October is the month to raise awareness for many things. One of the less familiar things is the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed, “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses his or her partner, they are called a widow or a widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.”
According to PILARI an estimated 500,000 miscarriages happen each year; 1 in every 148 babies are stillborn; and 3 in every 1000 babies die shortly after birth. This is a journey that many women and families go through, but it has always been a taboo topic to discuss. Why on earth should anyone suffer silently?
After experiencing loss of my own, I quickly realized that people just simply don’t know what to say. Therefore, they either say something totally damaging, avoid the topic all together, or just stay away from the hurting family. This leads to not only the emptiness one feels with this type of loss but also a loneliness in the struggle.
This is important. This is something that needs to be talked about.
People, I beg you, do not become unreachable to those you know struggling from loss. Maybe you don’t know anyone right now, but look at the numbers given above. At some point, you WILL know someone. They need you. How will you know what to do, or what to say? How can you help?
I can only speak from the point of someone who has journeyed through multiple miscarriages, but I imagine others who have gone through these valleys have heard very similar things. So here are some pointers..
Things not to say to someone experiencing these types of loss:
- “Maybe something would have been seriously wrong with the baby!”
- “It’s just not God’s timing.”
- “At least you weren’t THAT far along.”
- “Now they don’t have to grow up in this crazy world.”
- “Shouldn’t you be over it by now?”
Yes. These are actual things people have said.
Let me shed some light on why these are things not to say. Regarding statement one, even if something was terribly wrong with the baby, for many that simply doesn’t matter. When you carry a child, no matter how short that time may be, there is an instant love. There is nothing so wrong, that could take that love away. Statement two, while very true, is not comforting. It was one of those things where I, as a child of God, know that His timing is perfect. In that moment, I was angry at God so hearing that statement over and over halted my healing. Statement three, no matter how far along, as soon as the test turned positive I knew there was life. And it mattered! Statement 4, I had dreams that THAT baby could be a world changer. Finally, statement 5, healing eventually takes place but you never really get over it. Even now that I have two healthy beautiful boys that I carried full term and God is allowing me to raise, I still long for those that I never got to hold in my arms.
What to say instead:
“I’m sorry. I’m here when you need me.”
Easy. And then pray. Pray as often as you think about them. Let them know that you are praying.