When you see someone you care about hurting, you want to take away that pain and help in any way you can. Sometimes, though, even the most heartfelt attempt to share comforting words can become very hurtful. If you have a loved one who’s going through miscarriages, infertility, and grief, I want to help you lift them up.
Sometimes, though, you don’t have to say anything at all. Just be present. Sit with them in the pain. Just be there. Give a hug. Bring a meal. Sometimes words aren’t necessary. They just need to know they’re not alone.
Here are some things that were actually said to me in the darkest moments of my grief — I’m sure from a place of love, after my miscarriages — but these words stung so deeply in my already broken heart. My hope is that this can help you choose the right words to support a loved one going through a similar journey.
At least it was early. At least you have other children. At least you can try again. At least… anything. Don’t say it. If someone you loved lost their husband or wife, you wouldn’t say, “At least you can get married again.” Of course you wouldn’t say that! This isn’t just a hiccup for your loved one. This is a death, and it’s devastating.
Instead, say “I love you.”
“You share too much personal information,” and “Maybe next time, just hold it deep in your heart and don’t tell anyone, not even your husband, and ask yourself, ‘Am I really pregnant?'”
Friends, these statements cut so deeply it’s hard to even articulate how much it hurt me. Everyone celebrates differently. Everyone grieves differently. So don’t let ANYONE tell you how to do either.
If you want to publicly announce your pregnancy the minute you get a positive test, DO IT. Live your life! Because you know what? You’re pregnant. Right now, at this moment, your baby is with you. Enjoy every moment of it, and don’t let anyone tell you how or when you should celebrate.
Everyone grieves differently. So, do whatever you need to do to heal your heart. If you need to hide from the world, hide. If you need to start a blog talking about your pain, share your story. If you need to stay in bed for weeks and eat pizza and ice cream, eat all the comfort food you want. If you need to jump on one leg and dress up like a damn chicken, YOU DO YOU. Don’t let ANYONE tell you how you should grieve. There is no timeframe for grief. There are no guidelines for grief. This is your journey and yours alone.
Instead, say “I’m here for you.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t do so much yoga.”
If your loved one just lost her child, please know that she is spending every waking minute of every day wondering what she did wrong. She’s replaying every single detail of what she could have done to cause this. She’s hating herself and every mistake she made. She’s falling apart. The last thing she needs to hear is that you might think she caused the death of her baby.
Instead, say “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
Stop. Saying. This. Everything does not happen for a reason. Sometimes utter crap happens for no reason at all. I remember when people would say this to me, in my mind, I would shout, “Really? Then, please tell me. Why did my baby die? What was the reason?” So, my response to this comment was always uncontrollable, painful tears.
Instead, say “I’m praying for you.”
“You’re just an angel maker.”
I swear to you, these words were actually spoken to me. I know they loved me, and I know they were trying to cheer me up. I also know that I don’t have to explain why you shouldn’t say this to someone who is grieving.
Instead, say “I’m sorry you’re hurting.”
“Just stop trying and it will happen.”
Just stop trying? Thank you, Karen! That’s a perfectly logical solution to my problem. I mean, here I am consulting doctors, specialists, and professionals about infertility and causes for miscarriages, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on treatments, and desperately praying to God… but you just solved my problem. I’ll stop trying, I won’t care about it all, and I’ll magically get pregnant like your second cousin Sally did. (Picking up on the sarcasm?) My rant may sound silly, but I promise, if you say this to a woman trying to have a baby, this is exactly what will be going through her mind.
Instead, just give a hug. No words are needed.
READ: Life After Miscarriage
I feel like God gives some of us a heart for more heartache and pain than others can stand. I don’t know why terrible things happen, but I know how hard it is to walk through them, and how much it hurts. The suffocating days are long, and the nights seem even longer. There are more tears than you can count, frustrated prayers screaming out to God, and attempts to drown your sorrows. In those moments, there just simply are no words. It’s not about cliché words of wisdom. It’s about showing up and being present for your friend. Listening when they need to vent, being a shoulder to lean on when they’re feeling weak, and just sitting with them in the darkness.
One of my favorite books of all time is Love Does by Bob Goff. It was life-changing for me. He tells stories of how love just… does. Love doesn’t say, “Let me know how I can help.” Love doesn’t ask permission or sit in waiting. Love shows up. Love brings over a warm meal for a struggling family. Love calls the friend to let them know you’re thinking of them. Love comes over and sits with you when you’re down. Love sends the card in the mail. Love starts the meal train for a friend. Love sends those daily texts to check-in.
Love. Just. Does.