Handling Insensitive Comments After a Miscarriage

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Many people aren't sure what to say to a woman after she suffers a miscarriage. While their intentions may be good, sometimes people say things meant to be comforting which are actually more hurtful than if they'd said nothing

If your partner has had a miscarriage, be ready to intervene to defuse a potentially unpleasant situation.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when your friends or relatives say something that bothers you.

Be Prepared

When people have no personal experience with pregnancy loss, they may have no idea what to say. While it's certainly not incumbent upon the woman who has experienced the loss to educate people about the right thing to say, it's not a bad idea to be prepared in case someone says something upsetting.

Common types of hurtful comments you might hear include:

  • "At least you weren't very far along."
  • "At least you know you can get pregnant."
  • "You can always try again."
  • "It must not have been meant to be."

While such comments are insensitive, they probably aren't made out of malice. You might correct such comments, but it is often easier to simply forgive them and move on.

Give Them the Facts 

If your friend or relative says something to you that isn't true or accurate, let that person know. Try to keep a cool head in correcting misinformation, for your sake more than theirs. Some things to remember:

  • Miscarriages are common; around 15% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.
  • You are not to blame; miscarriage happens for a variety of reasons, many of which are never known.
  • The loss of a pregnancy at any stage leads to feelings of grief.

If someone is insensitive enough to suggest that something you did may have caused the miscarriage, don't be afraid to set them straight. Be blunt if necessary.

There's no reason you have to continue a conversation with a rude person. Remind them you've suffered a loss and tell them you'd prefer not to discuss it further.

Change the Subject

You might not feel like spending the energy to correct someone and obviously, some people will resist being corrected. Although it can be helpful to talk about your feelings after a pregnancy loss, you probably want to stick to discussing the matter with people who listen.

If someone is making insensitive comments or making you feel uncomfortable, there are things that you can do to shift the topic.

  • Tell them you would like to talk about something else.
  • Explain that you are not ready to talk about your loss.
  • Simply change the subject and talk about something different.

Don't be afraid to tell someone, "I'm sorry, but I just don't want to talk about this right now." You are not obligated to relive your grief just to spare someone else's feelings.

Ask an advocate, like a spouse or a sibling, to rescue you from a conversation with someone who's making you feel bad.

Ignore the Comment

Depending on the situation, sometimes the best way to handle comments insensitive comments is to simply ignore them. If you don't feel the energy to correct someone (or if you know your efforts would be futile), just don't respond to the person's comments in a way that will encourage that person to keep talking about the subject.

This doesn't mean that you should simply "smile and nod." This kind of response tends to encourage further engagement in the topic. Or it can communicate approval. Instead, simply keep a neutral face and move on while ignoring the remark.

After a moment, the person will probably switch the subject and talk about something else. If they don't, that's the time to bring in a third party to help give less subtle hints to the offending person. 

Avoid People Who Don't Get It​

It's not always possible to avoid people, but try to choose your company when you can. If you have an obtuse sister-in-law, for example, who you suspect will offer unsolicited and unhelpful comments and advice, it's probably a good idea to avoid her.

Request that other family members intervene on your behalf with the problematic person.

As a sibling, spouse, or parent to warn a person known for saying inappropriate things to conduct themselves with kindness instead of obnoxious and painful questioning. Simply forewarning that individual to avoid the topic can help prevent unwanted comments.

Find Support

While you might run into people who don't know what to say or who say the wrong things, seek support from people who understand what you need and what you need to hear. Friends who have been through a miscarriage, your partner, and other family members can all help you as you cope with your feelings of loss and grief.

Online support groups can also be a helpful source of advice and reassurance. If you are struggling with feelings of grief that are making it difficult to cope or interfering with your daily life, consider talking to your doctor or mental health professional.

A Word From Verywell

People often don't know how to respond after someone has had a miscarriage, which is why such loss often becomes invisible, private grief. Social support is important after you have experienced a loss, so focus on spending time with loved ones who understand. If you are struggling with insensitive comments, ask your partner or another loved one to intercede.

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  1. March of Dimes. Miscarriage. Updated November 2017.