“I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.” – What to Say When a Woman has a Miscarriage

Death.  It’s not a topic that we, as a society, are very comfortable talking about.  And the death of an unborn baby or an infant seem to be even more taboo.  There are no words that can take away the pain of losing a baby.  So, what do you say to someone who had a miscarriage and just lost the most precious part of their life?

I asked local moms who lost a baby what they found helpful and hurtful during this difficult time and compiled their responses.  It is important to remember that everyone processes grief differently.  The overarching message from the women I spoke with who had a miscarriage was that they wanted their baby to be acknowledged and space to grieve.

Some things that were helpful to women who had a miscarriage:

  • “It was helpful just for someone to listen to me.”
  • “Honestly, just saying ‘I’m sorry,’ and offering a hug or asking if I needed anything is what I preferred at the time.”
  • “I think the best thing anyone could say is, ‘I’m here for you.’”
  • “My boss wrote me a card saying she knows I’m hurting and if I need anything to let her know. I bawled my eyes out because it meant so much!”
  • “I just wanted to know it wasn’t something I did, that it happens pretty often, and that I was allowed to deal with it however I needed to.”
  • “Just saying that they are there to listen is positive and then respecting what we say or choose not to say. And leaving it at that.”
  • “I appreciated someone asking how I was and then just leaving it at that. This way I could avoid talking about it unless I wanted to mention anything.”
  • “Say my baby’s name when you can.”
  • “I wanted people to acknowledge the baby existed.”
  • “It was helpful to just have people check in on me and see if I needed anything. Having friends over for a laugh helped, too.”
  • “I wanted people to acknowledge she existed and she was a person who was growing inside of me. She would have been 11 years old this Christmas.”

Some things that were hurtful to women who had a miscarriage:

  • When people told me everything happens for a reason I wanted to punch them. You don’t say that to someone who just lost their baby”
  • “Some said that at least I had a child already. True, I had already been blessed, but it doesn’t negate the loss of another child.”
  • “It bothered me when people would say, ‘it’s not uncommon; don’t feel bad.’”
  • “I hated that people would tell me that at least I wasn’t that far along because I was 2-3 months pregnant. As soon as you find out you have an attachment and it’s still a loss.”
  • “Things I’ve been told after my miscarriages: ‘you’re young and you still have time to try again,’ ‘you must have been stressed,’ and the ever common ‘things were meant to be.’
  • “Don’t ask me how I am doing. The answer is s****y.  I’m terrible, but I’ll tell you I’m ok because it’s instinct.”
  • “Do you worry it will happen again?”
  • “You can just have another one.”
  • “Oh well, don’t worry, there will be more babies…that in no way replaces the little girl we lost.”

miscarriage remembrance15-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.  Although miscarriages are most common in the first trimester, they can happen at any time during pregnancy, for a number of reasons.  Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is an organization that provides remembrance photography for families who lose a baby later in their pregnancy or after birth, forever preserving the precious time these families have together.

Did you have a miscarriage or lose your baby shortly after birth?  If you’re comfortable, tell us about your baby: what is your baby’s name? How old would he or she be?


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