This post has been rumbling in my mind for some time now. I struggled to get out what I wanted to say, how it was best said and then committed on paper.
But I logged on to Facebook earlier and saw the joyful news of a baby announcement for the founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and his wife, Priscilla Chan. They were very open that this was their fourth pregnancy, following three miscarriages. And this reminded me that my focus needed to be simple and not rambling.
So, my husband and I have suffered two miscarriages and several couples dear to me have also suffered losses. Other friends have had their own struggles with creating the family that they have dreamed of.
What I wanted to write about, and share, was that sometimes people say the dumbest things about miscarriage and the struggle to have a family. So, I ultimately wanted a list of things that people said that were hurtful, which could be shared. Mainly so that people could be aware of the pitfalls when they are supporting friends grieving the loss of a pregnancy and baby.
I asked the grief and loss community that I am a part of for their thoughts as well and this is what we came up with:
- What did you do to lose the baby?
- Was it even really a baby?
- Well, it wasn’t like you were really pregnant
- It is best, cos there was something wrong with it
- That is sad. So in other news, I’m pregnant
- Oh well, get the operation done and you can move on
- At least you can get pregnant
- Yeah, I know what you are going through. I thought I was pregnant last week, but the test was negative
- We think that if you tell people before 12 weeks that it is fate you lose the baby
- Look at it this way, if they survived something worse would have probably happened to them
- We get it, you lost two kids. Other people have more important shit going on
- Be grateful you have XXX, you could have no babies/Be thankful for the children you have
- You’re still young
- Everything happens for a reason
- I know how you feel, when my cat died…
- Well at least you weren’t that far along/Since you weren’t too far along, you shouldn’t be that upset
- It wasn’t your time
- Maybe you were under to much stress/it was your own fault as you work too hard.
- I guess you weren’t meant to have a baby right now
- Everything happens for a reason
- The doctors classic “we see this happen to a lot of women, it’s pretty common.”
- It was God’s will
- Your kids are older, aren’t you glad that you don’t have to start all over again
- Well could you IMAGINE having 3 kids?! (Yes, yes I can)
- Just get over it
- Why can’t you come to events? You need to stop punishing other people
- You talk about her too much. People don’t want to hear about her all the time
- Are you sure you were really pregnant in the first place?
- Should I feel validated now for not liking you being pregnant?
- Aaaw, at least you won’t have morning sickness anymore?
- Oh, just WAIT for your first period!
- Well, that’s life
- Can we just get on with life already?
- People are dying every day in Africa
- This is what happens when you don’t use protection
- Get over it, already
- At least you proved everyone wrong who said you couldn’t get pregnant
I mean, come on, some of these things were just cruel and yes, people have actually said these things to grieving men and women.
You aren’t just grieving a baby, you are grieving the pregnancy you won’t experience, the promise of the future, everything that little person could have been. And you loved its being from the moment you saw the test turn positive.
Everyone does handle their loss differently, some are so very private and do not want to talk about it at all; others want to talk exhaustively about it. Take the lead from the person experiencing the loss, and if they want to talk you don’t actually have to say anything, just be there for them.
I hope this helps some of you wondering how to be there for a friend when they need it and I will work on a list of helpful things that were also said that might be food for thought.