8 Things to Say When Someone Has a Miscarriage

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Words are powerful and what you say to your friend or family member after a miscarriage can leave a lasting impression. Even if you've suffered a pregnancy loss yourself, it can be hard to know what to say when someone you love has a miscarriage. You want to say the right thing, but you just aren't sure what that is.

If you find yourself in this situation, you are not alone. With as many as 15% of known pregnancies ending with a miscarriage, almost everyone knows at least one person who has experienced pregnancy loss. Finding the right words to express your sorrow and offer comfort doesn't get any easier though. But, with these tips, you can learn what to say, what to avoid, and how to give your loved one the space to grieve. Here are some things you can say.

I'm So Sorry

When you hear that your friend or family member has suffered a miscarriage, you need to offer your condolences. Typically, saying "I'm sorry," or "I'm here for you if you want to talk," are the best things you can say to someone struggling with loss. You also can ask questions like, "How do you feel?" in order to encourage her to open up.

But don't force your loved one to share if she's not ready.

Instead, follow her lead. Some women will share everything while others just want you to sit with them and hold their hand. Meanwhile, other women don't want to talk or be around people. They may withdraw from friends and family, preferring solitude. If your loved one is pulling away, it may be her way of coping. Allow her space and don't try to force her to talk before she's ready.

I'm Listening

If your loved one does want to talk, let her know you're listening. Also, try to keep an open mind and an open heart. Don't discourage your friend from sharing her thoughts and emotions—even if she says the same things over and over again. Not only do some people find this type of talking therapeutic, but it also may be their way of processing such a painful experience. Be willing to sit with her and listen as long as your schedule allows.

I Don't Know

If your loved one asks, "Why did this happen?" don't try to answer the question. She may not even want an answer. Instead, respond with: "I don't know. I am so sorry this happened." Also, refrain from offering advice or saying something like "maybe there was something wrong with the baby," or "your body was just doing its job." These types of comments are not comforting. And the truth is, you really don't know what happened. Even most doctors don't know why the majority of miscarriages occur. Keep your focus on comforting her and listening instead.

You're Not to Blame

The only time you should interrupt your loved one while she's talking is if she starts blaming herself. Gently remind her that she is not to blame for the miscarriage. While it's not uncommon for women to feel a sense of shame, guilt, or even self-blame after a miscarriage, you need to reassure her that she did nothing to deserve this loss. Be thoughtful, compassionate, and empathetic.

Likewise, encourage your friend to be gentle with herself, not to push too hard, and to take time to care for her body.

Your Feelings Matter

Every woman is different. Consequently, each person will experience a miscarriage in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Likewise, there is no set amount of time to grieve the loss of a pregnancy. For this reason, be careful not to tell loved ones what they should feel or when they should be moving on. Support her regardless of what her feelings look like. If your loved one is starting to display signs of depression, you could gently suggest that she talk with her doctor about her feelings.

You also can contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on depression and treatment in your area.

I'm Thinking of You

Consider sending a card or flowers to let her know you're thinking of her. Remember that your friend or family member has lost a child and be sensitive to that fact. Don't minimize the loss or assume her grief will dissipate quickly. Most likely, she started to envision her child and likely feels that she lost a baby, not just a pregnancy. It may be a while before she feels like herself again. So, try to check in with your loved one regularly. Ask how she's feeling, if she wants to talk, or if she needs anything.

I Have Something for You

It's also a good idea to offer practical help—like a home-cooked meal, a gift card for her favorite takeout, or even a warm cup of tea. Remember, it can be hard for people to ask for help even when they need it. So, bring dinner over one night so she doesn't have to cook. Or, if she has other children, offer to watch them so she can have some alone time. You could even offer to accompany her to any followup doctor's appointments if her partner cannot make it. Be the type of friend you might imagine you would want if you were in the same situation.

I Haven't Forgotten You

Most people reach out right away when someone has a miscarriage, but then go about their lives. It's important that you continue to check in with your friend or family member and make sure they are doing OK.

There is no set time that someone will grieve and things may actually get worse before they get better.

Check in periodically with a quick call or text message. Ask if she needs anything, if she wants to talk, or if she would like to grab coffee. Pretending like her grief doesn't exist or that she should be over it by now is insensitive and inconsiderate.

A Word From Verywell

Even if you feel uncomfortable, awkward, and completely outside of your element, you still need to say something to your friend. Ignoring the issue or pretending like it doesn't exist is more painful than saying the wrong thing. Be there for your loved one as best as you can. Most likely, she will be reeling and in shock for a while. But years from now, she will look back on this time and remember your love and your support.

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

  2. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What are the causes of and risks for pregnancy loss? Updated September 1, 2017.