Miscarriage Manners: Ten Things NOT to Say to a Grieving Mother
Every year around this time my heart hurts a little bit, and it has been this way for the past 16 years. One bright sunny March afternoon in 1996 I strolled into the doctor’s office holding the tiny little hand of my soon to be three year old daughter on one side and my husband on the other. At four months pregnant, we were all so excited to hear the heartbeat of our little baby. I had seen him/her exactly four weeks prior and while small, the heart was beating strong and my heart filled with excitement.
As I lay on the examination table waiting for the nurse to find the heartbeat of our baby it became apparent that something was wrong. Within minutes the doctor confirmed that our baby had died and it was at that moment that I could not only feel my heart break into pieces, I could hear it; or maybe what I heard was the moans of a broken hearted mother who would never hold her baby in her arms.
That day, March 19, will forever be etched in the memories of my heart and always leave me wondering who that little person would have been. My faith tells me that I will meet my little one someday and I know I should be okay with that, but I am human and even after 16 years, it still hurts.
Throughout the course of this sad event in our lives, I realized that although they meant well, people just do not know what to say to someone who is hurting; whether it is a miscarriage or some other crisis, they sometimes say the most inappropriate things. Thinking that a list of what not to say to someone in this situation might be helpful, I share the following with you:
1. “It’s for the best.” According to whom? Because according to me, this was quite possibly the great loss I have encountered.
2. “I know how you feel.” Unless you have personally experienced this type of loss; do not tell someone you know how they feel. It feels very condescending and does not comfort rather it makes one feel like you are discounting their feelings.
3. "You will feel better before you know it.” Well, it’s been 16 years and while I have come to terms with the loss, I do not feel any better about it now than I did back then; I don’t think I will ever feel better about it.
4. “You can always have another one.” Sure we can, but I (we) wanted this baby.
5.“There must have been something wrong.” Ya think!
6. “Did you do something you were not supposed to?” Okay, so let’s blame the grieving mother. All I need is to feel more guilt about the situation.
7. “Be thankful for the one you have, some people can’t have any children.” Well of course, I am thankful for the one I have; I was also thankful for the one I was going to have. And whether you are trying to blame me for others' inability to have children you just did…thanks for that.
8. “Well at least it was early and you did not bond with him/her.” Oh yes I did. I saw my sweet baby four weeks prior and his/her little heart was beating like a drum. I felt that baby within my soul.
9. “Mother Nature took care of her mistake.” Oh my goodness….I heard this one the day I returned to work. I nearly fell out of my chair. Not once did I see my baby as a mistake and now this person (who never had any children) has the audacity to call my baby a mistake of nature.
10. “Well he/she is in a better place.” Yes, my faith tells me that Heaven is a wonderful place to be and I look forward to being there one day, but for me right now the better place is HERE with me.
Be mindful with your words. Sometimes not saying anything is best. I can remember one of my greatest comforts was a friend stopping by and just sitting with me while I cried. A loss is a loss; choose your words carefully, love with sincerity and know that while time will ease the pain a bit, it never goes away completely…even after 16 years.