The days and weeks following my miscarriage were some of the hardest of my life. I was reeling from the physical and emotional pain following my D&C. The days seemed unbearably long, and even so, I needed medication to help me sleep at night. Then I had to get up every day and mother my other two children, even though all I wanted to do was stay in bed and cry. I struggled every day to come to terms with the fact that all the hopes and dreams I had built up over the past three months were gone. My baby was gone.
What made it even more difficult was the fact that no one seemed to know what to say to me. My friends and family would just stare at me with a pitying look, because really, what could they say to make it better? I didn't even know what I wanted or needed to hear after my miscarriage. My needs changed day by day, or even hour by hour. Sometimes I would want to go out for a meal and talk about anything except my miscarriage. Some days I wanted to sit down an talk it all out, doling out an uncomfortable play-by-play of every thought that went through my mind. All I really needed was to know that someone was there for me, to hold space for me, no matter what I required.
Everyone grieves differently when it comes to miscarriage, but one thing is certain: You need people to support you in your grief. It is such a devastatingly lonely experience, and I will always remember and appreciate those who reached out to me after my miscarriage. Whether it was to be silent and listen, or to tell me I wasn't alone, no effort went unnoticed.
Here some other women share what they needed to hear (or not hear) after they lost their babies:
Katie F., 27
"After my miscarriage, I needed to hear that it was OK to grieve and to be so sad, even though it was a relatively early loss (5.5 weeks). I wanted someone to understand that it was so much more than a 'clump of cells' to me. It represented so many hopes and dreams and plans, and just like that, they were gone. Despite how early on I was, that baby felt like a little person, and another member of our family already, inside my heart."
Tonja M., 28
"What I needed to hear most was 'I love you, and it will be OK. It wasn't in our cards yet.'"
Maggie E., 41
"After my miscarriage, I received cards of condolence from family, work, and friends, and my husband could not have been more at my side, more supportive, or more open-hearted in his grief, which is what I needed. I needed for the loss to be treated as a real loss, and not just a blip on the screen. This was our baby we lost."
Jin L., 23
"I would have loved someone, anyone, to have acknowledged the fact that I had a 'baby.' Every time it happened, doctors never used the word 'baby.' All of [my miscarriages] were before the 12-week mark, although my first was at 11 weeks. Within a day of finding out I was pregnant, I instantly felt a connection to a life, and my mind exploded with a billion thoughts. I felt really protective over this little life that I wasn't even prepared for. When I lost it, I got that same medical explanation and just never felt validated. I wanted someone to tell me I lost a baby, and that it was horrible. Instead, I felt embarrassed by feeling devastated. It 'happens all the time,' right?"
Kimberly R., 31
"I had a nurse tell me 'tons of people will tell you sweet or thoughtful things like: When it is meant to be it will happen. Although it comes from a good place you will probably still want to punch them in the face. That is OK. Eventually you will get to the place that you can hear those things and appreciate it, but allow yourself time to grieve and process.' I appreciated her honesty and wisdom."
Sally C., 46
"I HATED being told, 'well you can have another one,' or worse yet, 'maybe you are not supposed to have children.' The fact that my sister became pregnant at exactly the same time as me (we would have had our children within a month of each other) was hard, and even though I was happy for her and happy when my nephew was born, only one person asked me how I was doing at that time. It helped to have someone acknowledge my pain and suffering, and it meant a lot to me that she had made a note of when my baby would have been due."
Vanessa S., 38
"I'm not sure anyone had the right words. I think the friends who were OK with just letting me move through my grief quietly and support me without all the 'it wasn't the right time' business."
Melanie P., 39
"I am not sure there are right words. You have all these plans and dreams and then they're just gone. All the people who told me that the 'baby wouldn't have been healthy,' and that it was just 'was better this way' didn't really help. I think you just need time to grieve and then process it."
Brigitte S., 29
"I think I just needed friends to ask how I was and then sit and be silent with me. There weren't always words, but oh, so many emotions. And you push them away on a daily basis to get through life, so it took a while for me to feel safe enough to feel the pain and sorrow. Many people just brushed aside the miscarriage or [made] cliché comments because they didn't know how to react. But a thoughtful little something and just being present was all I wanted and what meant the most. We had three [miscarriages] right in a row: 11 [weeks], 7 [weeks], 5 [weeks]. No matter how small of time, the dreams were still there — and [so was] the pain."
Julie V., 30
"I really wanted my friends to just listen and stop trying to make it better. I had people tell me it wasn't meant to be, or that something might have been wrong with the baby so it was 'for the best.' I know they didn't mean to hurt me with comments like that, but it made it even more painful for me."