When a woman experiences a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other pregnancy or infant loss, it is only natural for people to want to say something. Though they may not know the exact words to say, they may reach out and try to say something they think would be comforting. Sometimes the comments can come off as insensitive or hurtful, even if that was not the original intention. Instead of finding comfort in the words, you may find yourself even more upset. In this blog post, we will give you some examples of how to respond to hurtful comments after a pregnancy loss so you can feel supported and understood.
It can be incredibly hard to know how to respond to people at times. It is important to know how to stand up for our needs, while still trying to be respectful. Most people are not intentionally trying to be hurtful, but will not learn to change what they say until they understand why exactly it is painful to hear. When we are grieving, we may not have the energy to deal with these situations. These suggestions can help you feel more confident in your response.
You may also want to read A to Z Emotions of Pregnancy Loss: Understanding the Grief Process.
Table of Contents
- Stand up for yourself. If you do not address the insensitive comments head on, they will likely not stop. People will not understand that their words have hurt you if you do not tell them.
- Try to be understanding. I know this can be hard since you were the one who just suffered the loss. Keep in mind that most people are not intentionally trying to be hurtful and are only saying something they think will be comforting to you. Understanding it from this perspective may help it be slightly less hurtful because you know they were not speaking with ill intent.
- Write it in a letter. If it is too hard to speak to someone directly, try writing how you feel in a letter and giving it to them. Sometimes it is easier to write out our words than to speak them.
- Don’t hold it in. Holding in your emotions for a long period of time will only let the feelings build up until you explode in anger. Addressing them and helping to cut off the comments at the beginning will keep this from happening and hopefully help stop the insensitive comments altogether.
“You can try again.” or “You can have another baby.”
It is perfectly okay to say that you appreciate the thought, but this is not what you want or need to hear right now. You can tell them that it has only been a short time since the loss and even though they are suggesting something hopeful for your future, at this moment all you feel like doing is grieving your current situation. By saying this, they are trying to tell you there is still hope for you to have a child in the future. They may not realize they are not being considerate of your grief and the child you just lost.
Try saying something like, “I know that I can try again later, but I am not ready to think about this right now. I currently need some time to grieve over the baby I just lost. Thank you for understanding.” It might be good to remind them that your child was loved and wanted and that you need time to properly grieve them. Another reminder to them might be that even if you do choose to have children in the future, they will not be a replacement for the child you lost.
“At least you know you can get pregnant.”
Being able to get pregnant is only half of the battle sometimes. Loss can happen to anyone, during any pregnancy. Even if you have already had children or can easily get pregnant, you can still have a loss. By making this comment, people are trying to somehow ease the pain by essentially saying that you can just get pregnant again and have another baby.
This type of statement can use a response similar to the above about trying again for another baby. Remind them that you need time to grieve the loss of this baby and that future children do not replace the child you lost. You can try saying something along the lines of, “It is good to know that I can get pregnant, but that does not make going through this loss any easier. I need time to focus on getting through this grief first.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
This phrase is often used to try to comfort people who have gone through a variety of tough situations. While it may be true that everything does happen for a reason, at this moment you may not see or understand what that reason is. This comment might make you feel like your feelings and experiences are invalid. Sometimes, even when we may know the reason why something occurred, it does not make it any easier to accept or understand.
We lost our daughter, Jasmine, to mosaic trisomy 15 and a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). You can read more of her story here. We were told by the doctors and a genetics counselor that there was a less than 1-2% chance of a pregnancy having this and very unlikely that it would occur again. We knew the exact reason why we lost her and yet, that still did not make it any easier to deal with the loss.
You can respond to comments like this by saying something along the lines of, “I do not understand why this happened to me and I may never know the reason, but that does not make it any easier.” Or with something like “I do know the reason this happened, but that does not make it easier to deal with this heartbreaking loss.”
“At least you were not very far along.”
This comment tries to make the loss seem less significant because you were not very far along in the pregnancy. It does not matter how far along you were in the pregnancy because all losses deserve to be acknowledged and grieved over. A loss is not made easier because you were only a certain number of weeks. We start planning for our lives with the new baby the moment we start trying or see that positive test. Minimizing the loss because you were not that far along is not helpful and can make the person who has experienced the loss feel like their feelings do not matter.
The best response to this type of comment is to explain that you may have been earlier in the pregnancy, but that it did not make the baby any less special to you. “I may have only been x number of weeks along, but the pregnancy and the baby were very real to me.” Remind them that you had already started making plans and having dreams for this baby and your family. Once people see it from this perspective, they will hopefully refrain from making comments like this in the future.
“You could always adopt.”
This comment is hurtful because it minimizes the loss of your child while also minimizing your desire to have a biological child. Grieving the loss of your child now does not mean you will not try again in the future. You need time to properly grieve and process all your feelings. Adopting is not something that you should feel rushed into doing because of someone else’s comments or pressures. A loss also does not mean you should automatically give up all hopes of having a biological child.
You can respond to this by saying, “I do want a biological child and I may think about adopting in the future, but I need time to mourn.” Or simply say, “I understand that you are trying to help, but right now I am not ready to think about adoption. I need time to process my loss.” These responses are a nice way of letting them know that these comments are unwelcome.
“Shouldn’t you move on by now?”
Grief is on our own timeline and may look different for everyone. This comment is based on what people feel the “proper” grief timeline should look and feel like. This will not necessairly be the same for you. The grief can come and go in waves. Some may wish to return to work and be as “normal” as possible. Others may need to take more time off and spend more time grieving. Neither is right or wrong. The ways we choose to handle our grief should be respected by the family and friends in our lives.
You can respond to this comment by saying, “Grief is different for everyone and I need more time to process my feelings. Please give me the space to do that.” Or you can say, “I know that this is not what you are expecting from me, but I need more time.” This lets them know that their comments are not welcome and that you will be handling your grief in your own way and on your own time.
“It was God’s will.”
This comment is hurtful because it implies that God chose for this to happen to you or that you did something to deserve this. It can feel like they are saying that your child dying was part of God’s plan and it was meant to be this way. This will have people questioning their faith if someone close to them implied that the death of their child was just a part of some yet unknown plan.
You can respond to this comment by saying, “I still wonder why God chose for this to happen. I am even struggling with my faith right now and need some space to sort things out.” This lets them know how hurtful the comment is and that you need some space to grieve and sort through all your emotions.
Dealing with insensitive comments can be disheartening at times, especially when you hear them from your close family and friends. Knowing how to respond to these comments can help you feel more empowered and hopefully keep these people from making comments like this in the future. Hopefully this post has helped you learn some ways to respond to hurtful comments after a pregnancy loss. Have you had people make insensitive comments to you after your loss? How did you respond to them? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments.
You may also like:
How to Tell Your Kids About a Pregnancy Loss
7 Ways To Reconnect With Your Partner After A Pregnancy Loss
15 Songs About Baby Loss
24 Books to Read After a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Pregnancy Loss
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