If you’ve had the terrible, heart-wrenching misfortune of losing a child by miscarriage, I understand. And so does St. Zelie Martin, who experienced child loss multiple times.
People try to help, and it is not always a healing experience.
This is a list for those who want to comfort someone. Hopefully, it helps you understand what someone needs to hear. Meal trains, household help, and just a quiet cup of tea also are helpful. When all else fails, just listen, and if they don’t feel like talking, just be present to them.
This article is also for those experiencing the deep sorrow that comes with a miscarriage so they can read the words that should have been said to them. Hopefully, it helps to mend the broken pieces of your heart that shattered just a little bit more when poor words were spoken.
What Not To Say When A Friend Miscarries
Don’t say, “If only you had never known you were pregnant.”
Why? Because miscarriage is a delicate thing. Right when a couple realizes the joy growing inside of the womb, hope abounds. Maybe even before having a chance to even see an ultrasound or only seeing a tiny little outline of their child, it’s all taken from them.
I get it. You want to take away their pain, but what it sounds like is that you also want to take away their child. You don’t need to solve their problems. There’s nothing anyone can do anymore. The child has gone to God.
Perhaps you mean, “If only these things didn’t ever happen and you could’ve had that baby. I’m so sorry for this loss.” Or try saying, “It’s a blessing to know this. I am honored you shared with me. Thank you.”
Don’t say “It’s only because you track your cycle so closely. If you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t have even noticed.”
Why? OUCH. Because some women lose a lot of blood. As in, they would’ve thought they were dying, seriously ill, or otherwise, if not known they were pregnant and realized something was going terribly wrong.
Also, this statement discourages women from tracking their health, which is important.
Would you ever suggest someone not go to a dermatologist for a strange skin patch because then maybe they wouldn’t have found out they had cancer? No.
Instead say, “I hope you continue to track your cycle for your health. Be kind to your body, and maybe if you think you need a different doctor, try one who understands natural fertility tracking. You deserve support and answers.”
Don’t say “It would’ve been better had they never been conceived.”
Why? You just suggested the life of the unborn and much-wanted child was not worthy. Let them mourn. Let them love the child. Let them grieve in peace. A child’s life was lost at its first spark of life. It’s just as much a person as anyone else is, but instead, you grieve that you never met them, watched them grow, or maybe even could name them.
If you think it’s prudent, instead try, “It is a blessing to know that this child existed. I would’ve loved to have met this person. What do you think he or she would’ve been like?”
Don’t say “At least you know you can get pregnant.”
Why? Because they might not know that. The couple might have tried for so long and didn’t end up with a healthy child in their arms. That hurts. She might be thinking, “What’s the point of getting pregnant if I lose the child?” Infertility is a struggle. Child loss is a struggle. It’s all a struggle. Don’t compare.
Instead say, “I’m so sorry you are going through this. This is really hard. How can I help?”
Don’t say “It’s better this way.”
Why? Yes, God has mercy on people, and in certain situations where the parents are not prepared or in a great position for the child, He can use it to show them they should make changes or that He would bless them with children, who are always a blessing, but since this child wasn’t going to make it, He took the child to the safety and comfort of His home. Never suggest it’s a blessing to have a loss like this or that God wanted it this way.
Instead say, “Children are a blessing from God, but losing one isn’t Him cursing you. He will make good come from this somehow. He loves you and your child. He has not abandoned you even in this. It’s okay to cry and be sad about, but never forgot you are loved and so is your child.”
Don’t say, “You have other kids.” Or “Well, it’s for the better. You have so many children already/other careless reason. You’re just too busy.”
Why? Because one person’s life doesn’t replace another’s life. It’s not a matter of having five kids already so losing one isn’t important. It’s vitally important—literally. Don’t brush the issue off so rudely. And don’t suggest that they can’t handle what God’s already blessed them with. That’s unsupportive.
Instead, maybe you mean, “Losing this child must be so difficult because you love each of your other children so much and don’t have the opportunity to show this one love the same way. I pray Mother Mary holds him or her for you and tells your child all about the family that loves them.”
Don’t say, “Well, at least it was just such-and-such weeks along. Imagine the devastation if it would have been a stillborn or a toddler or a teen with cancer.”
Why? Because each hurt is different. Losing a child is losing a child, but each way a child is lost aches a specific way. Go to a children’s memorial and read the engravings. They all are tear-jerking. Not one of them is, “Oh, well, at least it’s not as bad as this one.” Each different loss is excruciating. It hits people differently.
Miscarriage you don’t even have a face to remember. Let that sink in.
Instead say, “That is so early. This must be a rollercoaster of emotions. I am here for you.”
Don’t say “You can try again. You’re young. ”
Why? Because right now, they might not want to. Grieving parents might have already tried again. This child might have been their “try again.” It’s doesn’t matter if they are young and have time. Now is not the time to point it out. Being young doesn’t mean they are free of care and pain.
Instead say, “I am so sorry you’re going through this
Don’t say “Haven’t you had one before? Aren’t you used to it by now…”
Why? No, no, no, please no. Perhaps they are “used to” the pain and grief, but this is a delicate situation. Someone sharing their first loss or fifteenth loss is being vulnerable, even if they have a strong face on.
Instead say, “Are you okay? I don’t know what it is like to go through what you are, but I’m listening if you want to tell me.”
Don’t say “Did you work-out too much? Were you stressed? Lift something heavy? Eat something weird?”
Why? Because you’re suggesting it’s her fault! That’s why. It’s not your job to find the reason for it. You’re suggesting she be a couch potato, and when she does, you’ll then suggest that she work out more. The world wants strong women and also wants to blame us for everything that might go wrong.
Instead say, over and over again, “It’s not your fault. Even if you blame yourself, I don’t and God doesn’t and your child doesn’t. We all love you.”
If grieving parents ask for advice or you feel it is appropriate, here are some other healing responses to miscarriage: ask if you can have a Mass said for them and their little one, ask for the child’s name, and point out that the Church doesn’t say whether someone is in heaven or not, but there is no reason to believe otherwise.
God loves and knows even the smallest of us, and He will never forget your little one.
St Zelie herself said, “We shall find our little ones again up above.”
Prayer After Miscarriage
O heavenly Father, You know what is best for us always. Perhaps my child would have suffered greatly in life, or wasn’t ready yet to come into the world. I ask you, dear God, to please send Your mercy on all parents who are experiencing the loss and pain of a miscarriage and console them with the sure certainty that they will see their little treasure again. I admit I feel some fear for the future, an apprehension that this could happen again. Nevertheless, O Lord, I put my trust in You. You are the God who heals me; You are the Good Shepherd who will neither leave me nor forsake me, so I am at peace. Please kiss my little angel, and tell my child I yearn for the day we will be together again, with You, in the Kingdom of heaven.
O Lord, grant my husband and me the grace according to Your Will to conceive again. Help us continue to make our home a welcoming place for all life. Jesus, Comforter of all who mourn, we put our trust in You. Amen. Dear Mother Mary, I come before you today with a heavy heart. I have lost the beautiful child from within my womb, the child God gave me. I do not want to accept this, yet I bring my sorrow to you, O Mother of Sorrows, because you understand. I am filled with a deep sadness, O Mary, and I cry sometimes silently for this my beloved little one, now with you. O Mary, I feel so alone, although my family and friends do their best to comfort me. Still, I trust God, even when I don’t understand.– Bart Tesoriero