For such a taboo topic, it might surprise you to learn that miscarriages are not uncommon. It’s estimated that up to 26% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, yet the topic of miscarriage is still considered not acceptable for normal conversation. This means that any woman suffering the loss of her child might be suffering this tragedy in secret or with minimal support.
But if miscarriage is so prevalent, why is it still so taboo? One reason is that 80% of miscarriages happen in the first trimester, which means that many women may not have even told anyone that they’re pregnant yet. Consequently, it’s even more awkward to announce a miscarriage, so the couple keeps their loss to themselves. Another reason may be that when a woman shares that she has miscarried, the response is less than helpful, giving the impression that people and society in general don’t care or don’t know how to help.
So how can we walk with our friend during this time in a way that is both respectful and compassionate? What words of comfort can we offer at a time when no words are sufficient?
What To Say When Your Friend Has a Miscarriage
No matter how early in the pregnancy, the loss of a child is painful and difficult to bear. As the parent, your friend naturally wants to protect her child, but there is often very little or nothing at all she can do to prevent or stop a miscarriage. About 70% of miscarriages occur because of a problem with the baby’s chromosomes – meaning there is nothing anyone can do.
Your friend is grieving the loss of her baby, as well as all her hopes and dreams of what life with this child would look like. In addition to losing her already loved baby, your friend might be burdened by a sense of a lack of control and even feelings of guilt, like her body failed both her and her child.
Your friend’s grief is real and deserves to be treated as such.
Your friend’s grief is real and deserves to be treated as such. Her child was special, precious, loved, and unrepeatable, and deserves to be treated and remembered as such. Our responses to her situation need to reflect that.
Don’t say things like “Oh, it was such an early miscarriage,” or “Focus on the other children you do have,” or “Don’t worry, you’ll get pregnant again quickly.” These statements might sound like they should comfort her, but really, they just diminish your friend’s pain and the value of the unique child whom she already loved.
So what would be a good response when your friend tells you she has miscarried her baby? Here are some options:
“I’m so sorry for your loss! I know words can’t cover the depth of your pain and sorrow, but I also know your baby was already so loved and cherished.”
“I’m so sorry this is happening to you! I can only imagine how hard it is. I’ll be praying for you.”
“I’m so sorry! Can I give you a hug? Do you want to talk about it?”
“I’m so sorry for your loss! Take all the time you need to grieve and heal. I’m here for you through it all.”
“I’m so sorry! This must be so hard for you! It’s okay if you’re not okay.”
“I’m not sure what to say or do, but I am here for you and I am so sorry.”
“My heart goes out to you as you grieve for the baby you were so looking forward to meeting. I’ll be thinking of both of you in the days and weeks ahead and checking in to see if there’s anything helpful I can do.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss! Would you like help with anything right now, like a meal?”
If your friend wants to talk about her loss, listen to her. Affirm that her sorrow is valid and that her child is worth remembering. You can suggest that she name her baby and keep or make some kind of memento. Some women keep their ultrasound pictures and hospital bracelet. Others might feel more comfortable planting a rose bush or buying a special piece of jewelry as a way to remember.
When we “do life” together, it makes the good things sweeter and the hard things a little easier to bear.
You can also acknowledge that the grieving process can be long, winding, and even be triggered at unexpected moments, so you are always willing to support your friend in future moments of sadness. Furthermore, if you yourself have had a miscarriage, it will likely comfort your friend to know that she isn’t alone in her experience.
Your response to your friend’s news of her miscarriage can greatly help her cope with her loss, so even if you feel inadequate in the moment, offering her genuine words of empathy and support will be greatly appreciated.
True friendship is accompanying our friends on life’s journey, no matter if it takes us up the hills of happiness or down into the valleys of grief. When we “do life” together, it makes the good things sweeter and the hard things a little easier to bear.
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