What Not to Say to Someone Who Has Lost a Baby {Guest Post}

Today’s post is a guest post by Jennifer Roskamp and was originally published at Intentional Mom.

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There is a group of us women who belong to one of those clubs that no one wants to be a member of. These are the moms who have said goodbye to a baby before they ever met on this side of heaven.

I myself am a member of this club, and no matter how many years have passed (for me it has been 16 years since I said goodbye to my first baby and nearly 11 years since I let go of my second “in heaven baby”), it is a journey that is never forgotten, and in this way, it is a journey that never ends.

I think it is human nature to try to explain pain. When we comfort others, we can so often say things that are intended to bring healing that instead bring pain. Things that the speaker would gladly take back if only they knew the wounds their verbal barbs left behind. Words can evoke emotions that were never intended to be awoken.

In talking to several other women who are in this club with me, the club where we have said goodbye to a sweet one much too soon, I came to discover that we heard many of the same things by those who intended to soothe our wounded hearts. 

These fellow members lost babies who were only a few days old while others lost babies within days of their due dates and everything in-between, so this group of women is very diverse. We are different ages, have different experiences, different beliefs, and different networks, yet we all have the same gaping hole in our hearts that the loss of our precious sweet ones has left behind. We all share a commonality, a bond, a heartbeat.

Please know that as we shared these comments that caused us so much pain, we also all expressed that we understood how these words were well intended. These words were not meant to cripple us, yet they did.

My goal in sharing these well intended comments is to keep women who join our club in the future, the ones who have yet to lose babies who their heart and arms long to hold, from hearing these same things. My purpose is to share what was said, and then to share how it made us feel. Once you understand how it made us feel, you will be able to choose different words – or no words at all.

  • Good thing it wasn’t really a baby. This was my child from the moment I learned they were coming.
  • You can always have more. But more children will never bring this one back.
  • You should feel blessed that you already have a child. I do, but I wanted this child, too.
  • This was all part of God’s plan. This just doesn’t help…it hurts.
  • Maybe this was God’s way of telling you that you shouldn’t have any more children. This one just hurts, too.
  • Well at least you didn’t know her. But I did know her, and I would have loved to know her more.
  • It’s best that it happened this way because she could have been really disabled if she had survived. I wouldn’t have cared, I would have loved this child in whatever way she came to me.
  • You should be grateful for the child you already have. I am, but that does not lessen the hurt I feel in losing this one.
  • You’ll have one someday. I long for that day, which may or may not come, but no child will ever replace this one.
  • Losing your baby was somehow meant to teach you a lesson. I can’t imagine what lesson that would be. No one should have to be taught this lesson.

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These ideas were implied to various women as well, and they were very hurtful, too.

  • That she needed to be over it. She was just too sad.
  • Her pain was minimized, especially when she was told stories that “one-upped” hers.
  • Her pain was dismissed because her experience really wasn’t that bad.

All the moms in this club unanimously agreed that we really don’t need you to say anything. You can just give us a hug. If you do want to say something, just tell us you’re sorry. That’s it. That’s all we really need.

We are a unique group of women who have been asked to travel a path that we would not have chosen to walk. This burden did not break us, and in some ways it may make us stronger, but it is a challenging path to navigate.

Please hear our hearts and choose your words carefully when comforting one of us. Sift your words through the filter we have shared here to embrace these moms rather than hurt these moms. You, and she, will be so glad you did.

lost a babyJennifer is a busy, homeschooling mom of seven who enjoys keeping a home, living an active lifestyle, and loving the little and not so little people in her life. Her mission is helping other moms find contentment in living intentionally every day over at her blog, The Intentional Mom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

First photo courtesy of Pixabay. All other images are courtesy Jennifer Roskamp. This post is linked up with several blog hops. You can see everywhere I link up here.

  • Christina Marie Morales

    I am so sorry for your loss. I am fortunately not apart of this club, but I am apart of the will I ever get pregnant club, and we have our own things that no one should say, so I totally understand where you are coming from. I think people are trying to help or maybe just think it’s an awkward situation and don’t know what else to say, but this is not an easy thing to go through…and my experience is nothing compared to yours! Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Beautifully written post! Me too have tried having miscarriage and it was the most devastating part of my life, I kept blaming myself which I shouldn’t. I know how hard it is for people to go through this bad experience of losing a child. Thanks for sharing! #sharewithme

  • Constance Ann Morrison

    There’s a lot of forgiveness needed when people say awkward and unintentionally hurtful things. I found that often people cared, but really didn’t know what to say or do. Thanks for pointing out some of the painful things people say and how that makes us feel after a loss. You’re right — sometimes a hug and a simple “I’m sorry” is enough.

  • Joanna McCaffrey

    That is a very helpful post. And well written.
    I had an ectopic pregnancy a few years ago. I never really spoke about it in public until I came across the Don’t Talk About the Baby Project. It’s a documentary in the making aiming to remove the stygma of pregnancy loss, to allow women to talk about it openly and share their experiences. This is helpful in healing process. And also shows how common miscarriages are (apparently 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage), with aim to show women it’s not their fault. That there is nothing wrong with them, so they should not alienate themselves and feel guilty.
    #sharewithme

  • What a powerful list to share. There’s a fine line between comfort and pain when it comes to such a sensitive and often hard to discuss subject such as a lost child. And you’re right: these sentiments were probably meant for comfort, but instead came out as crippling.

    I’m a firm believer that words can be powerful, but in situations like this, perhaps actions speak louder. The simple gesture of being there, to hold a hand, to offer help, may be enough to help with the healing process. And who knows? Perhaps through that unending support, the right words will finally come to fruition.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful post with us on #SHINEBloghop this week. We’re so happy you could join us.

  • It really is hard to know what the right and wrong thing to say is so this is very helpful and great to share and let us know what isn’t right as I would be mortified if I ever offend or upset or hurt anyone by what I have said. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme