Miscarriage is a topic that isn’t often talked about. When someone you know tells you they’ve had a miscarriage, it can be difficult to know what to say or do to help them through their grieving process.
Thankfully, experts have offered helpful guidance on what to say to someone who has had a miscarriage.
Here are important points to consider:
A miscarriage is categorized as losing a pregnancy prior to 20 weeks gestation. According to the mayo clinic, 10 to 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
The reason behind the discrepancy in percentage points is due to women experiencing a missed miscarriage or having a miscarriage before knowing that they are pregnant.
While that number may seem very high, what it truly means is that a great number of women have experienced a miscarriage, and yet guidance or discussion on how to talk about miscarriage has been sorely ignored.
“I am sorry for your loss”
This phrase is used quite frequently when talking to someone who has lost a loved one.
Losing a pregnancy is a loss. Regardless of the circumstances around the pregnancy, when a person has shared that they have lost a pregnancy due to miscarriage, it is appropriate to express condolences.
- You do not have to expand upon this phrase.
- You do not have to qualify it.
- You do not have to offer platitudes in addition to your condolences.
Sharing that you feel empathy for this human being’s loss is enough.
This is a very good phrase to use if you do not feel comfortable discussing the miscarriage further or are at a loss of what to say, as it acknowledges the loss and the pain behind it without diminishing a person’s experience.
“Is it okay if I call you tomorrow or next week to see how you are doing?”
This ask shows an incredible amount of empathy and kindness for a person suffering a miscarriage. This phrase acknowledges that this loss is not small or something that someone can get over in a short amount of time.
By asking if you can also support this person at a later date, you are sharing that you know that this is a grieving process and that it will take time to move through the feelings of loss and sadness that may accompany a miscarriage.
This also tells the person that they do not need to stop sharing their sadness or their experience, but rather they can process and feel their feelings in their own time.
At times people who suffer a miscarriage can feel forgotten and as though others forget their pain and experience quite quickly. By sharing with this person that you’re open to talking about this more than once, it allows the person to feel very seen and that their loss is valid.
“I am here to listen when you are ready”
There are many ways to say that you are open to supporting a friend who has suffered through a miscarriage. By sharing that you are there to listen, it gives that person an invitation to share their feelings and thoughts about what has just occurred.
Many times, the miscarriage is not talked about and not acknowledged as the deep loss that it is. When you give a grieving person space to talk and process, it allows that person to feel seen and comfortable in the multitude of emotions they may have been feeling.
The word listen also implies that you are safe to speak to without judgment.
Sometimes when someone has suffered a miscarriage, they can feel judged or judge themselves for the deep feelings of loss that they may be experiencing, and just having someone listen without trying to fix the unfixable situation is what is needed.
“I understand what you are going through, and you can share if you are open to it.”
With up to one in five pregnancies ending in a miscarriage, you may have also experienced a miscarriage yourself. Sharing your own story can help the grieving friend feel not so alone.
What is important about this phrase and your own sharing is that you give the person who has suffered a miscarriage an option to listen or to decline at this time.
This person may not be ready to hear another’s story, but offering it allows them to know that they are loved and understood, and there is a place to go and discuss further when they are ready.
It is important not to take it personally if they are not ready to hear your story, as it may be too painful at that time.
It is also essential to check in with yourself to see if you are ready to appropriately share your story without retriggering your own pain too acutely.
Certified Nurse Practitioner, Addictions and Mental Health
Put yourself in her shoes first; understand what she’s going through
When a woman has a miscarriage, she is holistically fragile, and the intensity of her fragility varies in her context.
- Was this an early miscarriage before 12 weeks which is more common and easier for the body to cope with?
- Is she struggling with infertility?
- Is this her first loss? Having more miscarriages doesn’t make it easier it gets harder.
- How far along was she?
Before offering support and advice, look at the whole picture to truly understand what she may be going through.
Physically she is at the very least uncomfortable and likely in physical pain as the miscarriage progresses.
Depending on how far along she is, she may require medical intervention, which usually occurs in a hospital on a maternity ward with lots of live babies and days after she finds out her baby has died.
Can you imagine giving birth to a baby that you know had died? Having said that, psychologically and emotionally, she could be struggling and very likely is.
Research shows that women who have multiple miscarriages have the same symptoms of PTSD.
Psychologically, there are:
- Grief and loss
- Individual and social stigma
After my 6th miscarriage, I was so depressed that when they would check my bloodwork every two days after the miscarriage, which is required, I couldn’t feel the needle enter my skin.
I was numb and in a very dark place. I had all the symptoms of PTSD, and how I felt mentally dictated my life.
Related: How to Help Someone With PTSD
There is no magic word
When a woman has a miscarriage, there is no magic phrase or word that you can use to alleviate all of her pain.
There are some things to say that could help her cope as she processes this loss:
- Be empathetic. Simply saying, “I am sorry for your loss,” can help decrease her distress.
- “How can I help?” or “What can I do to help?” is an open-ended question that gives the power back to the woman and starts the conversation about what she may need at that time.
- “Can I come over and talk?” is part of the healing process of grief and loss and expressing our emotions. Some journal and write their feelings out, while others need to talk out how she is feeling at that moment.
Silence is golden
Everyone processes grief and loss individually, and sometimes the best thing a person can do is not say anything at all.
- Actively listening to her can be exactly what she needs.
- She does not need more advice.
- She does not need to hear, “It will be okay, or you will have a baby one day,” because that might not be true, and it’s invalidating what she is going through at that moment.
- She needs to be heard and feel accepted for what they are at that moment.
- Holding her or hugging her as she cries or vents may be just the ticket.
I prefer to grieve alone in the safety of my home. I wanted and needed to be held as I cried. Sometimes I would call my close friends and just sob on the phone as that is what I needed.
At the end of the day, know that she is struggling holistically and may need you, so simply ask and offer love and support and she will reach out to you when she is ready.
Barbara Rubel, MA, BCETS, DAAETS
Public Speaker and Writer, Griefwork Center, Inc. | Author, “But I Didn’t Say Goodbye: Helping Families After a Suicide“
If you know the baby’s name, say their name while offering condolences
When someone has experienced a miscarriage, friends and families are often at a loss for words. Being empathetic and compassionate, they struggle to say the right thing.
