What NOT to say to a woman who has suffered a miscarriage or infant loss

There is a club that no one wants to be a part of and only members know how expensive the dues are.
 Just starting this article my stomach is in knots and my eyes are getting misty.

I don’t just write this about myself or my experience. I write this having heard the painful stories of many woman, who like me, have had their heart broken by joining “The Club.”  I am not referring to the type of broken heart that occurs when a dating relationship ends, I am referring to the type of broken heart that happens when you lose a baby. The type of pain that almost kills you.

My husband and I were soooooo excited about our 1st pregnancy that we made a video that literally went viral and got thousands of hits before I had even seen a Dr. This was the best and worst thing that happened to me after my miscarriage.

{announcement video}

My first ultrasound at 9 weeks was very anticlimactic. The tech felt I wasn’t as far along as I had originally thought and told me not to worry about the fact that we couldn’t find a heartbeat. When we walked out of that room I felt like I was literally dragging my heart with me it was so heavy. I was worried but I’m a professional worrier so I convinced myself everything was fine. We were scheduled to see a specialist 2 weeks later and I was so excited to finally see my little baby that I practically bounced into the ultrasound room. I had no idea that by the end of that appointment they would basically be carrying me out. Again, we had an ultrasound and the tech said I wasn’t as far along as I had thought. I looked at my mom pleading with her to help me make sense of it. Her face said it all. The tech said she was going to get the Dr and left the room. I tried to hold onto the hope that my baby was fine and everything would be cleared up once the Dr checked me. He was stern, matter of fact and delivered the news that I had miscarried and my baby needed to come out as soon as possible because of the risk of infection. He told me off for texting my husband while he was talking to me and left the room, shattering my dreams as he disappeared to more important matters. The rest of the day was a blur of pain, deep pain and my husband holding me while I sobbed. He cried with me that day and I will never forget his love and strength in my rawest moment. I was so mad at my body for letting me down and desperately wanted my miscarriage to happen naturally. I hated the idea of a D&C (a surgical procedure also known as dilation and curettage) and waited over a week before the physiological aspect started to get to me. Maybe there is still hope? Maybe the baby is alive? I ended up having a D&C and realized to avoid countless painful conversations, I now had to inform everyone I was no longer pregnant. I posted online late one night that we would have to wait until we got to Heaven to meet our baby and the instant outpouring of love was insane. Hundreds of people contacted me and shared that I was not alone. To be honest, I didn’t realize how “common” (OHHHHH I HATE THAT TERM) it was until I shared my experience so publicly. Funny enough, the people who touched my broken heart the most were not my closest friends or even my beloved family. It was strangers who spoke right to my pain and told me they knew it. The Dead Baby Club is one in which you don’t choose to join, you just find yourself in it. What someone who has not joined The Club cannot grasp is that; it doesn’t matter “how far along” you were. From the second I saw that + result on the pregnancy test I was a mom, I had a baby, my life was forever changed. I had plans and a future with this child. But then all of a sudden it was all taken from me and I was left wondering if I was even able to have children. One day I asked my husband “will this pain ever go away?” His response that day forever changed me. He said “No it wont, but you have to make a choice to keep going.” He didn’t say “move on” or “get over it” he simply said, “keep going.” I can speak for all “Club Moms” when I say, life can stop when you are mourning and its almost bizarre to you that others continue on while you are in a state of personal unravel. His words broke through my mourning that day and reminded me that I couldn’t stay there, I had to continue. That didn’t mean I had to leave my experience or my baby behind but it meant I couldn’t die there too. A part of you does die when you lose someone you love but I was reminded that there was still a lot left of me and that part could still be of use to this world.

I am honored that so many women have shared their Club stories with me. Stories that break my heart all over again. Stories of moms who have had multiple miscarriages, lost full term babies, infants ,toddlers, teens & adult children. You see, age doesn’t matter, you child is your child. It is the most un-natural thing in the world to lose a child and I want to speak out for every Mom out there who aches with longing and holds tightly to the belief that one glorious day they will be re-united in Heaven with the missing piece of their heart.

So here we go……….

What NOT to say to a mother who has lost a child:

(put together by a community of women who have joined The Club)

I can’t tell you how many well-meaning people said things to me that shredded my heart.

Most importantly, I would like to say, if you do not have any experience with loss: DON’T TRY TO GIVE ADVICE, just be an open ear.

1-    It was God’s plan

2-    You can just try again

3-    It is for the best

4-    Everything happens for a reason

5-    At least you weren’t very far along

6-    God doesn’t give you more than you can handle

7-    Be grateful for the children you already have

8-    You still have so much to be thankful for (can also apply to infertility issues)

9-    God needed him more than you did

10- I can only imagine what you are going through

 

What to do:

One of the most touching phone calls came from a friend who just called and said “Krystle, I don’t know what to say. I’m so sorry” and then just burst into tears on the other end and we cried together. That was so real and so comforting that I have never forgotten that call. (Thank you Tammy C.)

1-   Listen: she may tell you the same story100x, just listen.

2-   Do: meet the families practical needs (help with food, cleaning, medical bills, etc) offer to make personal keepsakes such as sewing clothing into a blanket or make a scrapbook BUT do not do anything physical without asking her first. Some find certain items too painful to touch or allow others to touch.

3-   Share: A mother who has lost a child wants to know that their baby will not be forgotten. Share your favorite memories with her, send her cards on birthdays and holidays and let her know you are remembering her child with her.

