Yesterday, The Miscarriage Association launched their #SimplySay campaign to highlight the different things you could say to support someone following a miscarriage – as well as some typical things to avoid…
It's really great to see organisations tackle this aspect of baby loss. It might seem like a small thing to some people, but seriously the secondary loss that comes from people not having a single clue how to talk to you is huge, irreversible and some shitty, shitty salt in an already achey wound.
I'll admit that I think we've been mostly lucky with those around us. Most have even been great, and the rest have just disappeared. We haven't had many say cringe-worthy-stab-yourself-in-the-eye type cliched phrases that others have shared. Because the shit people just left us.
People completely disappear from your life, simply because they don't know what to say (apparently – I don't actually know why they disappeared, because they just disappeared without even an attempt at saying anything…). These people can be friends and family – lifelong supporters of yours until the universe turns into the biggest evil around and lets your baby die inside of you.
If this campaign helps the next friend or family member trying to stumble through the murky waters of saying the right thing / not saying the wrong thing, then it's done a brilliant job and will help so many people. With miscarriage stats so high (1 in 4 pregnancies) everyone is bound to encounter one, two, three or probably more people in their adult life affected by baby loss.
Recently, I've been contacted by people asking how they can support a friend going through stillbirth. It shatters my heart to know of others, but warms it straight away to know that 1) we are able to help them in some small way and 2) their friend cares enough to ask the question, and not just disappear back into the world where babies don't die.
So, I thought I'd share some #say and #dontsay comments that we've had said to us following both Leo's death and our miscarriage. I'll add some context and maybe some reasonings too… just to give an insight of the internal reactions these comments can have. There are so many more, but this is just a little insight into ours.
- They are in a better place – where is better than alive with their family? Would you prefer your living children to be in that better place?
- At least you know you can carry to full term (said by my doctor after Leo died) – I'm delighted of course to discover that I can carry until term but they die inside me anyway or
- At least you know you can get pregnant – yay, I should be so pleased, I can after all get pregnant. Shame about the baby dying, but yay to falling pregnant!
- Whilst on transfer from A&E mid miscarriage Was it from the same cycle as Leo? What really are you suggesting? That my embryos are all destined to die? That a full term stillbirth and an early miscarriage are linked? Can I finish bleeding out my baby first before you quiz me on my fertility journey and give crap platitudes?
- You're young and healthy – what does this even mean? I've already lost my baby, my youth or health didn't seem too helpful then?! When people stop saying this though, you must really be in the shit.
- At least… there are no at leasts, none, don't even try with an at least.
- Again?! – Yes, again.
- Nothing – radio silence when you are heartbroken, isolated and lost is even more heartbreak on top of heartbreak. Say something – trust me, nothing is worse.
- I am angry at the universe for you – telling that person that there's cause to be angry, that it's justified and also that there is blame with the "universe" and not them (because that's who they are blaming right now)
- This is utterly shit – because it is, call a spade a spade and do so with as many expletives as you can find
- This happened to me too – essentially, saying you are not alone. The stigma means few talk about it, but when you do share, you suddenly realise how many people are affected
- I am heartbroken for you – sharing in their emotion and heartbreak validates their own emotions – when others feel it too, it's a warped comfort for the person going through it.
- Thank you for sharing your news with me – it's hard to know whether to share such hard news and realities with people, so letting them know that you feel grateful for them sharing something so personal and for trusting in you, really does help
- Say Their Name – if they've named their baby and shared it with you, use it.
- I'm sorry – if in doubt, just say you are sorry. Deeply sorry.
- How are you today? – how are you is far too profound a question following such a loss, and will be answered internally with "how the fuck do you think I am, my baby just died" – asking how someone is today is much more direct and useful as a conversation starter.
Just don't disappear on them. Least of all because of your own fear. Their fear is far greater. They just lost their baby. Potentially in quite a traumatic way. You can't accidentally remind them. This is with them forever now. Their worlds are beyond shattered and feels irreparable. The future is cloudy, and completely unknown. Keep talking to them. Be normal. Just don't disappear.
– J x