want your children and your brother’s children (or insert pregnant couple’s names here) to be around the same age?
This is the epitome of what not to say to a woman who had a miscarriage. It is simply absurd: please don’t. She has thought of everything, and you’re making her feel inadequate and like she’s failing her family.
Here’s what that woman is thinking when you say this: “Gee, this has NEVER crossed my mind….. Seriously, I can’t believe I never thought of that. I guess we should really get on that whole “trying for a baby” thing.”
3. I thought YOU were going to plan her baby shower.
Seriously, chances are, the woman is ecstatic for her friend or sister who is pregnant! But grief can cloud judgment and objectivity, and she may be struggling with feeling all these different emotions at the same time.
This is like forcing yourself to go running immediately following a knee surgery. It’s incredibly painful, and you’re not going to heal properly, if not re-injure yourself entirely.
For me, I was super excited for my brother and sister in law, but I was not excited for ME. After having my first opportunity to be a mother snatched from my grasps, I really couldn’t bring myself to care about being an aunt.
Planning my sister-in-law’s baby shower would have been far too painful. Please don’t make a woman who just had a miscarriage do this.
4. Are you excited? (About being an aunt)
When I was seven, I played on a summer soccer league. I wasn’t particularly keen on group sports, so I probably spent my time plucking dandelions and daydreaming. Once during a game, I was near the sideline in my own world, and I looked up to see the soccer ball in the air, hurdling toward me with daunting speed. I could have moved, I could have tried to kick it… hell, I could have done ANYTHING except stand there in its way!
The soccer ball struck me just below the sternum and I doubled over in pain, gasping for air while some other kid stole the ball.
So when a woman had just asked my mom if she was excited about becoming a grandmother and then turned to me and asked if I was excited…. I felt exactly like I had when I was smashed with that soccer ball at seven years old.
I suddenly had no air to breathe and hot tears hit my eyes. The next moment, a surge of adrenaline coursed through my veins and I was ready to pummel her. I’m strongly against violence of any kind, but feeling my knuckles smash her cheekbone would have been equal retribution to the crime.
Again, I was feeling multiple emotions, but the one everyone had no interest in discussing was my grief. They pretended it wasn’t there. My baby had died… how was I supposed to be happy for someone else?
Comments like this make a woman feel invisible, unimportant, and like she’s an afterthought. They give no consideration or validation to what the woman is feeling. And her feelings ARE valid. Because the grief of losing a pregnancy is a real thing.
5. I thought you might be pregnant and not telling anyone.
This was the absolutely worst thing that I heard after my miscarriage, and I heard it many different times.
Here’s why this is wrong:
It’s absolutely none of anyone’s business whether the woman is pregnant right now except for hers and her significant others. They might be trying, they might not. We’ve established as a culture that it’s wrong to inquire to married couples when they are going to start having kids. That hasn’t changed just because a woman has gotten pregnant once already.
Second, assuming makes an ass out of you and me. We don’t ask women when they’re due if you don’t know 100% that she’s pregnant… same thing applies here.
If she’s not pregnant again yet, it feels like you’re smearing that in her face. You might not be trying to do it, but that’s what it feels like. If she IS pregnant, she might still be early on and waiting to see if the pregnancy is viable. It’s completely reasonable that she not shares that information with you.
Last and most importantly, you’re implying that her worth is defined by whether she’s pregnant or not. Again, this probably isn’t your intention, but it’s absolutely 100% true.
This is an absolutely degrading to a woman who lost a pregnancy. Please don’t go there.
After my sister-in-law sent me her first ultrasound picture after my miscarriage, it triggered my complete mental break-down, I had SERIOUS RAGE. I got angry at everything.
A woman who suffered a miscarriage is likely to be angry if she has to hear comments like this. Grieving is a difficult process and hearing ignorant comments can be painful and raw.
Some compassion and gentleness go a long way. And hopefully the woman will have a happy ending to her story.
The best thing you can do for this woman right now is to not make assumptions and to listen. And please, dear god, don’t say these thing NOT tell a woman who had a miscarriage when she has a pregnant woman in her life.