What Not To Say

Responding to friends and family after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or failed infertility treatment can be an extremely delicate matter. You, the fertile world, may not even realize the impact that these responses have on the infertile world. You mean well and never intend to hurt with your words, but because you haven’t thought through your comments or because the silence makes you feel awkward, your comments might actually be very insensitive and hurtful.  Sometimes sitting with someone and saying nothing is MUCH better than saying anything at all!

In addition, it is best NOT to offer any kind of solutions or answers. By nature, we are all problem solvers, so our first reaction is to want to help solve this “problem.” However, by offering solutions you minimize or invalidate the pain that they are feeling. You are unintentionally telling them that they shouldn’t feel the way that they do.  One Counseling Center advises“Your well-meaning advice is an attempt to transform an extremely complicated predicament into a simplistic little problem.  By simplifying their problem in this manner, you’ve diminished the validity of their emotions, making them feel psychologically undervalued.”

WHAT NOT TO SAY:

  1. “Everything is going to be okay.”

  2. “How are you doing?”  (How do you think they are doing?!)

  3. “You’ll get pregnant again.” (There’s just no way for you to know that.)

  4. “You can always adopt.” (Never a good thing to say!…unless you are a very good friend and say this after a significant amount of time.)

  5. “My friend adopted and got pregnant right away.”

  6.  “This is probably for the best; something was probably really wrong with this baby.”

  7. “This happens to a lot of women and they are okay.”

  8. “You’ll get over it.” (No, they will never fully “get over it.”)

  9. “I’ve had it with my kids!  You can have one of mine.”

  10. “You’ll be a parent by this time next year…I just know it!” (How do you know that?)

  11. “I had a friend, sister, etc. who ________” (Immediately after a loss like this, they do not want to hear your stories.)

  12. “You shouldn’t be so unhappy.  You have a lot to be thankful for.”

  13. “I wish I had your freedom…the freedom you have without children in your life.”

  14. “You should be over this by now and just move on.”

  15. “Just relax.”

  16. “Go on vacation and you’ll get pregnant.” (Oh really…vacation will cause their real physical problem to just go away?)

  17. Teasing by saying “You just don’t seem to know how to do it right.”

WHAT TO SAY:

Rule of Thumb: the less you say initially, the better (the less chance you have to stick your foot in your mouth!)

  1. “I am so sorry.”

  2. “I am thinking about you.”

  3. “I am praying for you.” (Is there anything better than that?)

  4. “Is there anything I can do?”  (If there is, they will tell you.  Don’t be pushy.)

  5. “If you would like to talk, I’d like to listen.”  (Without offering advice)

  6. “I’ll come eat lunch with you.”  (Being in a crowded lunchroom, party, etc. can be hard.)

  7. “We got a babysitter for Friday night.  Do you want to go to dinner?” (Being willing to go out without your children is a huge blessing!)