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What to say to your friend or family member after a miscarriage or pregnancy loss

As this week (9 - 15 October) is Baby Loss Awareness Week, it’s good to be mindful about your friend or family member’s loss. Jo Tocher, the founder of Life After Miscarriage gives us some advice

by Psychologies

I lost two pregnancies and know how difficult it is to heal. As a result, I now mentor hundreds of clients through miscarriage and pregnancy loss. I know how little support I had after the event and wasn’t surprised when I carried out a survey and discovered that 95% of women had no support or counselling.

They said that one of the biggest issues was that their friends or family members weren’t there for them in the way they’d want them to be, or their partners didn’t know what to say or do.

I’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts to help you help someone who is going through this.

What NOT to say… 

“At least you know you can get pregnant”

This is probably one of the worst things you can say as it is very little comfort when you can get pregnant but are not able to carry your baby to full-term.

“You can try again”

Replacing your lost, dearly wanted baby quickly isn’t the answer as she wanted THIS baby.

“It wasn’t meant to be”

This is of little comfort as the mother is acutely aware something went wrong but can only see in hindsight that it wasn’t meant to be. At the time, all she can think about is why did this happen and why wasn’t this meant to be, why me?

“Better luck next time”

Trivialises her loss and is incredibly insensitive - the sort of thing an awkward Uncle may blurt out!

However, the worst thing you can say is nothing at all, pretending it hasn’t happened because you don’t know what to say.

DO say…

“I’m so sorry for your loss” – she will feel valued and understood.

“I’m here for you … please tell me how you are?” Sometimes she needs a shoulder to cry on and to talk about it, sometimes she needs to silently cry in her own space. Remember to keep in contact with her – a daily text or phone call helps her realise it’s not such a lonely place to be.

If you can’t visit or feel uncomfortable about it (especially if you’re pregnant or just had a baby) send her some flowers/chocolates or a meal. The last thing she’ll be thinking of is cooking. It made me so happy when a friend turned up on my doorstep with a home cooked dinner.

Do ask what they need… everyone is different – they may want to go out for a girly night, or stay in and watch a film. Or just have you be there with them. Sometimes she might just want to be alone to grieve in her own way.

In my experience, women who have lost babies need to talk about it, to be heard and their loss acknowledged. Encourage them to talk to you. Also, do be aware of anniversaries of the time it happened and her due dates… because she won’t ever forget.

Healing from this is a long process and eventually she will be ready to 'try again'. She will never forget you being there for her. Equally, she will never forget if you weren’t there for her.

Remember, it’s the small things that count.

Jo Tocher, the founder of Life After Miscarriage has 20 years experience in holistic wellbeing and has worked with thousands of clients, taking them from feeling overwhelmed and sad to acceptance and hope. She is one of only 16 energy alignment method mentors in the world.