Although the bereaved parent may have never held their baby or shared special moments with them, a miscarriage is a traumatic loss. They grieve for what could have been and experience a “Palette of Grief” with emotional, cognitive, physical, behavioral, religious, and spiritual reactions.
Factors that impact their grief include:
- The unexpectedness
- Sudden nature of the loss
Recognize that grief is a process that ebbs and flows throughout their lifetime
Before you speak with a bereaved parent after a miscarriage, you should recognize that there are no stages in grief and that grief is a process that ebbs and flows throughout their lifetime. This way, you don’t say the wrong thing.
As you consider what to say, recognize that they are experiencing intense emotional pain.
Related: How to Deal with Emotional Pain
They long for their baby and may experience:
- Emotional numbness
Your comments and questions need to remain sympathetic
For that reason, your comments and questions need to remain sympathetic.
- If you know the baby’s name, say their name while offering condolences.
- Always show that you are listening.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Although you might feel anxious, try to relax and don’t interrupt them while they are speaking.
- Never judge them for what they might say or talk them out of their feelings.
Here are a few suggestions:
- “I’m sorry for your loss.”
- “Is there anything I could do for you?”
- “What can I help you with today?”
- “I’m heartbroken for your loss.”
- “This is just so sad.”
- “I’m just checking in with you.”
As the bereaved parents look inward, they might struggle with identity disruption as a part of themselves has died along with their baby. They may have a marked sense of disbelief and avoid reminders of the miscarriage.
They may have difficulty moving on, engaging in ongoing life, or feel as though life is meaningless without their baby.
After a miscarriage, a bereaved parent might have an intuitive or instrumental pattern of grief. Intuitive grievers show their emotions and may cry as you support them.
However, instrumental grievers often do not cry in front of others. Both ways to grieve after a miscarriage are normal and healthy, as everyone grieves in their own way.
When the time is right and they are open to talk, these are the four questions that bring comfort:
- If you want to focus on faith: “Does your belief in an afterlife give you a sense of hope?”
- If you want to focus on a continued bond that they share with their baby: “If you could say anything you wanted to your baby and they could hear you, what would you say?”
- If you want to focus on making meaning of what happened: “What strength is helping you manage one of the saddest times in your life?”
- If you want to focus on their cultural customs: “Have you created a ritual that is bringing you comfort?”
Now that you know what to say to someone who had a miscarriage, realize that you are also impacted in your role as a sympathetic, empathetic, and compassionate human being.
Make sure you focus on self-care and be self-compassionate. Take care of yourself.
Dr. Maria Constantini
Reproductive Endocrinologist | Fertility Doctor, RMA Network
Before saying anything to a person who has suffered a miscarriage, it is important to remember two important facts.
First, one must recognize that a pregnancy loss is real to a person whether it happens one week into a pregnancy or 3 or more months later. It may feel like an invisible loss to others, but to the person experiencing it, it can be life-changing.
Second, whether the grief process is silent or not, you must assume that the person is grieving, and everyone experiences that differently and at a different pace.
Don’t presume to know how they feel or suggest how they should feel
How do you start? You start by being present. Don’t presume to know how that person feels or suggest to them how they should feel. You can start with a simple statement as “I’m here for you”.
You may not need to say more than that at first. You may simply need to be a patient listener. The key is to tune into where the person is at. If you go with an agenda, you may miss what the person needs or shut them down.
Be open and ready to respond to the needs of the person.
You may need to simply listen, or you may need to talk about the baby that was to be, or maybe just about the loss over and over again. Be prepared for and welcome that, as it is a sign that the person is remaining connected to you and trying to heal.
Acknowledge the pain if it is expressed
Don’t minimize it with statements such as “don’t worry, you will get pregnant again.” Would you ever say to a parent who lost a child, “don’t worry you have another child.” Of course not.
Think of them as a parent who lost a child, because that is what it feels like.
A miscarriage is the loss of a promise or a hope of a child and it takes time to heal from that loss. One never forgets that pain, they simply learns to live with it. That is what healing is.
If you understand that, then what to do or say will come easier.
Try to focus on what the person is telling you
You may feel helpless and worried about not knowing how to help the person, but remember that those are your feelings, try not to have them cloud your judgment.
Try to focus on what the person is telling you, even he/she is asking for space. Respect that, so the person will feel heard and respected.
Don’t be afraid to ask, “how can I help you?”
The person may not know either, but they will see that you are trying to find a way and they will feel less isolated. You can ask them if they want to do something together or they want to go somewhere.
You can offer them to have a small ceremony if they want. You can offer them to look for support groups if they want to.
Validate their feelings
Ultimately, be sensitive to the fact that grief is an individual process that involves unique physical and emotional experiences. People need to be validated. Reassure the person that it’s a difficult process that takes time and that it is natural to feel the way they do.
In fact, even more than that, remind them that feeling all the emotional and physical sequelae of grief is not just natural but also a necessary ingredient to achieve healing and well-being. There are no short cuts in this process.
Seek professional help if necessary
If you are worried that something does not feel right, and the person is not getting better or moving along the way they should, please reach out to a professional as the person may be experiencing clinical depression.
They may need more help than you or another friend or family member can offer.
So, if you see a friend or family member who had a pregnancy loss remember you are dealing with a parent who lost the hope of a child. If you think of that, the words will come.
Be real and kind and the person will feel that. I always say to my patients “you have a right to feel sad,” give that time, they have earned it.
Kara Nassour, LPC, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor, Shaded Bough Counseling
For people trying for a baby, a miscarriage can be an especially painful form of grief. It’s a loss, not just of the child’s life but also of the future the parents may have been hoping for.
Miscarriages are common but rarely discussed in our culture and are not usually recognized at funerals or other bereavement customs.
This can create a feeling of isolation for people who have had miscarriages and doubt whether they’re entitled to call themselves “parents” or say they’ve lost a child.
Some people have more conflicted feelings about their miscarriage:
- They may have felt ambivalent about whether they were ready to become parents.
