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5 things (not) to say to someone who's miscarried.

With hospital pillows propping me up, I looked over at the school-hall style chair by the door in the ward of four. Having been admitted just after midnight, I’d spent restless hours trying to sleep, but all the time knowing what was happening inside my body.


Now looking over at the chair I thought “I want to be that chair, because it doesn’t have to feel anything. Nothing means anything to you if you’re a chair.” I just simply didn’t want to have to feel.


I’d already accepted in the early hours that we’d lost our baby. Or that I had ‘miscarried.’ Somehow it is easier to disconnect from the growing form that had for some reason stopped growing if I say I had a miscarriage, because you don’t risk connecting it to an actual being.


Just three days earlier, Stuart had proposed to me. Happily engaged, I had sat in the hotel restaurant at dinner that evening, wondering in amazement at the sparkly ring I was wearing and revelling in showing off a tummy that was starting to swell in my close-cut dress. Yet now here we were, with a full stop being abruptly put to all that celebration and frivolity.


Coming home from hospital I felt let down by my body, numb and terribly sad.


Over the following weeks, being told ‘It’s so common’ just made me feel worse. Rather than being comforted by those well meaning words, it somehow gave me the impression I shouldn’t feel so bad really, because it happens to lots of women. So what? I’m not lots of women, I’m just me, and telling me that it is common subtly informs me that it shouldn’t matter as much. But it does. It’s a uniquely deep pain, that should never be diminished just because it’s a common occurrence.


A friend innocently asked “Do you think it's something you did?”, as if somehow I’d contributed to the reason I lost the baby. This caused me to question every choice I’d made during those previous few months. I now realise I hadn’t done anything. For reasons we will never know, that pregnancy just wasn’t meant to continue.


Having a miscarriage is like planning the trip of a lifetime only to have it cancelled overnight, with no reason given by the travel operator you’d booked it with. Of course, there may be chances for future trips, but you were really bloody looking forward to this one.



I found having a miscarriage to be quite a unique experience. You’re essentially in mourning and in grief, but it’s so often not a tangible experience for others to ‘get’. And in many ways, it’s unfair to expect others to get it. It’s an intimate process that’s most likely very privately happening while the rest of the world selfishly keeps on turning.


However, my Mom was someone who did just get it. She kept a check on me without smothering, seeming to understand the sadness without me needing to spell it out. This was my second miscarriage and when I told her I simply couldn't face the prospect of trying for another baby for the fear of ever having to go through this again, her reply?


"Never say never". I think that she must have known there really wasn't any more that could, or should, be said.


Because, whilst I can tell you what not to say, unfortunately there aren’t really any words you can offer a couple who have miscarried that will soften the blow. But here's the thing; you don't need to.


Simply acknowledging it has happened is key. You're awkwardness around the subject won't compare with the sadness they are likely feeling. So ask them how they are feeling. Their response could range from a brief "yeah, I'm fine" to an emotional outpouring (or something in between the two) but the important part here is that you've asked. This act of kindness won't go unnoticed.


They don’t need to be buoyed by “Well at least you know you can get pregnant” or “At least you weren’t too far along” (a crushing, pointless statement). They just need to know you are there for them, feeling their loss and accepting of how they need to deal with it. No diminishing it with cheery encouragement for “next time.” They just need to feel seen and cared for.


If miscarriage is something you have been unfortunate to experience, are there any more what not to say's you would add? Or maybe there were certain actions or words from others that you found to be comforting in some way.


Please share in the comments below so we can help and support each other.


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14 Comments


Martin Stockley
Martin Stockley
Apr 01, 2021

Hi Kate, it is extraordinary how inarticulate we are around child birth and loss. Even the term ‘miscarriage’ seems like a condemnation, something we have done wrong, not carried properly. Our first child (our son) died just a few weeks before his expected birth date and you are right that we are not well versed in how to talk about it. You are right that we have to talk about it and share the things said that don’t help as well as those that do. I want people close to me to know about our son and to feel OK about talking to us about it. We also talked openly from early an early age to our daughter abou…


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Kate Smith
Kate Smith
Apr 01, 2021
Replying to

Thank you Martin for sharing your experience on here too. It is really invaluable.

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Nobody knew I was pregnant, except my husband, when I miscarried. It was right before Christmas ( we were planning on telling close family I was pregnant at chtistmas). We didn't want to ruin everyone's festive holiday, so we never told them. Ever.

We have 2 kids now, but I still mourn the loss, and I desperately wish I had told more people as we have made it this horrible little secret.

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Kate Smith
Kate Smith
Mar 31, 2021
Replying to

The loss you felt never had the chance to be acknowledged fully I imagine. Being able to process it openly is helpful, and I'm sorry you didn't have the opportunity to do this. Thank you for sharing here Claire. xx

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Thank you for writing about your miscarriage Kate. "It fell out." is what I would say, trying to distance myself from reality. I found the hormonal confusion that followed, took quite a long time to resolve. Thank you for your generosity 🌸

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Kate Smith
Kate Smith
Mar 31, 2021
Replying to

Thank you for sharing too. The emotions we experience can be so varied and confusing, can't they? Sending you love. x

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Thank you for sharing this, Kate. I went through a missed miscarriage ten years ago; I skipped into my 12 week scan full of hope and left shattered having been told our baby had died around two weeks before. We hadn’t yet told anyone and so had to call parent numbly uttering the story having not even processed it ourselves. The NHS wouldn’t help and told me to wait it out for a bit longer but I couldn’t cope and paid privately to have an op - labelled an abortion, which was horrifying - and then sank into several months of obsessive depression. My mum tried to help by describing her own miscarriage in lurid detail, which made me feel…

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Kate Smith
Kate Smith
Mar 28, 2021
Replying to

Ruth, I can really relate to that fear that stays with you throughout any future pregnancies. Miscarriage really manages to spoil the joyfulness we should be able to feel throughout a pregnancy, doesn't it? I'm so happy for you that you have your little boy :) xx

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Beautifully written Kate. I had so many ‘At least...’ said to me, it’s safe to say anything that follows those words is not the right thing to say. X

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Kate Smith
Kate Smith
Mar 28, 2021
Replying to

Absolutely spot on Laura. I think it is a human response to try to make things seem better, but can have the opposite effect. xx

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