Don’t know if this is the right forum or not, but seems like an opinion thing, so here goes.
I grot an e-mail from a friend today saying his wife had a miscarriage and they are both sad, etc. I’ve never known anyone who miscarried before. What do you think is the best thing to say in the situation?
I was thinking “I’m really sorry to hear that” but that seems kind of obvious. What else? “Let me know if there’s anything I can do” seems silly, because unlike someone’s parent passing away, there doesn’t really seem to be much to do.
You say “I’m so sorry for your loss.” And if he’s a good friend, you add “If you need to talk, you have my number.” There isn’t much you can do, but acknowledging that their grief is real will be a great comfort.
Please DO NOT say anything that states or implies “Hey, you can always make another.”
Obviously it matters a lot from person to person, but some things i’ve heard. I work in an organization where we come across a lot of women who’ve had miscarriages.
[li] Don’t act like the baby didn’t exist. The parents probably don’t want to see it ignored.[/li][li] flodnak is right. Don’t imply that they can make another! Ever! [/li][li] Understand that to them, their loss is great. Even if it may not be to you.[/li][li] Try to be there for them. I know it’s hard, but a lot of people run for the hills because they don’t know what to say. I don’t see harm in saying, “I don’t know how to comfort you, but anything I can do to help, please tell me.”[/li][li] Cook some food and bring it over. I find this good in every scenario, almost.[/li][/ul]
I’m so sorry for your loss.
Is there anything you need?
Is there anything I can do?
There may well be things that they need help with:
telling other friends, so they don’t have to do it themselves
clearing baby things out of what would have been a nursery (they might find it too painful to do themselves)
a hot meal brought to their house
cleaning their house (arrive with flowers and offer to do any household chores that need doing)
their favourite DVD to cheer them up
being taken out of the house
the name of a good counsellor
Play to your strengths. If you’re good at being a shoulder to cry on, do that, if you’d be better at more practical things, do that.
Between our third and fourth children, my wife had a miscarriage and then a stillborn child (about 20-24 weeks into the pregnancy). We still have a picture of that stillborn child, and our now grown-up daughter (with three brothers) still sometimes talks about her as the sister she never got to have.
It would have been worse if we hadn’t already had children, and it’s certainly not as bad as the death of an infant. However, there probably isn’t much you can do except commiserate, and offer any help that you can.
I’d generally keep to “I’m really sorry to hear that”
I would have felt wierd if a hot meal was offered, but she certainly was allowed a couple girls night outs after it happened. A cold beer sounded pretty good to her after a couple months of none. Expect drunken bawling and questions of the “What is wrong with me” nature. A shoulder to cry on is the best and most you should offer IMHO. Don’t play it up, but don’t play it down. Let them call the emotion of the moment, because there will be hormones involved and emotions will change by the moment.
Sorry to hear that. I’m here if you need something done. “Don’t offer if you’ll feel put out, it’s hard to ask a favour.” Realise that they need some alone time also. Don’t call them a lot. getting a hundred calls in a couple days is very stressful.
Don’t say at least you have “other kids’s name here”.
Don’t ramble on because of akward silence, odds are something stupid will come out of your mouth. Let stupid things said by others pass, only talk to them alone about it if you must.
I had an early miscarriage two months ago, and the comments I hated the most were “Well, it obviously just wasn’t meant to be.” or “Well, that means there was probably something wrong with the baby.”.
All I wanted was an “I’m so sorry, let me know if you need anything.”. I didn’t need pseudo-comforting words about how it wasn’t meant to be or how my baby had something wrong with it. That just made me even more angry and sad than I already was.
I could make you a long, long list of things you shouldn’t say but I’ll spare you.
The suggestions here so far are right on target. I’d also add that while it’s good to offer a shoulder to cry on you might also offer to keep things light and not dwell on things.
When I lost my two daughters (in infancy, not by miscarriage) what I really wanted after a while was for people to treat me like normal and not like I was fragile and needed to be handled with kid gloves. I was fragile but being treated that way only made it worse. I coped better when it was just business as usual most of the time and saved my grief when it was appropriate.
I agree with all the advice given here and would add this to it:
NEVER imply that “it could’ve been worse.” Believe it or not, many well-meaning people do this. When I lost a baby at about two months gestation (ruptured ectopic), more than once I heard that at least I hadn’t been far enough along to feel the baby move, or that I hadn’t lost it after it was born. That really hurt. I didn’t have any children and I’d waited a long time to be able to get pregnant and I felt like a major failure. Even though these words were intended to comfort somehow, they made me feel as though my pain wasn’t fully valid (and I’d gone through a terrible time–ectopic had been undiagnosed, then it ruptured, emergency surgery and a difficult recovery followed–and I’d lost the baby, to boot). I learned later, after having three children, that, yes, it really would’ve been harder to bear if I’d been further along in the pregnancy or had lost one in childhood. Love for that baby grows stronger every day. But just because something could always be worse? That shouldn’t invalidate a person’s pain.
Just say what you’re thinking. They really don’t give prizes for creativity in these situations. If “I’m sorry” is the best way to say what you’re thinking, go with it. It’ll come reasonably naturally, I think. And to second what other people are saying, listening is probably more important than any individual thing you’ll say. That’s the best way to avoid saying anything you’d really regret. That’s my experience, anyway.