- They may wonder if it’s their fault somehow.
- They might feel relieved and guilty at the same time.
“I’m so sorry, that must be awful — would you like to talk about it or take your mind off it for now?”
Approach them with the same quiet compassion you would go for other parents who have lost a child.
Some people want to open up and need their grief to be heard and understood. Others would prefer not to make a fuss about it. They may want you to know, but don’t fret about them or treat them like they’re delicate.
I like to use the phrase: “I’m so sorry, that must be awful. Would you like to talk about it or take your mind off it for now?” This lets the grieving person tell you what kind of support they need at the moment.
If they want to talk, ask them how they’re feeling and what the experience has been like.
Try to listen more than you speak, and reflect back to them the emotions you see: “That sounds so frustrating… You must be so scared. I think I’d be feeling that way, too.”
If they don’t want to talk about it, change the subject to something lighter. Ask them how they are feeling later.
A simple “How’s your week been?” is good.
If you’re close, you might follow up with: “How have things been, grief-wise? I’m here for you if you want to talk, or if you’d rather think about something else, that’s fine, too.” This will let them know you care without prying.
So, to support a person who had a miscarriage, you need to treat their loss as meaningful and honor their feelings about it, whatever those feelings may be.
Offer to listen but let them decide when to talk about it
Offer to listen, but let them decide when to talk about it and what language to use. Grieving people need a space where they can share their emotions, even if those emotions are messy or socially unacceptable.
You cannot heal their grief and pain for them, but your kindness can help them become more kind to themselves, and by offering to listen, you can help them feel less alone.
Hayley Wilds, MA, AT, LPC, CCTP, CTMH, CGP
Licensed Professional Counselor, Center for Creative Counseling
For many, miscarriage is not only a painful experience, both physically and emotionally, but it’s also a unique and often unacknowledged grief experience. Many feel their loss is not validated by society.
When I lost my first pregnancy, it dawned on me that people don’t really discuss miscarriage and perinatal loss openly.
I also discovered that many women in my social circles had experienced a miscarriage and had never talked about it. And despite this shared experience, not everyone was comfortable continuing the conversation.
I found myself navigating uncharted territory, trying to find support on my own.
The message seemed to be that miscarriage grief is either too personal to share and discuss, or it’s not important enough to “count” as a loss.
I also wondered if this “keep it to yourself” culture around miscarriage was due in part to the fact that people don’t know what to say, and often say the wrong thing.
Understand that sharing isn’t easy
Feeling that you can’t share your pain can complicate your grief. Suppressing your feelings can hinder your grieving process. This can be a lonely and isolating experience for those dealing with a miscarriage loss.
So it’s helpful to remember that if someone shares their miscarriage experience with you, it may have taken a lot for them to do so. They may feel they are taking a risk by sharing, knowing it might make you uncomfortable or that you might say something to make it worse.
That’s why the best response is one that validates their experience. Even if you haven’t been through their specific experience, you can communicate that you care and want to be there for them in whatever way they need.
When responding to a loved one’s miscarriage loss, the best thing you can do is to honor their experience as valid and help them feel heard.
Here are a couple of dos and don’ts to keep in mind:
Don’t point out the silver lining
You may have good intentions with these ‘silver lining’ responses, but they don’t accomplish what you want them to.
Saying things like, “You’re young. You can keep trying,” or “At least you already have a child,” do little to help.
They send a message that their feelings of pain and loss aren’t necessary and they should instead look on the bright side. It’s helpful to realize that nothing you can say will take their pain away, and it’s not your job to “fix” it.
Do: Use statements that validate their experience
Use statements that validate their experience, like:
- “I can’t imagine what you are going through, but it makes sense that you are feeling that way.”
- “I am so sorry you are going through this. I am here if you want to talk.”
Don’t push your own meaning or frame onto their loss
Don’t say, “It’s all part of God’s plan,” or “Now God has another angel.”
Saying these things may work for you when you manage loss, but your loved one may not be in a place where they are ready to shape meaning from their loss.
They may be experiencing some pretty raw emotion, and being told everything happens for a reason might not be helpful and, in fact, might be a little hurtful.
Do: Try to meet them where they’re at
Say something like:
- “What do you need?”
- “I am here if you need a listening ear.”
This can be more supportive and gives them the freedom and space to make their own meaning when they are ready and reach out to you in their own time.
Don’t force a future focus
You may be tempted to say something reassuring about their future like:
- “You got pregnant once, you can do it again.”
- “I know someone who had a miscarriage, and they went on to have lots of kids.”
But they are likely not ready for statements like these.
And even if they are, it still risks sending a message they should move on and get over their grief.
Do: Say things that honor the grieving process
Remember that grief isn’t linear, and miscarriage isn’t something you just get over.
For many, the wound of their loss stays with them forever. So when offering your support, it’s better to say things that honor the grieving process and recognize that there is no set timeline for grief.
Send the message that:
- You will always be there if they want to share.
- There’s no expiration date on your support.
What worked for me: Gentle expressions of care and being given the space to cry it out
When I lost my first pregnancy, I wasn’t ready to talk about it at first. I couldn’t bring myself to process it out loud with friends and family for a good while.
Some of the early comments I received weren’t helpful, and I didn’t have the energy to manage other people’s emotional responses to my pain.
But some of the most helpful support I received early on included gentle expressions of care like “I am here if you want to talk,” being given the space to cry it out and nurturing gestures that didn’t require anything from me.
One example that stands out in my mind is a care package I received from a close relative. She dropped it off on my doorstep with a simple note that said she was available if I needed to talk.
The care package included tea, cookies, and other soothing items. It not only made me feel loved and supported, but it validated my loss as genuine and gave me the green light to reach out when I was ready.
Ellen Kolomeyer, PhD, PMH-C
Certified in Perinatal Mental Health | Clinical Psychologist, Unpolished Parenthood
“I’m here for whatever you need — we can sit and talk, or we don’t have to talk.”
Understand what someone who had a miscarriage is going through when you approach the conversation
First, I want to highlight that it’s important to understand what someone who had a miscarriage is going through when you approach the conversation.
