You Did Not Just Say That!

by Maria Karamitsos

photo, "Thankful" by Lydia Selk

Last year I had a miscarriage. I had the kind of miscarriage that could cause other health problems – and it did. I’m still undergoing treatment, so the wounds still run deep. There’s not been any opportunity for closure.

Hopefully you will never experience the grieving process that follows losing a child. There are no rules when it comes to grieving. Some days I’m fine, and other days it sneaks up on me. I imagine myself with a rapidly growing belly, or holding that amazing little creature.

All I can hope to do is try to influence and change the insensitivity that people show following a miscarriage. It’s difficult enough to deal with this loss, but when people say certain things – and many times they don’t realize that they’ve said something upsetting – it makes it worse. They say that kids say the darndest things. Well so do adults. Often times it happens when they’re simply trying to console you. I realize that most people don’t know what to say in this situation. They try to be nice, while not realizing that what they’ve said is hurtful. During a time such as this, one would expectedly be in a perpetual bad mood. Projecting anger, sadness and fear onto the world. Nerves shot, trying to figure out what went wrong. Did we do something wrong? Why did this happen? With all this going on, hormones out of control, body out of sorts, we don’t need to deal with stupid comments.

So I thought I’d advise some things to say, and some things that simply do not help. When you say these things, this is what’s going through our minds, and honestly, I feel that we can’t be held responsible for what may seem like extreme reactions to these insensitive comments:

“At least it happened now.”

It still hurts, you idiot. Whether now or later, I’ve lost my child.

“At least you have some kids already.”

Yes, thank God for them, but it doesn’t make this hurt any less. What, I can’t love more kids?

“It wasn’t meant to be.”

Sure, maybe not, but that’s the last thing I want to hear. A beautiful child wasn’t meant to be born?

“Are you sure there was a baby in there at all?” Or, “Are you sure you were even pregnant?

Duh! I didn’t imagine that morning sickness.

“You wouldn’t want a messed up baby.”

This one should get a smack for sure. Talk about insensitive!

“Thank goodness it happened now, and not after the kid was born.”

Are you kidding me? It would hurt at any stage of the game. From the moment I suspected I was pregnant, I was in love with that child. I was so excited to add to our family.  It doesn’t matter when I lost it. I lost it.

”It’s been a while now. Just get over it. Put it behind you.”

There’s no timetable on grief. This is far from over. How can I put this behind me when there are constant reminders? When someone close to you dies, remind me to tell you to “just get over it,” and see how you feel. I will learn to live with this, and go on with my life, but that void is always going to be there.

“You can have more kids.” Or, “You’ll get pregnant again.”

How do you know? As it turns out, I most likely can’t. There have been complications, and now I’m going through chemotherapy. I’d have to wait a year after I stop treatments to try to get pregnant. At that point, it would be very difficult, and the chance of problems is exponentially higher. This was probably my last chance.

Yes, people actually say these things. I’m not a violent person, but there are times when a good right cross might be in order.

Another thing ─ don’t try to make a joke out of this. You might think you’re cheering me up by introducing a little levity, but I will think you are a first class ass.

You’re wondering what you SHOULD say. There are all kinds of things that you can say, in the event that you encounter a family member or friend who’s suffered a miscarriage, here are some things that you will be much appreciated for saying:

“My prayers are with you.”

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m so sorry you have to go through this.”

“How can I help you?”

“Can I bring over dinner one night this week?”

“I’d love to come and keep you company.”

“I’m here if you need to talk, vent, or cry.”

“We know this is really hard, and we’re here for you.”

“Cry when you need to.”

“You’re strong. You’ll get through this.”

“Your angel baby is in your heart always.”

“Can I come and take your kids off your hands for a few hours, so you can get a massage or just have some time to yourself?”

When people say things like this to me, it makes me feel loved, validated, and understood. My loss has been acknowledged. I know that you genuinely care and that you are there for me.

REMINDER! Please, please, think twice before you speak. Unless you’ve been through it, you have no way of knowing that some of the things that you think are consoling are actually hurtful. Refer to this list, and you can’t go wrong. Sometimes the best thing to say is simply, “I love you.”

Now if you have a friend that’s been through this, go give them a great big hug.

 

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