What Not to Say…Pregnancy and Infant Loss

If you’ve ever experienced the loss of a baby or pregnancy you may have heard these sentiments expressed by well-meaning friends and family members. You probably felt as if someone punched in the gut or slapped you across your face. That’s how much these words can hurt. Your loved ones want to comfort and support you, but they’re at a loss for words.

Dear friends who are struggling with “What should I do? What should I say?”, read on for tips to avoid saying the wrong thing to a newly grieving parent.

 

“He/She is in a better place.” Regardless of religious beliefs, a grieving parent wants the baby alive and safe in their arms. That is the best place for them to be. So instead of saying that, help the parents to remember their lost baby. Release balloons or butterflies, make a scrapbook or plant a tree as a memorial.

“You’re young, you can always have more children.” It’s meant to be comforting and encouraging, but it makes it seem like you’re diminishing the mother’s pain. You may not have a clue as to how long a couple had been trying to conceive prior to this loss. This phrase ends up hurting instead of helping.

“It was God’s will.”/ “Everything happens for a reason.” Saying this comes across like you’re trying to downplay the loss. Yes, everything does happen for a reason, but that doesn’t mean it’s better or comforting. Right now, the mother is feeling like it’s her fault that she lost her baby and that pain is all too real. Losing a child is painful. Trying to explain it away does more harm than good.

“At least you weren’t further along.” Again, you don’t know how long a couple had been trying for and dreamed of having this baby. From the moment you find out you’re pregnant you form a bond and love for your baby. Nothing can ever take that away. Their baby is forever connected to them. Treat their loss as you would for anyone else who may have lost a loved one.

“God never gives us more than we can handle.” This statement is hardly reassuring while you are mourning the loss of your child. At that moment, a grief-stricken parent feels like their world has fallen apart and nothing can make it better.  Instead, acknowledge that they may not feel like they can handle life during this time. Be supportive by listening when they do want to talk, bringing over a meal and encouraging rest.

Just know this: it is best to keep it simple. No explanations or elaborate prose are necessary. Don’t try to fill the conversation with words because you don’t like the silence. “I’m sorry for your loss” or “I’m thinking of you and your family” go a long way. In the end just know there are no magic words to make grieving parents feel better and that’s okay. Show your love and support through acts of kindness. It would really mean a lot. Trust me.