Bonding can start to occur really early on, from the moment a parent-to-be sees a positive pregnancy test. Many new parents immediately begin imagining a lifetime with their baby when they find out they’re pregnant.
When parents-to-be experience a loss, it is not just the loss of an embryo or fetus; it can often feel like a loss of dreams and expectations.
It can feel like their bodies betrayed them, and they can no longer trust their bodies to keep them and their baby safe.
Pregnancy loss may result in:
- A heightened risk for anxiety
- Post-traumatic stress
- Obsessions and compulsions
Parents who had a miscarriage often report significantly high levels of anxiety and depression in future pregnancies. When you’re approaching someone who had a miscarriage, it’s important to honor all of these complex layers of the experience.
What you need to know about miscarriage:
Don’t assume how someone feels
Don’t assume how someone feels. Listen first and follow their lead. No matter when in the pregnancy a miscarriage happens, loss and grief are unique experiences.
In other words, everyone will react differently, and their reactions may change as they continue to process it.
Even if it was very early on, the loss could feel very heavy; it signifies:
- A great loss of what could have been.
- A loss of feeling safe and certain in pregnancy.
- A loss of hope.
- Intensified fears and anxiety.
Related: Why Is Hope so Important in Life?
Don’t forget to check in on dads
Though they aren’t the ones carrying a baby, they are certainly still carrying many thoughts and emotions in their minds and in their hearts. Dads often feel like they have to be the rock, but they are human and need support too.
There are different grieving styles, and people experience it on a continuum.
Some may feel intense emotion due to their grief, whereas others take on a more instrumental approach, meaning it’s expressed in thoughts and behaviors, and doing is their way of grieving.
Of course, people may land somewhere in the middle of this continuum as well.
What to say to them:
- “I’m thinking about you. Would you like to share how you’re feeling?”
- “I’m here for whatever you need. We can sit and talk, or we don’t have to talk.”
- “Let me know how to best support you. I can help you problem-solve, get you anything you need, or just listen.”
What not to say:
- “It’s okay; you can just try again.”
- “You weren’t very far along. How attached could you have gotten already?”
- “Miscarriages are so common early on and happen to a lot of people. It’s not a big deal.”
Laura Fletcher, CD (DONA)
Founder and CEO, Selah Fertility
“Your feelings are valid; take all the time you need to process them”
I want to begin by showing gratitude to the person reading this.
Educating yourself on ways to support a loved one after a miscarriage is really beautiful. Miscarriage is hard to navigate for the individual or partner experiencing it but also for their family and friends.
It can be tough to know how to show up in a compassionate, respectful way. Every person experiences grief differently; however, I believe some universal common grounds allow an opportunity for support.
Think about their needs: nourishment and rest top the list, followed by understanding and compassion.
Nourishment: Don’t show up unannounced, and don’t put any pressure to be received
Miscarriage severely depletes the physical body. Deeply nourishing foods replenish us. Drop off foods that are easy to heat up, eat, and clean up. Think stews, soups, casseroles, and smoothies.
Don’t show up unannounced, and don’t put any pressure to be received.
A quick text that says:
“I’m planning to drop off some dinner for you tomorrow around 6 pm. If you’d like me to stay for a while and help you with anything around the house or even just to sit with you in silence, I’m happy to do that.
Please don’t feel pressured in any way, though. I’m dropping off food to support you and don’t want to add burden to you while you recover from your miscarriage.”
If you can’t drop food off, have something delivered!
Rest: They are exhausted physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually
Miscarriage is exhausting physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
- Are there ways you can help refill their cup?
- Do they have a pet that you can walk for them or a living child that needs entertaining or picked up from school?
- Would they benefit from a massage or an acupuncture session?
Understanding: Honor their timeline and process
It’s tough to truly understand the impact of a miscarriage without having experienced one yourself.
That doesn’t mean you can’t extend understanding.
- We do this through active listening and validating the person grieving.
- We do this by honoring their timeline and process.
Compassion: Show up as you’re needed, not as you think you’re needed
I would venture, in hope, to say that most people mean well. They are well intended; however, I think it’s important to acknowledge that impact always trumps intent. Show up as you’re needed, not as you think you’re needed.
If someone experiencing miscarriage asks for space, don’t take it personally. Instead, honor their needs and express compassion. This is particularly relevant if you have living children, are pregnant, or are trying to conceive.
It can be challenging to be around children, pregnancy, or people talking about pregnancy and children after miscarriage.
As someone that has experienced four miscarriages, I’ve heard some deeply hurtful remarks and “advice.” Thankfully, I’ve also received deep support and love.
What to say:
- “I’m here for whatever you need when you need it.”
- “Would you like me to simply listen, or are you looking for suggestions?”
- “You are loved, and your baby was loved.”
- “You are not alone.”
- “Your feelings are valid. Take all the time you need to process them.”
- “Grief is not linear. I am here for you whenever you want to talk.”
What not to say:
- “At least you’re young!”
- “At least you weren’t too far along.”
- “It wasn’t meant to be.”
- “God works in mysterious ways.”
- “Were you taking your prenatal vitamins?”
- “Well, kids are a handful, so…”
- “Just try again next month!”
- “Miscarriages are normal.”
- “When do you think you’ll try again?”
- “I bet the next one sticks!”
EMDR Trained Therapist
I’ve been faced with this situation many times. You’d think it gets easier over time, but honestly, it’s challenging and gut-wrenching every single time.
The truth is, there’s nothing anyone can say that will take the person’s pain away. That said, I do have some tips for talking to someone who has experienced a miscarriage.
Let them know you’re a safe person
This one is tough to do, but please know that folks who’ve had a miscarriage have already been told the typical invalidating things that make their suffering worse, such as: “At least you know you can get pregnant.”
Under no circumstances should you say that.
Instead, say: “I can’t imagine the pain you’re experiencing. I’m here to listen if you’d like to talk. I’m also here if you’d like to just sit with me.”
This communicates to them that you’re not trying to change how they feel or guess what they may be feeling.
