I have been very open about our losses from the beginning. I got a lot of different responses from people during those times, and even when I have been vocal about them since. Some people said they were sorry, and couldn’t imagine what we were going through. Others said that something was probably wrong with the baby, so this was probably the best thing. Some said, “What was meant to be would be.” Someone even told my mom that it was a result of an alien abduction (this was honestly out of sheer concern, not their way of trying to be rude or hurtful at all).
I never really got offended at people’s reaction, even the alien theory. I wasn’t ever hurt by the way people processed the loss or how they justified it, and the reason is simple. No one ever tried to take my grief away. They all acknowledged our loss, and never said we needed to move on or get over it. Sometimes you just are at a loss of words during a sad and emotional stressful time, and you just don’t know what to say.
Sure, people may have said something weird as to why it may have happened, but unfortunately this subject is still a bit taboo to talk about, and probably made people a little uncomfortable.
What do you say to someone who is losing their unborn child right in front of you? You just try to fill the empty space to show them you care.
Sometimes it comes out wrong or insensitive. I really don’t feel that anyone tried to hurt me or urge me to let it go. I honestly think people were trying to help me cope and find some believable reason that the baby was gone, maybe to try to ease my mind that it wouldn’t happen again. Do I really think that it was God’s plan to take my child away? No, I don’t. However, I took their words as more of a general, “I’m sorry this is happening. I wish it wasn’t. Things will get better,” because I know that’s what they meant.
After being open about my losses, I have had people reach out to me about their own loss. I am shocked at the number. In just one year I had friends, family, and family friends experience pregnancy loss more times than I can count on one hand. When I would hear about it, even after going through it myself, I didn’t know what to say. I did break the ice a few times reaching out, to let them know they were not alone. But I hardly had any words of wisdom. Almost always, “I’m so sorry. I’m here if you need anything.” Nothing off the wall or poetic. Just simple, to the point.
Even as a mother of loss, I still don’t always know how to respond to someone going through it.
Sometimes it takes a lot of thinking to even know where to begin. “I’m sorry,” doesn’t always feel like the right thing to say, but is there such a thing? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m rarely politically correct, and I say what I think and feel regardless of who is around. After giving this subject a lot of thought, maybe there isn’t a “right” thing to say. Everybody is different, has different feelings and beliefs. What is alright to say to one person may offend the next beyond words. Those words may not have been said with any malice and came from a place of love and concern, but were just delivered wrong due to the depth of the situation. It is easy to take offense to everything when you are already so low during a pregnancy loss, but I chose to take any response as support.
The important thing to do for someone going through loss is not to stress about what to say, but to show them that you love and support them.
Tell them you are sorry and give them a hug. Be there for a late-night conversation if they need to cry or vent. Send them a face mask and a bottle of champagne and tell them they need to take care of themselves. Just listen to them ramble on and on even when it is the tenth time you have heard the exact same thing. Something we have all heard from childhood that speaks volumes at a time when any word seems to hurt – Actions speak louder than words. It’s ok to say the wrong thing, or even a generic apology. The thought and feelings behind the words are what impacted me the most, and is what I feel is the most important thing to “say.”