(And 7 Examples Of What To Say Instead)
Guest post by Clara Aguilar
Pregnancy loss is a harsh reality faced by many couples trying to conceive. Whether a couple suffers a miscarriage, experiences a stillbirth or premature birth, the feelings of loss are difficult to cope with. Angel parents are often unaware of how to begin to heal and in the midst of their grief, friends and family standing by their side will provide words of encouragement and support. Well, at least they think they do.
A baby loss is hard for everyone and sometimes the people surrounding us mean well but sadly end up saying all the wrong things or even pretty messed up things that have me thinking “Did they really just say that?” But don’t worry, I got you! Below is a list of 7 things not to say to couples who are mourning the loss of a baby with some examples of what to say instead.
1. DO NOT SAY: “But your still young, you will have more babies.”
I understand, this statement is an attempt at a glass half full kind of a statement, but does it make parents feel better? Not necessarily. Think about it. What if it’s an older couple whose been trying to conceive for many years? Does having more babies help parents with their baby loss now? No. Instead, offer words of sympathy and encouragement.
INSTEAD SAY: “I’m sorry for your loss and will pray for future babies.”
2. DO NOT SAY: “You’ll feel better when you have another.”
If you tell the parents of an angel baby that having another child will help get rid of these feelings of grief, you are sadly mistaken and diminishing the pain angel parents are feeling about the loss of their baby. A child is a living being, who cannot be replaced by anything or anyone else. I believe it’s more helpful to focus on the baby being mourned.
INSTEAD SAY: “ We will miss angel baby _____ very much.”
3. DO NOT SAY: “Everything happens for a reason.”
Even if the pregnancy loss isn’t recent, implying that the loss happened for a reason can be very painful. Is there a “good” reason to suffer a pregnancy loss? No. This statement was very frustrating to hear when my loss was recent. Even, as a believer in God, I just couldn’t understand or accept this concept. As I held on to my faith, months later in my grief, I was able to understand and come to terms with the fact that my daughter Sofia, had a purpose to fulfill, which she did in her short time here on earth. Knowing this in my heart allowed me to accept her passing. My honest suggestion is to stay away from this phrase altogether, because you don’t know where the parents are in their healing process and these words can hurt rather than help.
INSTEAD SAY: “Hold onto your faith, God is with you in your pain. I am here for you too.”
4. DO NOT SAY: “At least you have a child(ren) already.”
Already having children doesn’t make losing a pregnancy or baby any easier. It actually makes it more difficult because now the couple must try to be brave for their kids who will also be mourning a sibling. It’s important that people understand that this kind of statement does not console a parent, but instead makes it seem like the baby loss is less meaningful. Of course, I understand what is meant by saying this, but I think it’s better to offer your help instead.
INSTEAD SAY: “If you ever feel overwhelmed by your baby loss , I am here for you and the kids.”
5. DO NOT SAY: “So, are you planning to try again?”
For someone who has been trying to conceive for years, this can be a very difficult question to answer. Even more so after experiencing a recent baby loss. The person asking usually has well-intentions but doesn’t realize the pain the woman or parents are going through at the moment. I suggest steering clear of this question completely because it’s really nobody’s business, especially if you don’t know the couple very well. If you don’t agree, then don’t be surprised if their response is something you may not have expected leading to an a-aawkward silence.
INSTEAD SAY: Anything else. Really.
6. DO NOT SAY: “You should adopt.”
This comment hit me like a ton of bricks when a family member suggested it. I know they were just trying to be helpful, but after a long holiday weekend of emotional triggers which caused me to miss my Sofia, this was the last thing I wanted to hear. Remember, you don’t know if the parents who just suffered a pregnancy loss are ready to take that step. Instead, I would follow their lead. If the couple mentions adoption, then you can assume it’s safe to mention it. But it’s important to understand that when a woman is trying to get pregnant, this can be very hurtful as it seems like people are just trying to FIX them. You can’t have a baby? Just adopt. NO! Adopting is a big step and should not be decided casually. Parents must be ready.
INSTEAD SAY: ”How are you guys feeling? Holding up?”
7.DO NOT SAY: “ Did you do something to cause the loss?”
Asking this insensitive question automatically assumes that the mother either didn’t care for the fetus or was purposely trying to sabotage her pregnancy. Can we all agree, this is a stupid question? Just sayin’. I understand people are just trying to help but I think there are different ways to help than pointing a finger and blaming a mother who just lost a baby. Instead offer support in the mother’s time of grief.
INSTEAD SAY: “I’m sorry for your loss, I am here if you need anything.”
Some of you may be guilty of saying one or more of these things to an angel parent and are thinking you only meant well. While this is understandable, it’s important to put yourself in their shoes. Words have power and can be hurtful even if it’s not your intention. I hope this list has been helpful. Please share any additional thoughts you may have regarding what not to say to couples who’ve experienced a pregnancy loss.
About the Author
Clara is the creator of Bloom Where You Are Planted, an online blog that supports parents through pregnancy loss. She is married to her best friend Rafa, and together they are parents to three angel babies. She is a Christ loving, crafty cupcake enthusiast who has a passion for helping others on their journey to parenthood. Contact Clara by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or following her on Instagram @bloomwyapblog.