Validate their feelings
People experiencing trauma (which miscarriage can definitely qualify as) need to hear that they’re allowed to have these feelings without being “cheered up” against their will:
What you can say is in response to whatever emotion they share.
For example, a friend may say: “I just keep thinking about it and feel so sad. I can’t stop crying.”
To this, you can say: “I’d feel sad, too. You’re allowed to feel sad. You’re allowed to cry.”
This conveys to them that the overwhelming emotions they feel are, despite being uncomfortable, normal to have and a normal part of the grieving process.
Be yourself; you don’t need to try to be your friend’s therapist
Lastly, you don’t need to try to be your friend’s therapist, coach, or psychiatrist. Your friend values you for you, and the comfort of you being your authentic self cannot be underestimated.
Let them know your support for them will not waiver, no matter how dark it may seem.
Here’s where you communicate the level of commitment you have to your friendship by saying: “I will be here for you no matter what, whatever you need.”
Use the language you would always use with your friend and let your true self shine through:
- If you’re someone who swears, add those in!
- If you’re someone who says “dude” before every sentence, do it.
- Just be whoever you are — that stability and familiarity will be a source of comfort for the other person.
Going through a miscarriage can be isolating, scary, and debilitating for so many women. Be the safe space for them to heal through the pain.
Emphasize improved self-care, self-awareness, and self-advocacy
Following a loss, most women quickly realize if they waited until they felt 100% better before trying again, they’d wait forever. Practicing improved self-care, self-awareness, and self-advocacy can help women better navigate the inevitable sharp curves on this journey.
Grief following perinatal loss remains widely misunderstood and often minimized by society. Grief is not reflective of the length of gestation or time spent with a baby, rather, it’s reflective of the depth of attachment.
Grief is not experienced as linear and contrary to other types of loss (e.g., adult death), time is not considered a friend.
If a woman is going to consider when and how to pursue another pregnancy, the reality of a limited reproductive window adds additional stress and pressure.
Another pregnancy or baby is not automatically a “reset” or a “happy ever after,” and once a woman completes a healthy full-term delivery, the challenges don’t end.
Attachment and bonding can be complicated, and it may be difficult to reconcile feelings about the new baby with the one that was lost.
The COVID pandemic adds more weight to the existing reproductive and mental health challenges these women face by increasing their sense of isolation, loneliness, and despair above and beyond the other uncertainties they face baseline. And, it has robbed them of any sense of control.
Tamika Simpson, PsyD, PMH-C, IBCLC
Digital Health Coach, Ovia Health
When someone has a miscarriage, others often struggle with knowing what to say.
Showing compassion can go a long way
Sometimes people feel like they don’t know the right words to use and do not want to cause the person any further pain. But there are no magic words that can be said that will fix the situation or even make it better.
Many people will try to avoid the conversation as it makes them uncomfortable not knowing what to say. Although you can’t fix the situation, showing compassion can go a long way.
Simply saying “I’m here for you” or letting them know you’re available for support if they need it can often be helpful.
Being sensitive and empathetic can be helpful; don’t be too intrusive
A person who has experienced a miscarriage may have a wide variety of emotions. Being sensitive and empathetic can be helpful if you are a friend, family member, or coworker of someone who has experienced a loss.
It is also important to be careful not to be too intrusive. Some people may want to talk about it, and others might not.
Respect their feelings and allow them to grieve in their own way.
It’s totally normal for someone to feel:
- Numb or emotionless
- Devastated and depressed
- Anxious and worried
- All of the emotions in between
We will all handle these sorts of difficult situations differently.
If you are the partner of the person who has experienced the loss, expressing your own emotions and allowing space for theirs can help the two of you to get through it together.
Recognize that your feelings may not match theirs, and that is ok. But being there for each other and discussing what you are feeling allows it to be something you are actively working through as a team.
Check in on your partner and ask if they need anything
Check in on your partner and ask if they need anything. Let them know you are there to support them through any emotion they are experiencing.
Avoid trying to correct their emotions or tell them how they should be feeling, but rather be there to support them and go through the process at their own pace.
Sue English, MSW, LCSW, CADC
Licensed Family Therapist | Owner, English Meadows Counseling Services
“I don’t want to assume I understand what you are experiencing — can you share what you need.”
After experiencing a miscarriage, emotional sensitivity must be used when a friend’s feelings are so raw.
Stating these are essential expressions of care through their delicate grief process: “I don’t want to assume I understand what you are experiencing — can you share what you need.” or “how can I best support you?”
You can offer explicit ways to physically, emotionally, and socially support them
You can offer explicit ways to physically, emotionally, and socially support them, including making their meals or taking a walk while allowing them to lead the conversation or simply being present in supportive silence.
Even though there is a universality around all human struggles, it can feel very isolating to have experienced a miscarriage, especially multiple miscarriages.
Do not share “I know how you feel” as their pain is unique to their own fertility journey.
It is natural to want to help and support someone after the revelation of a miscarriage. However, trying to “relate” to their pain by sharing your own parenting struggles can be detrimental to their healing and your relationship.
People share uncertain statements such as “Don’t worry, it will happen” due to their own emotional discomfort in sitting with someone’s pain.
“My heart hurts for you” is a certain and supportive sentiment when someone is feeling hopeless.
One will reprocess the grief through the different stages of trying to conceive again. Say, “If it is okay with you, I want to check in with you periodically and hold space for wherever you are at emotionally through whatever next steps you decide or decide not to explore.”
Hope Weiss, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Grief Informed Professional, Hope Weiss, LCSW LLC
What makes it challenging for someone dealing with miscarriage is that it is disenfranchised grief. This means that the loss is not valued or seen as necessary.
Friends and family may not have known that the person was pregnant. This may lead to them not feeling connected to the loss.
What not to say to someone who had a miscarriage:
Loved ones may also respond in ways that they think are helpful but are actually harmful to the person grieving the loss of their child.
They may say things like:
- “You can have another child.”
- “Heaven has another angel.”
- “It must have been meant to be.”
How to help someone who experienced a miscarriage:
A lot of people have a hard time being around grief and loss. This can lead the griever to be alone with their loss or feel that they can’t reach out for support.
