What not to say to someone who lost a baby

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. WOTV 4 Women asked West Michigan moms to share their personal stories about pregnancy and infant loss.

Sad woman

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of WOTV 4 Women, its staff and/or contributors to this site.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) There is a group of women who belong to one of those clubs where no one wants to be a member. These are the moms who have said goodbye to a baby before they ever met on this side of heaven.

I myself am a member of this club, and no matter how many years have passed (for me it has been 16 years since I said goodbye to my first baby and nearly 11 years since I let go of my second “in heaven baby”), it is a journey that is never forgotten, and in this way, it is a journey that never ends.

I think it is human nature to try to explain pain. When we comfort others, we can so often say things that are intended to bring healing that instead bring pain. You know, the things that the speaker would gladly take back if only they knew the wounds their verbal barbs left behind. Words can evoke emotions that were never intended to be awoken.

In talking to several other women who are in this club with me, I have discovered that we have all shared very similar experiences when it comes to those who try to comfort us. In this club where we have said goodbye to a sweet one much too soon, I came to discover that we heard many of the same things by those who intended to soothe our wounded hearts.

These fellow members lost babies who were only a few days old while others lost babies within days of their due dates and everything in between, so this group of women is very diverse. We are different ages, have different experiences, different beliefs and different networks, yet we all have the same gaping hole in our hearts that the loss of our precious sweet ones have left behind. We all share a commonality, a bond, a heartbeat.

Please know that as we shared these comments that caused us so much pain, we also expressed that we understood how these words were well intended. These words were not meant to cripple us, yet they did.

My goal in sharing these well-intended comments is to keep women who join our club in the future, the ones who have yet to lose babies whom their heart and arms long to hold, from hearing these same things.

My purpose is to share what was said, and then to share how it made us feel. Once you understand how it made us feel, you will be able to choose different words – or no words at all.

Here are the things that these fellow club members shared with me:

  • Good thing it wasn’t really a baby. This was my child from the moment I learned the baby was coming.
  • You can always have more. But more children will never bring this one back.
  • You should feel blessed that you already have a child. I do, but I wanted this child, too.
  • This was all part of God’s plan. This just doesn’t help… it hurts.
  • Maybe this was God’s way of telling you that you shouldn’t have any more children. This one just hurts, too.
  • Well at least you didn’t know her. But I did know her, and I would have loved to know her more.
  • It’s best that it happened this way because she could have been really disabled if she had survived. I wouldn’t have cared, I would have loved this child in whatever way she came to me.
  • You should be grateful for the child you already have. I am, but that does not lessen the hurt I feel in losing this one.
  • You’ll have one some day. I long for that day, which may or may not come, but no child will ever replace this one.
  • Losing your baby was somehow meant to teach you a lesson. I can’t imagine what lesson that would be. No one should have to be taught this lesson.

These ideas were implied to various women as well, and they were very hurtful, too:

  • That she needed to be over it. She was just too sad.
  • Her pain was minimized, especially when she was told stories that “one-upped” hers.
  • Her pain was dismissed because her experience really wasn’t “that bad.”

All the moms in this club unanimously agreed that we really don’t need you to say anything. You can just give us a hug. If you do want to say something, just tell us you’re sorry. That’s it. That’s all we really need.

We are a unique group of women who have been asked to travel a path that we would not have chosen to walk. This burden did not break us, and in some ways it may make us stronger, but it is a challenging path to navigate and we will never reach the end on this side of heaven.

Please hear our hearts and choose your words carefully when comforting one of us. Sift your words through the filter we have shared here to embrace these moms rather than hurt these moms. You, and she, will be so glad you did.

Jennifer Roskamp is a busy homeschooling mom of seven who enjoys keeping a home, living an active lifestyle, and loving the little and not so little people in her life. Her mission is helping other moms find contentment in living intentionally every day. You can read more in her blog TheIntentionalMom.com.

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