Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What To Say

Last week, my small group was talking about how no one is ever sure what to say to someone who is going through a difficult time, and how there ought to be a handbook for times like that.

So here it is--the handbook of what to say (and what not to say) to someone who is experiencing a miscarriage.

What to Say

* "I am so sorry for your loss."

* "I'm praying for you."
This only counts if you actually are.

* "I love you."

Things that Might Be Okay to Say, Given the Circumstances

* "I know how you feel."
You can only say this if you have been through the same thing, meaning miscarriage or other similar fertility problems. At this point, the only people who can say this to me are moms who have been through multiple miscarriages, because how you feel by the third time is different than how you feel the first time (although both are horrible).

* "Is there anything I can do?"
Often, my gut reaction in my intensely depressed state is to think that no, the baby is dead, there's nothing that anyone can do. However, this becomes a good thing to say if you follow it up with a specific offer as to what you can do. Good things that people have said to me have included offers for dinner, phone numbers for a good doctor, and a night of escapism with a visit from a friend.

Things You Should Never Say
* "Medically speaking, it wasn't really a baby yet--it was just cells."
This was actually said to me by my doctor... thus why I will be finding a new doctor. And for those of us that believe that life begins at conception, this is flat-out insulting.

* "There's a reason for everything" or "There's a reason that this happened."
Probably true, but unless you are God, you don't know that reason, so this is an empty platitude. And for the record, I really wish God would fill me in as to His reasons, but I know that not how He works.

* "I didn't realize you were trying."
I didn't realize I was obligated to keep you updated on that.

* "At least you already have two beautiful daughters."
Yes, I do, and I'm grateful for them every day. But when I look at them, that also reminds me that there should have been other beautiful daughters and sons that didn't make it. I adore my children more than anything else on earth, but that doesn't mean that I can view them as a replacement for others.

* "It will be okay."
It never will be okay. I will never look back on this and say, oh, it's okay that baby died.

* "The timing wasn't right. After all, you've just gone back to work."
A job is just a job. No job can even begin to compare with the miracle of life. Yes, I happen to really like the job I have just started. But they do have maternity leaves, and anyway, no job is as important as family and life.

* "It's probably good that this happened early on."
This comment is sometimes accompanied by "If the baby had grown to term, there would probably have been something wrong with it."
A miscarriage is not a good thing, not at any point during the pregnancy. And even if there was something wrong with the baby when it came, that certainly wouldn't stop me from loving it.

* "You know, miscarriages are common. They happen in 1 out of every X pregnancies."
I have heard this figure range everywhere from 1 in 8 pregnancies to 1 in 3 pregnancies. But that statistic doesn't make me feel better; it just makes me feel sad for all the other women that have experienced this. In any case, I am now at 3 of 5, which I believe puts me over the "average" no matter what figure you use.

I don't say all of this to insult anyone who has said these things. In fact, I know that before I experienced this myself, I said similar things to other people going through hard times. I know that everyone means well and say these things in love. I guess I'm just hoping this might help others who have gone through the same thing.


Kathy said...

aww Amy. I just read this post and the one prior. I'm so sorry :( We're thinking of you and Ben and praying for your family in this difficult time. I hope that you're able to get some answers from the doctors soon, too.

Let me know if you'd like to hang out the weekend the boys are out of town (I think they are still planning to go?). We can do a girls day.

Carrie said...

How about "my heart hurts for you" :(. I'm sorry. Really, I am.

Anonymous said...

I am really sorry too, Amy... Love, Ashley

Cathy said...

I love you. My heart hurts for you too. If I've said any of these, I'm sorry. You are so super brave for talking about it, and getting it out there. Personally, I greatly appreciate this list, because I'm usually struck dumb when awful things happen, awkward, and I just don't know what to say, except to give a hug. So..expect many hugs.

Kathleen said...

I am so very, very sorry. If you haven't already, please check your e-mail. Love, Kathleen

Tina said...

I am so sorry to hear about this. We will be sending special prayers your way.

Krysten said...

This sucks! I love you whole big bunches and I will be thinking about you and Ben and the girls.

Melissa said...

Amy, I am so sorry that this happened and my heart is breaking for you. Sending all my love and healing your way.

Suellen said...

Amy, I love you and am praying for you. (Really, I am so this should count!) We definitely know some good doctors if you are interested.

Andrea said...

I remember when you sent me those articles that was similar to this. I totally agree and have been told just about everything on this list. The first few help - the last definitely do the opposite. I was set back for a long time by people who acted as if an early miscarriage doesn't matter. It does. Again I am so sorry for your loss.

Jenn said...

So sorry you're going through this. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.


Ginny said...


I am very sorry for your loss. This past summer, we lost our baby, a boy, when I was 20 weeks pregnant. It was the hardest experience of my life, as soon as I found out I was pregnant, that baby was a big part of my life and the life of my family.

The outpouring of support from family and friends humbled me, and, at the same time, I had a hard time feeling whole. I still feel like something is missing, and I think I just have to learn to live with that. I also learned a great deal about myself, my husband, my daughter, and the rest of my family who were amazing supports, filled with love and patience.

Give yourself time to heal and feel every bit of the sadness and loss you have experienced, and take good care.


Anonymous said...

I love you Amy!

Mandy B!

Cathy said...

Dr. Mazdi with Westside Gynocology, I think.