One huge thing you can do for someone who has had a miscarriage is to “just be there.”
It isn’t what you say; it’s your presence in their life. You might ask if it’s ok to visit and just be with that person. If the griever wants to talk, they can, but they will also know that they don’t have to do anything.
Listen without judgment or fixing
This is about sitting with the griever and listening to whatever they want to share. It’s important that you not try to fix things or try to make the person feel better.
It is so healing to have another person just be present with our pain — to know that we are not alone. Someone who had a miscarriage may feel guilty and blame themselves.
Please do not respond by saying, “You shouldn’t feel guilty.” That is not validating their feelings; instead, it’s telling them how they should feel.
An option would be to reflect back on what they said and share how that sounds so hard to feel that way.
Provide assistance with meals and other practical tasks
When someone has had a miscarriage, they may be feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. It may be hard for them to take care of daily tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and errands.
It’s hard for people in grief to think of ways that others can help them. They do not have the bandwidth and energy to figure that out.
You can provide this assistance instead of asking, “How can I help?”
You can greatly assist by doing some of these things for this person. So, when a friend brings over food, goes grocery shopping, mows the yard, or does other needed tasks, it provides such relief for the griever.
Because each person’s circumstances and conditioning are different, there aren’t really a collection of tried and true phrases that feel supportive or meaningful to all people who have had a miscarriage.
There are, however, ways of approaching people that tend to be more helpful, as well as some that feel less helpful.
Validate their emotions
One of the most important things we can do for someone who has endured a pregnancy loss is validation. Validate their emotions. Be present with them where they are today.
A validating statement might sound like, “It makes sense that you feel so sad. It’s impossible not to dream of the future with your child when you’re pregnant, and losing your baby and the future that you hoped for with them naturally comes with a great deal of grief.“
Never force them to look on the bright side
Many people will try to rush others through the healing process with statements like, “You can always try for another one,” or “At least you weren’t that far along in the pregnancy.”
Any attempt to get someone to look on the bright side invalidates their emotions and can make them feel hesitant to share in the future. This feeds into the pervasive cultural silence around miscarriages that leaves so many parents feeling like they have to suffer in silence.
Be willing to be with them
Some people will rush to pass the parent a tissue, get them a glass of water, or tell them to go take a nap when what they really need is to have someone sit and listen to them talk about their experience and their feelings. They need someone to be comfortable with their discomfort, and willing to just be in that space with them.
Both “at least” and busying one’s self with doing rather than being present, are a reflection of the discomfort that person feels with the parent’s strong emotions.
If friends and family members can find the courage to not push away their own big feelings, it will be easier to not try to push away the big feelings of the parent who has had a miscarriage.
Their willingness to be in the moment – especially the hard, sticky, uncomfortable moments – could make a world of difference for someone grieving the loss of a pregnancy.
Monica Miner, LMHC
Lead Therapist, Future Now Detox
When someone you know has had a miscarriage, it can be difficult to know what to say. You need to be very careful of what you are going to ask or tell them; they are very emotional in this phase of life.
The only thing that you need to say is not a form of a question but a comforting word that will lessen her burden, like:
“You need to eat healthy foods for you to get well easily. I am going to cook for you.”
This simple act of caring will make them feel less lonely or sad. It will lighten the heavy feeling inside them.
Check on them constantly, even when they are just lying in bed and doing nothing
Another is constantly checking them even when they are just lying in bed and doing nothing. Share some happy thoughts and motivational stories of people you both know so that she will look up to that story and become motivated.
In these times, they feel that they are not good enough and blame themselves that it is their fault even if it is not, so you need to tell them that in some instances, this kind of situation happens, like:
“You know life is so beautiful, but sometimes just like rain, you need to pour all the water inside of you to see the sunshine again. It is not always like it seems, and you are not the only one experiencing it.”
There are so many people that did not get the chance to get pregnant. At least people who suffer from miscarriage know that they still have a chance.
Tell them that hope is still there and have faith always. Always remember that the support system must be strong, for it will serve as their energy giver in their weakest part.
The people around the person that has suffered from miscarriage must be careful and protective. They needed help, and help was by being patient and understanding.
Miscarriage is just like losing the people you love; the only difference is you are not given the chance to meet the baby inside you. They need both sympathy and empathy. Give them both.
Silvi Saxena, MBA, MSW, LSW, CCTP, OSW-C
Licensed Social Worker | Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Choosing Therapy
Don’t insinuate that they can just get pregnant again
Dealing with a miscarriage should be treated like any other loss. Just because the pregnancy didn’t come to fruition doesn’t mean that the pregnancy didn’t mean something to the individual or couple.
When you are trying to help someone who is in grief, acknowledge their grief and normalize it:
- It is important to take their lead and if they are open to talking, just listen.
- If they are not, do not pry.
- Don’t minimize the loss of the pregnancy and insinuate that they can just get pregnant again.
Families often wait a long time for children and begin to prepare before conception, so it is not as simple as replacing the pregnancy.
Like all grief, it will take time, and letting your loved ones know that you are there for them and will support them is important.
Losing a pregnancy can feel a lot like losing a child
To add, losing a pregnancy can feel a lot like losing a child. Parents may have hopes and dreams for their child in utero, and it can be confusing and heartbreaking to lose a child and see a child or pregnancy die before you do.
This kind of grief is very complex and should be treated with care.
Katie Ziskind, BS, MA, MFT, LMFT
Licensed Holistic Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, Wisdom Within Counseling
Do not tell her she can or should be grateful that she can at least get pregnant
Having a miscarriage is one of the major losses couples and individuals can face. Each person may experience the loss and trauma of a miscarriage differently.
A miscarriage can be a major loss and can cause someone to:
- Spiral into depression
- Have anxiety
- Be filled with self-doubt
After a miscarriage, someone might feel it’s hard to trust their body or be afraid to try again.
Miscarriages can be physically and emotionally exhausting, so you never want to tell someone just to get over it. Getting over a miscarriage can take many months and years. You also never want to minimize the loss of a miscarriage.
