Are you wondering what to say after miscarriage to a friend or loved-one? It's a situation that leaves many of us tongue-tied. Why? It's because our patriarchal, male world is uncomfortable with female fertility and finds it hard to deal with the internal world beyond thought - e.g. feelings and intuition. (I explore this further in the meaning of miscarriage).
In addition, as logic and reason represent the comfort zones we have been educated into, there is a fear around the emotions of fertility - especially negative fertility emotions. In short, we are petrified of making things worse by saying the wrong thing.
Sound familiar? Well, it's totally understandable because we haven't been taught about emotions, the purpose they serve or how to manage them in a way that empowers. (In other words we have not learned even the most basic aspects of our Creative Feminine™ because prevailing, patriarchal wisdom doesn't understand that yet.)
So you can easily feel like you are walking on egg shells around what to say after miscarriage - whether or not miscarriage grief is evident. But it doesn't have to be that way.
My intention here is to help you to respond to miscarriage in a way that feels good for you, supports your friend and nourishes your relationship. In this video and article, I share an example from my second miscarriage of what to say after miscarriage - because these words embraced me deeply. I will also suggest some other phrases you might like to consider at this time
This memory was triggered while visiting my parents' home in Ireland which is where my miscarriage occurred. I was in the back-kitchen - as it is called - a small room with just enough space for the essentials including a slim table and a couple of stools.
It was just prior to our planned departure to hospital. In spite of contractions, significant blood-loss and a dream I'd had - about our baby returning to the sun and the moon and stars (as we say at our house) - I was fighting the idea that I might be having a miscarriage.
I just didn't want it to be real or true. (And I didn't know then what I know now about the Creative Feminine™). But then something beautiful happened. Allow me to set the scene with the intention of helping you to feel more comfortable about what to say after miscarriage....
Propped over the little table, pressing heavy hands into a hot mug of tea, I was getting my head around the idea that I needed to go to hospital. His navy, striped apron protecting him gallantly, my father washed the dishes a few feet in front of me. Apart from the occasional clatter of wet cutlery finding a temporary home on the draining board, there was silence.
A booming kind of silence begging desperately for something... Donning my all-too-familiar, logical perspective, I muttered something about acceptance. But with towel in wet hands, he turned to me and said slowly "It's not over yet Dee".
Sounds simple, but this short statement filled the yearning silence with exactly what it had been screaming for. Even though my outer reality had not changed one iota, this comment filled my heart with joy and soothed me deeply. Let me explain...
Why did that phrase have such an impact on me? On reflection, there were many boxes it ticked. First of all, instead of genuflecting to the patriarchal rule of 'we cannot speak about miscarriage', my dad's words etched onto the blackboard "we can and we will!".
Secondly, rather than meet me in the trauma (which has it's place too), or allowing me to recoil into reason, he called me into the present, into not-knowing-for-sure and into being open to possibility. And this felt so much better that the logical 'knowing' it was over.
Thirdly, even if it seemed that all was lost and my dreams were being dashed, it returned me to my vision of what I wanted to create (family) - so I could keep shining my light on that regardless. It may sound weird, but I now see this journey will my little daughter (Doireann) as one of the most beautiful gifts of my life. Because it taught me so much.
In terms of what to say after miscarriage, I discovered first hand how precious hope is. My dad's comments gave me permission to believe that:
It made me realise just how significant hope is in having a baby after 40. And years later, was part of what prompted me to write an article exploring the whole notion of false hope in fertility. Because it is completely misunderstood in my view.
The patriarchal approach and it's linear interpretation of life just cannot grasp what miscarriage is really about. It has frozen us into a silence that prevents the beauty, dignity and significance of this life and life-experience to contribute to our evolution in the way it can...
My dad's words, in that moment, felt like a stream of sunshine embracing me and I will always treasure them, that memory and the awareness of how important it is to give people permission to hold their dreams even if, on the outside, it appears not to be working out.
So how can this help you to know what to say after miscarriage ? Recall that, even if it is 'over' on the surface, it's not over for your friend. She is still in a process and on her journey of motherhood - just from a different perspective. Her understanding of this experience and relationship with her baby, in many ways, have only just begun.
There are no perfect words. What matters mostly is that you recognise that something important has happened. And that you can listen. Because her sharing helps her to discover the meaning in it for her. And that is what matters most. If you don't know what to say, express that in the following way for example:
"I don't know what to say .....but I know this is important and that your baby matters......
You don't have to know how this baby matters. Perhaps she will inspire a blog post that will someday support a grieving woman. It's not important at this point.
But when you acknowledge that, in spite of the patriarchal silence, this woman's baby, motherhood and experience matter - it feels like a breath of fresh air. You don't need to say much. One statement is often sufficient.
It might open the floodgates but you can decide to be okay with that. Even if patriarchy wants her to be poised and get over it, this expression is a very healthy part of the grieving process and it does not need to be fixed. Feminine wisdom listens, not to solve the problem, but because she knows there is value and healing in the experience of being heard and accompanied.
Neither do you need to provide any answers - as we are wont to believe in patriarchy. Trust that she will find her own answers - in her own time.
"Right now you have many questions and, in time, you will find answers within". (She might find this post useful on 'what to do after miscarriage'.
Understand that this is a journey that will unfold for years to come. I am still learning so much from my three children who died in my womb. That's okay now. In fact, it is lovely.
Other phrases that you could use are:
It is important to understand, and often valuable to let her know, that love cannot be measured in months. And the physical size of the baby has no bearing whatsoever on the pain that can emerge. (You might like to see one embryo died and IVF failed if they are relevant). Nor does it matter if there are other healthy children around.
You will honour your friend when you let her know that this tiny life deserves to be mentioned, is a member of this family and is an addition to the world even if we can't imagine how yet.
In later conversations, or if there is a lot of sharing in this one, you can ask if she has named her baby or would like to. Or if there is any special way she would like to mark this life.
And allow yourself to revisit the conversation even months or years later with questions like "what is it like for you now when you think about your baby?" or "what is your nicest memory from that pregnancy?". Trust your own feminine wisdom to know what to say after miscarriage and give yourself permission to take this precious journey with your friend one baby step at a time.
I hope there was value in this for you and would love to hear your experience around what to say after miscarriage. What helped you most? What didn't help at all? Please share below because your feminine contribution here really matters too!
Let me coach you - so you can feel comfort and peace instead now.