When I suffered a miscarriage, I had only known I was pregnant for a brief time. My fiancé and I hadn't been planning to get pregnant. In truth, I didn't have enough time to decide how I really felt about the whole thing at all. Ambivalent, anxious, caught-off-guard. I didn't know what to think. So it came as a surprise when the doctor told me I had lost the baby... and I was nearly felled by grief and guilt. It was a tough time for me, made tougher by people who said the wrong things about my miscarriage. They really could have used the #SimplySay campaign to guide them through those choppy waters. I know they were trying to help, but words like, "Well it's not like you actually wanted to be pregnant," never helped at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Looking back, I understand that people were genuinely concerned and trying to find a way to comfort me. Unfortunately, they just didn't have the right words. The #SimplySay campaign, which was created by a small charitable organization called The Miscarriage Association in the United Kingdom in August, was designed to help people understand the power behind their words. Particularly after someone has suffered a miscarriage and could be going through an intensely painful period of loss and despair.
The #SimplySay campaign asked parents who had experienced a miscarriage to share words on poster boards broken down in two lists, #Don'tSay and #Say. As Ruth Bender Atik, the national director for The Miscarriage Association explained to HuffPost:
We have long worked to encourage people to talk more openly about miscarriage, but we’ve been struck by those affected who told us that one reason they didn’t talk or share was the responses they received.
There was a long list of things people who have miscarried don't want to hear. Here are a few:
"You can try again."
"At least you can get pregnant."
"Maybe you just can't carry girls."
"Everything happens for a reason."
Despite colossal advancements in medical science, miscarriage is still by no means uncommon. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of women with a verified pregnancy experience a miscarriage, according to research by Very Well. At some point in your life, you will most likely speak to someone who has had a miscarriage, and it's important to know the right words to say.
According to the Miscarriage Association, simply expressing your condolences for their loss tends to help far more than either trite (and often misinformed) platitudes. Here what's you can say instead:
"I'm sorry, I don't know what to say."
"Is there anything I can do for you?"
Or remind them that they are allowed to feel as much sorrow as they like, without having to put on a brave face for anyone at all.
"It's OK to feel sad."
This would have helped me, personally. Helped me deal with the loss not only of a baby I didn't ever get to know, but also the loss of that glimmer of future I was subconsciously already mapping out. The world that was opening up with this tiny being.
There's a reason the video from the #SimplySay campaign has been shared and liked more than 70,000 times; people want to know how to help. People who have experienced miscarriage know what they don't want to hear.
And it's helped the participants perhaps most of all. Some reported they were able to connect with support through the Facebook campaign, and others were simply happy to have a voice. As Ruth Bender Atik noted to HuffPost:
Those who have participated – men as well as women - have told us that they are grateful for the opportunity to get their (often unspoken) feelings on this topic out there. They all want the opportunity to say "This is what I need, this helps" as well as "This really hurts, so please don’t say it."
By putting these words out there, it's undoubtedly helped so many on both sides on the conservations. Simply put, this campaign is absolutely brilliant.
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