I wrote a lot of posts about grief after my brother passed away last September. Most of those posts were read a lot and shared by many readers. I've noted that sometimes people just don't know what to do or say around someone who is grieving and that is what prompted me to write the first Grief PSA post.
I'm writing this post because it's clear to me that most people don't know what to say to someone who is hurting after a miscarriage. I don't think the people who have said these things to me are trying to be hurtful, at least I hope not, but these words do carry quite the sting at the moment.
- You just need to relax. Every single time that I hear this, and it has been a lot, I want to reply, "And you just need to STFU." If it were only so easy as simply relaxing. If only! I might add that this line in particular pisses me off because, let's face it, it puts the blame for the entire thing on the woman who has lost her baby. How wonderfully kind and loving, eh?
- At least the baby wasn't born. True, the baby wasn't born. It wasn't born because it died before it could be born. This was, in fact, a real and living baby at one point and now it is not.
- At least you didn't get too attached. As someone who intentionally had been trying to conceive, I can say that this baby was a very real and loved family member to me from the moment that conception was suspected. Attachment and love already existed even in the earliest days.
- It wasn't even a baby yet so I don't know why you're so upset. Fine, let's argue semantics. Sure, it's technically called a fetus. It's a fetus with arms, legs, fingers, toes, a heart. . .it was very wanted, already loved, and it was living at one time. Now it's heart has stopped and that's why it's so upsetting. What was alive is not living any longer.
- Your baby was probably messed up so this is a blessing. No, no it isn't. Any baby is a gift, regardless of the so-called imperfections.
- You're being stupid/silly/crazy/irrational/fill-in-the-blank. And you're being cold and heartless, so what's your point and how does this help the person who is grieving?
- Get over it, this happens to a lot of women and you don't see them carrying on about it for weeks on end. Yes, this does happen to a lot of women, but this happened to me and I'm still hurting over it. Perhaps insensitive comments such as these are why most women don't feel that they can talk about it? And I can't say that I blame them for suffering in silence because these "helpful" comments are anything but helpful.
There really isn't anything to say, is there? A simple, "I'm sorry," would suffice if you feel the need to say anything.
If you've experienced a miscarriage, it may be helpful to share your story with the person who has recently lost their baby. I was shocked at how many women I know who have experienced a similar situation, but I was comforted by their words and encouragement. Some went on to have perfectly healthy pregnancies and others did not. Some lost their babies before they even knew they were pregnant, and others ended in a stillbirth. No matter how far along they were, all experienced hurt and grief when they lost their baby.
Why do I mention these things? Because it is perfectly normal and natural to grieve over a lost baby! I'll repeat it in case that didn't come across loud and clear: It is perfectly normal and natural to grieve over a lost baby! I think it would be suspect if I didn't care. However, I also acknowledge that other people grieve differently so I'm not saying there is anything wrong if one doesn't grieve for a miscarried baby. There's no right or wrong when it comes to grief. It just is what it is and we all feel loss and experience grief differently.
Perhaps one day my story, as documented in this blog, will serve as comfort and encouragement to another woman who is suffering. And, if that's the case, then I suppose this experience is worth the present pain.