4-  Wait: Grief is unpredictable and has no timetable. Be patient with her and never ever tell her to “move on.” Just do your best to walk with her in the valley.

 

Thank you for walking with me,

Krystle K.
15 Comments
  1. […] Need | Dear Single MomFavorite Article: The article that has always tugged at my heart strings is What NOT to say to a woman who has suffered a miscarriage or infant loss. Favorite Community Thread: It is actually one that turned into an article called “Beautiful […]

  2. […] Need | Dear Single MomFavorite Article: The article that has always tugged at my heart strings is What NOT to say to a woman who has suffered a miscarriage or infant loss. Favorite Community Thread: It is actually one that turned into an article called “Beautiful […]

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  5. Amy Hunt January 9, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Krystle, I, too, experienced a loss that I didn’t expect; though, my mother had her own experiences with miscarriages so I was always sensitive to it. My loss was past the first trimester and “well into” the second and it was so not expected (discovered in a routine ultrasound when there simply was no beating heart). I was induced and had to deliver, and truthfully that was the most horrid experience I’ve ever (yet) faced. I’ve not talked about it with hardly anyone and firmly and immediately pushed away all my friends by declaring this to be off the table in terms of ever talking about it. I wish they didn’t listen to me and I wish I didn’t feel so alone. I, also, faced so many people saying it was “common” and that was about the most horrible thing ever because it just made me feel belittled and I felt shame for being sad. I especially felt shame when I thought about the women who experience loss even later than I did and who deliver full-term only to lose; hearing about those made me stand up taller, take a huge gulp of breath and force myself to believe I was okay.

    No one understood how I felt. And it was my friends and family who I needed most but they just didn’t get how I felt. One day my mother told me to “get over it” and it was the worst thing she could have said. After being so angry at her for quite awhile, I finally realized that my relationship with her was more important and so I decided that maybe she was right. Still, it’s affected me through the years (both her words and especially the loss).

    I’ve finally (?) accepted that this was simply God’s will, I’ve thanked Him for the beauty that’s come of it, and for the ways He’s given me His peace. I’ve talked with my son about the “baby sister” I lost (who he never would know anyway because he wouldn’t be here with us if she lived). And I’ve decided to loosen my grip on the fear that holds me back and just choose to trust God has it all.

    The hardest losses sometimes are because we are gripped so tight with control or definite assurance that we know what’s going to happen or how things are going to turn out. When we’re faced with the reality that we truly DON’T know and HE is ultimately the one in control. we are humbled . . . and it is then when He can reach deep into our heart with His love.

    It is really important, I think, for women to talk about this; to talk out all the feelings and to find someone who does *get* them and who doesn’t compare. And I’m not saying to find a woman whose been there; I’m saying just to find a woman who lets another talk about her story and who just listens and who prays and who is standing in the arena of the pain with her friend, as a friend. Your post is really great in helping other women, hopefully, to learn to be that friend. And to give some awareness to those who haven’t experienced this that a friend is truly what’s needed, no matter how much the other pushes her away.

    #GreatWords #BeautyHere

  6. Julia May 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks Krystle, unfortunately I entered this club. It was such a lonely place to be. Everyone seemed to avoid talking to me because they did not know what to say and when they did it was always something on the not to say list. I was told I had to have a D & C and would have to until the following week. When the Friday came there was no way I could go over the weekend with everyone asking me was I having a boy or a girl due to the size of my belly, it was way too much to bear. I went to my OB/GYN and told them I could not make it through the weekend, luckily I had the best OB/GYN and she took me down for surgery that day. Each year the due date comes and goes as does the loss date and tears are always shed. I have an older daughter and a younger son and I have to take comfort in knowing that my son came along to ease the pain….. Those 13 years seem like yesterday… Thank you for sharing your story which I know in turn will help others that are faced with the same challenges on either side.

  7. Nicholette April 30, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Out of all the articles, this one grabbed my attention the most. I sat with a friend of mine in the hospital the day after her loss. I didn’t know what to say, I just sat there with her in the room and we cried together. We cried for the baby, for the loss and for her broken heart. I recall just praying in silence that God would give me the words, because I was clueless. He never gave me the words to say, just tears to cry with her and I think that was my answer, to say nothing, just to simply be there and cry with her.
    Thanks for sharing your story, I think at some point as women we will either experience this or know someone that has. Your story gives wonderful ways to show support.

  8. Ashlee Berchen April 22, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I LOVE the idea of sending a card or calling the mama on the child’s birthday. So sweet!

  9. Tara Jackson April 22, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Thank you so much for writing such a thoughtful article and sharing your story.

  10. Niki Rose April 22, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I think every person should read this article! I am also part of this club, after 7 years an d2 more children later I’m still not over the loss.

  11. Terri Hale April 22, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Thanks, Krystle. This is beautiful. I’m so proud of you.

  12. Alison April 22, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Thank you for this article. I unfortunately had to join this club more than once before I had my beautiful girl and boy that I now have. Many people don’t know what to say. Sometimes I wished they hadn’t said certain things and maybe just listened or even a hug would have been good.

  13. Morgan April 22, 2013 at 7:16 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I do not know what this experience is like, and if it happened to a friend I would not really know what to say. This definitely helps, knowing what NOT to say, and suggestions on what would be good ways to show support. Thank you.