I really believe that people mean well. Most of us are good people and we do not like to see others hurt. We may not know what to say when we learn that someone has lost a child either due to miscarriage, stillborn, or neonatal loss. There is no way for you to take the pain away. However, you can offer support to parents who have lost a child. Below are some examples of what NOT to say to a grieving parent and some options for what to say instead.
- Rationalizing: “this was for the best, especially if there were problems.” “You are young, you can always try again.” These types of statements minimize the parents pain and can make the mother feel like her sadness and anger aren’t valid. Instead: Allow the parents to talk about the loss. What did this pregnancy and baby mean to them? The parents need to be able to tell their story/ share their experiences when they are ready.
- “At least…” At least you know you can get pregnant. At least you have other children. These types of statements also minimize the parents feelings and grief. Instead: “I can’t take away your pain. I am here to support you and offer distractions if needed.” Mom may seem like she is “over it” but ask how she is doing and be ready to listen to what she says. If you don’t know how to support the family, please ask them.
- “God has a plan. These things happen for a reason.” This may seem like it sounds good, but the parents may not be religious. Even if they are religious, They could be angry and experiencing doubts of their faith. Instead: Provide practical support. Can you bring meals to the family or take care of other children. If you are not local you may be able to hire a local cleaning company to come to their house.
If you like this post, please check out my friend Michael’s post on knowing whether you have experienced trauma