To the person who had a miscarriage, they were very excited about their pregnancy, and they were overjoyed to be having a child, so having a miscarriage is the exact opposite of that joy and is a very painful realization.
- Do not minimize the severity of pain and trauma caused by an unexpected loss like a miscarriage.
- Do not say that a person should be grateful their body miscarried.
Do not try to find a reason or explanation for why they miscarried
For an onlooker, it might seem good that a person didn’t have a child with special needs or severe physical disabilities, but they don’t want to hear that a miscarriage was actually a positive thing because it is so emotionally painful.
Even if it may be true that the body miscarries due to chromosome issues or birth effects, it is not supportive or empathetic to say this to a person or a couple who has just experienced a miscarriage.
As well, if you know someone who has had a miscarriage, do not question if they took their prenatal vitamins, and do not try to find a reason or explanation for why they miscarried.
There are a variety of reasons why the body miscarries, and a woman who has just miscarried does not need you questioning if they took care of themselves or feeling blamed like it was their fault.
- Do not ask someone if they drank too much caffeine, skipped meals, or attended their physician appointments regularly, as this is intrusive and not empathetic.
- Do not tell a woman who has just miscarried that she can or should be grateful that she can at least get pregnant.
This minimizes the loss and trauma around a miscarriage.
An onlooker does not understand the amount of trying, effort, attention, and energy that went into simply getting pregnant one time. So it is very judgmental to tell a woman to be grateful that at least she knows she can get pregnant again.
A woman may be doubting her body’s ability and wondering if she can even carry a baby to term, so telling her that she should be grateful that she simply can get pregnant is not supportive and is not a way to be a good friend.
Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, LMFT, ATR
Licensed Psychotherapist | Marriage and Family Therapist | Author, “I LOVE MYSELF: Affirmations For A Happy Life”
- “It’s not your fault.”
- “I’m sorry you are going through this loss.”
- “I love you.”
- “I’m here to listen, to hug, or to pray.”
- “This is sad news and I’m sorry to hear you are suffering.”
- “Be very gentle with yourself.”
- “Take care and focus on your healing.”
- “I’m here if and when you need to talk.”
- “If you want me to just sit with you, I will.”
- “Can I make you something to eat?”
- “Can I babysit your other kids?”
- “Can I walk your dog for you?”
- “What can I do to help make things easier?”
- “Don’t worry about the dishes, the mail, the laundry, class notes, the meeting, work, etc, for now, please just rest and get better.”
- “Grieving is a process. It is going to take time.”
- “I’m so sorry you are going through this loss.”
- “I’m here for you.”
Offer your help
Give them a journal and a pen. Give them comfort foods. Bake them cookies. Make them macaroni and cheese. Drop off their favorite coffee. Bring them a casserole. They may not be up for cooking.
Let them feel their loss at their own time and pace
Try to avoid platitudes like “God works in mysterious ways” or “It just wasn’t meant to be.” That’s hurtful. Try not to talk about how they’ll “still have a baby someday!” It is tone-deaf and unhelpful.
Let them grieve. Let them feel their loss before spiritual bypassing, trying to be Pollyanna or “good vibes only.”
They are really grieving and suffering a deep loss. Give them permission to feel all of their feelings. Try not to be too inquisitive or pushy. Let them heal and talk at their own pace. Grieving takes as long as it takes. Let them process their feelings in their own way, in their own time.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Supervisor
The most important response is to recognize someone’s loss after a miscarriage, the same as you would any other loss. They are going through grief and it’s often helpful to acknowledge that.
Keeping it simple is often the most compassionate approach
You can say phrases such as:
- “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
- “I’m sorry to hear the news.”
- “I’m here to talk when you are ready.”
- “I’m thinking of you.”
Keeping it simple is often the most compassionate approach.
As the support person to someone who has experienced a miscarriage, it is important to remember it’s ok to be uncomfortable, and it is not your job to take the person’s pain away. It is only your job to offer support, empathy, compassion, and love.
You can also be honest and transparent that you may not know what to say and do, but that you are there to be of support and help and may need some guidance. Remove the pressure from yourself about saying and doing the perfect thing to help, and remind yourself of your humanness.
The most important thing we can do is show up for people as we are, not try to distract or take away their pain and sit with them in all the messy parts of their grief.
Allow them and yourself to take time to figure all this out, including needs and not being ok. It is ok to not be ok.
Be mindful of what this loss is doing to the couple
Relationships can struggle through a miscarriage. One partner often feels the need to be strong and take care of the other, and both can start to feel alone. Ask about both people and how they’re doing, and make sure to use open-ended questions.
Remind them that they are both allowed and need to take the time to grieve as a couple and that it’s ok to fall apart together.
Dr. Katy Huie Harrison
Author | Owner, Undefining Motherhood
What I most want people to know when talking to people who have experienced miscarriage is that they cannot make it better.
Validate the emotions the griever is experience
The most important thing for people to remember is that their job is to validate the grief the loss mom is experiencing, as she is regularly bombarded with statements that make her feel like she shouldn’t grieve as much as she is.
When people say things like “At least you know you can get pregnant,” the use of the word “at least” minimizes the experience in the listener’s mind. Searching for such silver lining is common in speaking with people who are grieving, but it can be extremely hurtful.
For someone who’s being extremely careful about what they say, the best thing they can do is validate the emotions the griever is experiencing, thus counteracting the other messages the loss mom is likely receiving.
To validate someone’s emotions, responses can be simple. My favorite, for someone who has never experienced such loss, is simply, “I’m terribly sorry for your loss; I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I’m here.“
These simple words make the loss mom feel less alone, and they allow her to feel whatever it is that she needs to feel. Allowing people to experience their feelings is so important.
Relationship Expert | Managing Editor, Texas Divorce Laws
Knowing what to say when someone you know loses a pregnancy can be challenging, if not downright impossible. Since conversing with someone in this circumstance is so tricky, you should genuinely consider your words before speaking.
Here are some things to remember when you get into these conversations:
Recognize their loss: “I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m here for you.”
After losing a baby, many women and couples experience isolation and loneliness. Because of an early miscarriage, some people might feel as though they aren’t entitled to grieve.
