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8 Things Not to Say to a Woman Who's Had a Miscarriage

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Talking about miscarriage is difficult. Many women have had them (I've had three), and yet there still isn't much discussion about the emotions that go along with the experience. It can be hard to know what to say to a woman who has experienced a miscarriage. Here are things you definitely should avoid.

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1. It's for the best.

Another variation of this is, "Things happen for a reason." While this is a lovely philosophy, and one that might work in other situations, it's not particularly comforting when you are grieving a loss

2. At least you have a child already.

Would it make you feel better to have someone tell you, "Well, at least you have your left arm"?

If a woman has a previous child and goes on to miscarry, it may seem uplifting to remind her that she's lucky to have the child or children she already has, right? But consider it this way: if your right arm was amputated, would it make you feel better to have someone tell you, "Well, at least you have your left arm"? I didn't think so.

3. You can try again.

After my second miscarriage at age 30, someone told me, "The best thing to do is get back on the horse again!" No. Just no. While some women are anxious to move forward and try again immediately, it can take some of us months, or even years, to feel ready to try to conceive again. Some will never want to try again because the sense of loss and uncertainty is too great. Unless you know the intentions of the woman, don't say this.

4. It was just a cluster of cells.

I heard this several times with each of my miscarriages. Save the biology lesson for school. That cluster of cells represented the dream of her child-to-be. To her, it likely wasn't a cluster of cells but her future baby. Reframing it in a scientific way is not going to make her feel better.

5. It's not a big deal, it happens a lot.

While statistics point to miscarriage being a fairly common occurrence, it's much like the frequency of car crashes: They may happen all the time, but it's different when it happens to you. This bit of wisdom just sounds callous.

6. Do you think it was something you did/ate?

Trust me, nearly every woman who experiences a miscarriage will spend some amount of time going over her every action leading up to the loss. The truth is, most of us will never know why we miscarried, and in most cases there was nothing we could do to prevent it. Don't turn someone else's experience into a Q&A about her lifestyle.

7. Do you think it's because of your age?

I heard this one several times after my third miscarriage, at age 41. I knew it likely didn't have anything to do with my age, as I'd had miscarriages at 23 and 30, as well. But still, it's a hard question to hear because it made me second guess my desire to become a mother in my 40s. (I went on to have babies at 42 and 44.)

8. I had a second trimester miscarriage. My friend had a stillbirth. My sister has had four miscarriages.

No matter what form this takes, one-upping a woman who has had a miscarriage is not only a bad idea, it's in bad taste. She has a right to grieve her loss in whatever way she needs, and you telling her that others have had it worse will not ease her mind or help her in her healing process.

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If you find yourself searching for something to say to a friend who has just told you about her miscarriage, try this: "I'm so sorry. Do you want to talk about it?" Instead of telling her your thoughts or about your experience, ask her if she wants to express hers. There's a very good chance she hasn't been given an opportunity to voice what she is feeling, but even if she isn't ready to talk about it (now or ever), she will know that you care. And that is more important than anything else you could say.

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