I have my days were some things people say hit a painful chord for me, but I am blessed in that a majority of the days I do not harbor pain but rather understand that the responding person is really only trying to be helpful. I draw from my personal past experience of saying insensitive things to others going through loss (previous to my own experiences with loss) in order to find grace for those who make some of these potentially painful comments to me.
I remember some of the things I have said to others going through miscarriage or loss:
- you're young - you have plenty of time (or anything that has to do with time)
- you'll have a family someday (or "it'll happen")
- it's all about stress, relax and you'll have a baby
and then there are other things that I may not have said to anyone, stuff that I've heard (not personally in most cases) that have caused pain:
- it was just a miscarriage, not a baby
- it wasn't meant-to-be/God's plan
- maybe you want a baby too much, so God isn't giving you one
- maybe you're not ready to be a parent
- it was for the best since the baby probably wasn't good anyhow
- at least you don't have deal with my [insert pregnancy/infant/toddler complaints here]
- well at least you're having fun trying
I am an active member of a few fertility boards and I find that many infertiles are plauged with insensitive friends. However, I believe that most infertiles hear the insensitivity in the comment - even if it's not meant to be communicated that way. (We who are going through fertility issues are also dealing with a lot of pain, which causes a less then healthy emotional state [I know this all to well] we are pretty tattered having experienced what we have - so I believe that yes, some of these comments seem insensitive .... but you have to remember that we are in a sensitive state, so even comments that weren't meant to hurt are still heard with a sting.) I also believe that these friends may not be "insensitive" but rather - unaware. I'm constantly confronted with people IRL who are suprised that I'm taking these losses so hard. So part of the purpose of this post (and really this blog in general) is to help those who don't get it ... get it.
My motivation for this post, is for "friends of infertiles" to read and understand how best to respond when hearing about a miscarriage, either the woman's first or (God forbid) her fourteenth. Really, the best thing to say is .... as little as possible! Coupled with a hug and maybe a card, a drink, some flowers, some chocolate, some coffee - really, whatever your infertile friend enjoys. But the main point is ... words are best in moderation. (and no, I'm not lobbying for some goodies should I have a next miscarriage ;-))
At work they did a training presentation on how to best handle someone who has recently gone through a traumatic event (specific event not applicable to this post) ... anyhow the psychologist said that the 50 first words said are the most important to the recipient, and she proceeded to hand out a little card that we can carry with us in case we were ever in the situation to use it. As I read the card I realized the first part of it (the stuff that was non-event specific) is so applicable for someone going through loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death).
Here's the suggested words to use:
"I'm sorry this happened to you. It's not your fault. How can I help?"
So when at a loss for words ... remember this phrase, and follow it up with a big hug.
***Note to all my IRL friends: no need to be concerned about any comments you may have said to me in the past. I have a horrible memory (just ask Berilac! He's never having to deal with me drudging up the past - short term memory is all I've got!) so even if you did say something - I honestly don't remember. I'm not thinking of any specific comment made to me by anyone. I am not upset about anything that was said or not said, done or not done ... I'm only trying to help people understand a bit more about what it's like to experience loss like this ... and perhaps provide some insight to those who haven't experienced it to know how to better love people who are suffering with this.