What NOT to say to someone whose had a miscarriage
“Don’t worry, just keep trying.”
It was an early morning in May of 2018, when I had woken up to the fear of every expectant mother - there was blood in my urine. Being my first pregnancy I had no idea what to expect. While trying to remain hopeful the painful reality became all too apparent at the doctor’s office: I had lost my first child.
The experience was a trying one, physically, emotionally and mentally. As support from friends and family poured in, one common phrase kept coming up: “Don’t worry, just keep trying.”
I wanted to receive this line but I had a hard time doing so even from the most well-meaning people. I thought it could have been because, at that time, I was an emotional train-wreck. But after one year and some careful reflection later I realised why. The phrase: “Don’t worry, just keep trying.” signalled to me that “this person doesn’t understand what I’m going through.”
Pregnancy is not like falling off a bike and getting up, keep trying until you learn. It’s not about just keep having sex and boom you’re pregnant again! It’s keeping track of the days that you need to be intimate. It’s waiting anxiously to see if you have your period or not. It’s the emotional rollercoaster that comes when you discover the two pink lines during the test. It’s the nausea and physical symptoms you get when your body begins to adjust. It’s the check-up after check-up to make sure the little jelly bean is doing ok. Your mind, body, spirit, wallet, work, your everything gets affected! There’s more to it than “just keep trying.”
As well-meaning as you think you are, the fact is, the people who have gone through that ordeal don’t have the courage or energy to say, “please don’t tell me to just keep trying.” It doesn’t help and whether you’re guilty of using this line or not, there were some things that did help when I went through my own ordeal:
1. ) Being Empathetic
Being empathic means putting the other person’s feelings first and foremost. “How are you feeling?” was a welcome question as this opened up a chance for me to voice my sentiments without judgment. I felt the genuine sympathy the friend or family member extended about my well being at that given moment.
2. ) Being Present
A simple hug, holding my hand, an offering to help in any way, were gestures that comforted me in my hard time. I learned that you don’t even need to say anything to make your presence felt. No fancy words, advice, or well-wishing. Just letting us know that we were not alone and we had people with us in that moment is already a big deal. The personal conversations were great, but a simple SMS were just as meaningful.
3. ) Listening Intently
Women are not obligated to share their stories upon request. When I did share, it was the people who patiently listened and asked thoughtful questions based on what I shared that helped me most. It gave me a chance to process my thoughts and air out my emotions.
Whether you want to give advice, be helpful or end on a hopeful note, avoid saying “Don’t worry, just keep trying.” and instead, try doing any of the three I mentioned above:
And Listen Intently
If you’re not already doing this, It will take some getting used to but hey don’t worry, just keep trying ;)