What to say to someone who's lost a baby

Here's how to be supportive and helpful.

October 1, 2020
Chrissy Teigen John Legend

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My heart broke this morning when I opened my phone and saw the black and white photo of Chrissy Teigen crying in a hospital bed with the headline "Chrissy Teigen loses baby after pregnancy complications" because I know that gut wrenching heartbreak. 

If you've been through a pregnancy loss, I'm so, so sorry. I've been there too and it's something that you never forget and something that changes who you are as a person. I was 9 weeks pregnant in the Spring of 2012. I had some bleeding and cramping and I called my doctor. They did some bloodwork on a Friday and then again on that Monday. The next day I was actually putting my mascara on when the doctor called and said the numbers don't look good and I need to come in immediately the next day for an ultrasound. I told the doctor I was headed to a family party where we were actually bringing a cake announcing our pregnancy and I asked if I should make that announcement?

She paused and said "It's up to you, but these numbers have me very concerned." My husband and I decided to not make the announcement until we knew more.

The next day, with my Mom by my side holding my hand I went in for my second ultrasound and there was no heartbeat. I lost it and my Mom held me while I screamed and cried the kind of cry where your whole soul hurts. A part of me died that day too. My baby was gone and 8 years later I still think about that baby every day and wished the outcome could've been different. I do find comfort in knowing that I carried that baby every second of his or her life and my baby knew how much he/she was loved.

And there were some really loving things that people said and did after our loss, but there we some hurtful things too.

It's hard to know what to say and that's OK, but please, be sensitive and compassionate towards those that have experienced this loss.

In my experience, these words comforted me during my miscarriage:

  • I'm so sorry for your loss
  • I know you loved your baby and you did everything you could
  • We are here for you and we are grieving with you
  • Your baby will never be forgotten
  • I love you and your baby and I'm so sorry you're going through this
  • I'm here for you and here to listen
  • I'm praying for you
  • Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to grieve
  • You are not alone
  • It's OK, to not feel OK.

Things you can DO:

  • Send flowers/card/texts/calls
  • Make a donation in some way in their babies honor
  • Remember the due date and reach out to the person on the due date acknowleding that day will forever be changed for them
  • Offer to make a meal
  • Offer to run some errands for them/help out around the house
  • Listen
  • Just BE there and follow up through the years - the loneliness comes from feeling like people "forgot" about your baby who means so much to you

Things NOT to say:

  • Things happen for a reason
  • Something was "wrong" with the baby so this is a "blessing"
  • You can always have more kids. This one was said to me A LOT and it was knife to the heart. NO life can replace another life. And in my case, I wasn't able to get pregnant again, so to say that is simply unfair because no one knows what the future holds and my heartbreak wasn't about IF I'll get pregnant again, I was mourning THAT specific child who already had a story and impacted my life greatly.
  • At least you have other kids. This gets said to me now that I'm a Mom to my stepson, Brayson. Please see above - no life can replace another life.
  • Now you have an Angel baby. - Ummmmm...I'd rather have my baby HERE with me.
  • Maybe this just wasn't the right time.
  • Nothing and ignore that this happened. It's OK to say, "I don't know what to say" ignoring it is hurtful because it comes across like this baby's life didn't matter even if that's not how you feel.

We even talked about this on the show today too if you want to hear more:

If you have a story to share, I'm here for you. Please reach out at Facebook.com/ElizabethKay

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