Handling Insensitive Comments After a Miscarriage

It can be challenging to deal with well-meaning comments after a miscarriage.

friends comforting upset woman at coffee shop
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Many people aren't sure what to say to a woman after she suffers a miscarriage. While their intentions may be good, sometimes people say things meant to be comforting which are actually more hurtful than if they'd said nothing

When people have no personal experience with pregnancy loss, they may have no idea what to say. While it's certainly not incumbent upon the woman who has suffered the loss to educate people about the right thing to say, it's not a bad idea to be prepared in case someone says something upsetting.

It's also good for the husband or partner of the woman who has had the miscarriage to be ready to intervene to defuse a potentially unpleasant situation. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind when your friends or relatives say something that bothers you:

Get their facts straight. If your friend or relative says something to you that isn't true or accurate, let that person know. Try to keep a cool head in correcting misinformation, for your sake more than theirs. If someone is insensitive enough to suggest that something you did may have caused the miscarriage, don't be afraid to set them straight, bluntly if necessary. And there's no reason you have to continue a conversation with a rude person. Remind them you've suffered a loss and tell them you'd prefer not to discuss it further. 

Change the subject. You might not feel like spending the energy to correct someone and obviously some people will resist being corrected.

Although it can be helpful to talk about your feelings after a pregnancy loss, you probably want to stick to discussing the matter with people who listen. Don't be afraid to tell someone, "I'm sorry, but I just don't want to talk about this right now." And don't be afraid to ask an advocate, like a spouse or a sibling, to rescue you from a conversation with someone who's making you feel bad.

Smile and nod. Depending on the situation, sometimes using the tried and true "smile and nod" strategy is the best way to handle comments. If you don't feel the energy to correct someone (or if you know your efforts would be futile), just don't respond to the person's comments in a way that will encourage that person to keep talking about the subject. After a minute or two, the person will probably switch the subject and talk about something else. If they don't, that's the time to bring in a third party to help give less subtle hints to the offending person. 

Steer clear people who just don't "get it." It's not always possible to avoid people, but try to choose your company when you can. If, for example, you know that your obtuse sister-in-law is going to insist on giving you an hour-long speech about why your miscarriage was your fault and sharing her unhelpful advice on what you should do differently next time, why would you subject yourself to that kind of treatment? Request that other family members step in to prep the problematic person.

That's when you want a sister or a friend or even a parent to warn a person known for saying inappropriate things to conduct themselves with kindness instead of obnoxious and painful questioning. 

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