What/what not to say when someone has lost a baby.

Anytime someone loses a loved one, it can be difficult to find the ‘right’ words, and the loss of a child is no different.

I remember feeling that if I didn’t have something to say that would cheer the griever up, that I shouldn’t really say anything.  And often I would just keep my distance and stay quiet.

After losing my own daughter, however (and I know everyone is different and may not agree with me), I actually loved to talk about my little Briela!

If someone asked me what her eye color was, I would light up and go into full detail.  Her life had so much value, and I don’t want her forgotten.  And one way to keep her ‘alive’ is to talk about her.

One thing for certain, though, is to not, I repeat DO NOT try to make light of the loss.

After my miscarriage, a lot of people tried to cheer me up with words like “It was probably for the best”, “It happened for a reason”, “At least you know you can get pregnant”, etc. At that point, all I wanted was my baby – I didn’t care if she wasn’t developed properly, I just wanted her here with me!

I think that because miscarriages are so common, or maybe because people can’t actually ‘see’ you pregnant with a belly, they think the baby didn’t have as much worth as a full-term one, but to a mother who has already started bonding with this little life, this baby is as real as any baby.  A loss is a loss.

The best thing to say to someone who has had a miscarriage is “I’m sorry!”, “This sucks!”, “Let me know if you need anything.”, “I’m bringing you some ice cream!”  This person’s hopes have been crushed, they just need a shoulder to cry on or a pillow to punch, they don’t need to know that they are now better off.

Let the person grieve.  Don’t try to take them out of this grieving period prematurely by telling them it’s all good and that they need to move on with their life.  That’s for them to decide, not you.

After losing my daughter Briela who was born alive but died a few hours later, I received a lot less ‘light’ comments.  I think because she was a tangible baby that people could actually see, they treated her life as more important… sadly.

I never heard anyone say “It’s for the best.” or “At least you know you can get pregnant.”  I mostly heard people tell me how sorry they were.  Some opened up and shared their own stories of their own losses.

I feel like in my losing a baby, a lot of women found freedom in releasing their own heart or grief.  And on that note, while some may argue that what I’m about to share is inappropriate, I appreciated it!  While still in the hospital recovering after Briela passed, I had a couple friends come in and just talk.  We ended up discussing their own troubles, completely unrelated to babies or death, and grieving over those things.

It felt really good to take the heaviness of my own grief off my shoulders, and comfort others who needed comforting.

I was at the point of being overwhelmed with comfort from others, so to turn it around and give it to someone else, was a really good and refreshing feeling.  It was actually one of the highlights of my whole hospital stay.

For me personally, there might not be a ‘right’ or ‘proper’ thing to say to someone who has lost a loved one, but there are a few things to consider when talking to them.

  • Don’t make light of the situation
  • Share your heart and be real
  • Don’t keep your distance, but don’t overstep your welcome
  • If you don’t know what to say, simply say “Sorry” or “This sucks”

I’ve read another blogger who went through a loss, and she mentioned an idea of what to say, and although there were disagreements among her readers, I personally loved it!

She said to say “Congrats” for the baby they had lost.  I probably wouldn’t recommend saying congrats in the scenario of a miscarriage – as that would be offensive, but if a baby was born and had life, I think it’s actually a really good feeling to have someone recognize the life of your precious little one, not just their death.

I remember my aunt had come to visit a couple weeks after we lost Briela.  We had a great heart-to-heart, and during our conversation she said “I think that’s awesome you had a daughter!” and she was genuinely happy for us.

It took me by surprise, since no one had ventured into a comment like this, and it felt really good!  That moment was a reminder of how proud of my little girl I was and how she was a part of our family.

However you decide to approach a loved one after they suffered a loss, please follow your heart and consider the immense emotions that your friend/family member is experiencing.

Just your presence is comfort enough sometimes 🙂