What to say to those who are experiencing loss.

21 Jan

There was a post from a blogger going around the blogosphere for a while about what not to say to someone who miscarries and I’ve touched on the subject before.  This particular list was fantastic and I wish I could link to it right now (if anyone knows which one I’m talking about, please list it in the comments).  Obviously, if you have read this blog or any of the posts from other women who have miscarried, you know that this is one of the hardest things to deal with in a pregnancy loss.  Even the people you trust with your life, even your partner, will not say the right thing.  It’s not their fault of course.  They have no idea what to say because they have no idea what it feels like.  You have to remind yourself that they’re saying it from a good place and they just want to make your pain go away.  Hell, they want their pain of being faced with the pressure of saying the right thing to go away. It just all around sucks to not be able to get what you need from the people you love (and don’t love), and is a large part why I’ve spent the last 7 months in my house.  Honestly, my trip to North Carolina last week was the first time I had been out of my little bubble for a long time.   It was a difficult adjustment.  I was faced with my social insecurities at the beginning of the week when there was a possibility of spending an evening in a small house with a 2-month old.  It caused me to panic – I broke down at the thought of having to be so close to such a young baby.  The awful part of that was I wanted to so badly to see her parents, but I didn’t think I had it in me to be around their child and had to request that we find something else to do instead.  Fortunately, they ended up not being able to come, so it worked out.  But the guilt and sadness and fear and pain I felt all wrapped into one was sheer hell.  I broke down into a mess of tears and sadness, and ended up pouring my sad little guts out to my friends.  I think that up until that point, Sara hadn’t realized the pain I was still in because she hadn’t seen me since the last miscarriage in February.  (Also, I think I’ve gotten a lot better at covering it up.)  But when I was faced with my fear like that, I couldn’t hide it any longer.  A few days later another friend was with us and asked me flat out what she should say to someone in the future if she is ever faced with that situation.  I honestly think there is only one thing I have ever wanted to hear: “I am so sorry you’re going through this.”  8 simple words and nothing more.  Even if for some evil reason you’re really not feeling sorry for her, say it anyway.  Even if you think that they should be over it by now, or if you think they’re being over-dramatic, say it anyway.  Nothing you say will take the pain away, but acknowledging that their pain is real, will make all the difference.

The day before I left, Sara told me that her boyfriend’s friend had called earlier in the day and told him she had had a miscarriage.  Sara asked her what he said to her, and he replied, “I said what Courtney said to say, ‘I’m sorry.'”  My heart leapt when I heard this.  I can’t tell you what this meant to me.  Throughout these last months, I have wanted nothing more but to help other women that are going through this — to somehow let them know they’re not alone, even if they’re strangers.  I felt like I accomplished a little bit of that for this woman.  He was one person that gave her exactly what she needed.  She may still very well feel alone in all this, but someone acknowledged her pain, and that simple gesture is helping her heal, little by little.

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10 Responses to “What to say to those who are experiencing loss.”

  1. Kristin January 21, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    You did good Courtney. RPL is it’s own special kind of hell and I am so very sorry you have been subjected to it. I didn’t go through primary infertility but I went through a boatload of losses while fighting secondary infertility. If you think there is anything I can do to help or any information you might want to pick my brain about, feel free to contact me either by email or via my blog.

    • bodegabliss January 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

      Thanks so much, Kristin! That’s so sweet.

  2. Rebecca January 21, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Here from ICLW. Very true that “I’m sorry” is really the only thing that helps. I’m incredibly sorry for your loss. I’ve been through it, too, and it is so hard and doesn’t go away.

  3. slcurwin January 21, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    I know that lots of us have touched on this before. I did post a list a while back, but I think that was before anyone was reading. http://slcurwin.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/what-not-to-say-to-someone-after-a-miscarriage/

    I can’t remember who else (although I’ve seen a few in the last few months) posted.

    I’m still thinking of making this into a t-shirt. I hate stupid comments from lack of awareness.

    • bodegabliss January 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

      Yes, I remember reading yours! Great list. And all of it is so true!

      I feel like all of us are doing our hardest to get the awareness out, you know? If enough of us do it, it’s bound to work eventually!

      • slcurwin January 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

        That’s my hope

  4. Hope January 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    I am very sorry for your losses. I hope that you get your rainbow baby soon. (((Hugs)))

    I absolutely agree that the best thing anyone can say is, “I’m sorry.” I think people want to be “original” or “helpful” but I don’t mind hearing “I’m sorry” over and over. Like you said, it acknowledges my pain, and that’s usually why I’m talking about my miscarriages, because I want someone to hear my pain.

    (BTW, Thanks for your comment on my blog.)

  5. Fee January 21, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Hi from ICLW
    It is definately hard, I have had 2 very early MC at 4.5 and 5.5 weeks and even though i was devestated i have no idea what it would be like for someone having a MC at say 12 or 20 weeks. Im sorry is about all anyone should say. I really hate when my Sister in Law says she had one between her 2 kids (20 years ago)like its no big deal and keep trying it will happen like its that easy. Somepeople just shouldnt comment.
    ICLW#51

  6. Jessica January 21, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    Stopping by for ICLW….

    Such a simple phrase that is so hard to put together. It is pretty universal regardless of the kind of loss.

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