Nobody should be prevented from grieving over the loss of their child and the future they had planned. You might feel uncomfortable speaking up or believe it would be preferable to keep quiet. However, merely acknowledging someone’s loss can be pretty helpful.
Saying something as simple as, “I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m here for you,” is more than enough.
Give them room to feel scared and perplexed
It’s only reasonable to want to reassure someone who is struggling that they can overcome their difficulties. However, it’s equally essential to let them know that it’s OK not to be OK, just as it is to affirm their experience.
It’s acceptable if your friend or family member who miscarried feels frightened or anxious because miscarriage is one of the few losses that occur inside a body.
Simply mentioning, “It’s OK to feel numb/shocked/angry/scared right now. You don’t have to be or feel anything else” can reassure someone. When you are with someone who has experienced a miscarriage, this phrase can be helpful.
Food Blogger and Owner, Corrie Cooks
“I understand you’re in pain — whatever you have gone through isn’t easy.”
Carrying a baby means you are carrying a load of dreams in you. My wife’s miscarriage was a dreadful experience for all of us but mainly for her. She was going through hell.
A dream that a baby will come out of you and fill your life with happiness will complete you, and you won’t need anything but its smile. Losing a baby means losing all those dreams and, in short, losing your happiness.
Never force a mother who has lost her child to smile or cheer up
I didn’t want my wife to smile despite having such a heavy heart. She was sad, and I could understand that. I was there for her to give her a shoulder to cry on and not to force her to smile.
It was clearly a difficult phase. Sometimes she was scared, sometimes horrified, sometimes hopeful and sometimes very hopeless. One thing that kept her going was her family that handled all those mood swings and gave her a feeling of warmth.
I suggest you never force a mother who has lost her child to smile or cheer up. Give her some space and time to stabilize herself.
Don’t say that:
- “It might have happened for good.”
- “At least you have a good husband or other children.”
- “Focus on what you have rather than what you haven’t.”
These sentences will only make her feel miserable because losing a child can’t be for good; it’s the most challenging test of your life. Having a good husband or children doesn’t mean that you can lose a child.
Here are things you could do:
- Try to be empathetic. Try to calm her down, wipe her tears and let her speak about whatever she is feeling.
- Be a good listener.
- Be more caring towards her, and don’t react badly if she says something hurtful.
- Tell her she is very strong. Whatever she has gone through isn’t easy, and you understand she is in pain.
Being a father who lost his child isn’t easy either. I didn’t carry the baby, but I did carry the dreams. But at that time, I couldn’t afford to be depressed or sad because my wife needed me.
I had my friends with whom I shared my feelings and sobbed about my loss, but as I was standing like a strong pillar with my wife, she recovered soon and tried to console me as well.
This is how a marriage works; one has to stay strong for the other, and then the other tries to reciprocate it as well.
Founder and Inventor, Proov
Share actionable information about pregnancy
When I was experiencing miscarriage after miscarriage, I kept hearing “well, it just happens” from my doctors. While I can appreciate that they were probably trying to make sure I knew it wasn’t my fault, I found this so frustrating. I wanted answers. I didn’t want to just hear “it happens.”
When I talk to women today who have been experiencing losses, I try to share information that is a bit more actionable.
In about 70% of cases, the egg and sperm just didn’t join up correctly and there is a genetic issue that makes the embryo incompatible with life. There is nothing you can do about that.
But in about 30% of cases, losses may be preventable with the right medical support.
So while I of course tell someone who has had a miscarriage “I’m so sorry for your loss,” I also encourage them to make sure they have a supportive doctor who listens and helps get to the bottom of what might be causing their losses, especially if there is more than one.
Certified Wellness Coach | Holistic Health Practitioner
Unfortunately, I have experienced five miscarriages. Oftentimes, people want to say something to help during the grieving process.
Your presence speaks volumes
In some cases, the best thing to say is nothing at all your presence speaks volumes. It’s okay to have silence. When a person does speak offer positive affirmations reassuring her worth as a woman.
Refrain from telling a woman she will be okay. Instead, ask open-ended questions:
- “How are you feeling?”
- “Are you up to going out today?”
Give the woman the control in leading the conversation.
Author | Founder, Your Angel Wings
What to say (and do) to/for someone experiencing a miscarriage:
- “I am so sorry.”
- “I love you (or I care for you).”
- “I am not sure what to say, but I am here for you.”
- “I don’t know what it’s like for you, but I am here to listen.”
- “I am praying for you. (or what specifically can I pray for you?)”
- “I am sending you a huge hug.”
- “Can I bring you dinner tonight?”
- Send them flowers, mail them a card, or send them a “thinking of you today” text
- “It is so good to see you. How are you?”
- “When and if you are ready to talk, I would love to bring you coffee or a bottle of wine.”
- Send them a free, hand-knitted pocket prayer square/remembrance gift.
What not to say:
- “Everything happens for a reason.”
- “At least you already have a child (Or be grateful for what you have).”
- “Just relax and quit worrying.”
- “You can always try again.”
- “You must be so upset.”
- “It wasn’t meant to be (or it’s not the right time).”
- “At least you weren’t further along.”
- “I don’t know how much more of this roller coaster I can take.”
- “Have you been tested for…a, b, c?”
- “Maybe you should consider adoption.”
- “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”
After a few months have passed, you could consider saying these things to your loved one or friend who experienced a miscarriage
- “Have hope.”
- “Don’t give up.’
- “I am praying for you.”
Founder, Side Hustle Mom
The best thing that anyone said to me after our miscarriage is that the life of our baby mattered and that our grief was valid.
Before our miscarriage, I just assumed that those in mourning did not want to talk about their grief or think about their loss, but that was not the case for us.
Tell them that you want to hear their story when they are ready and listen to what they say
Cry with them. If you have never lost a child and cannot imagine what they are going through, tell them that, or—on the other hand—if you have and are comfortable sharing your story, do it.
There is a misconception that losing a child in utero is less painful than other hardships (after all, you never really knew the baby, right?), but it is by far the hardest thing that millions of people will experience, and having that grief validated is vital for healing.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?