What do you say when someone experiences pregnancy loss?
Back in 2010, my baby boy, Weston died at 39 weeks. Friends and others often said "sorry for your loss", which I found hard to respond to. I wanted and needed to talk about our story in order to get through it, so trying to tell people something like "no need to feel sorry" and then go on with what exactly happened was always a bit awkward for me.
I always questioned if the person I was talking to really wanted to hear the details or if they themselves were feeling awkward about this "taboo" subject and just wanted to steer clear of the conversation all together. Nine times out of ten, I simply moved forward with explaining our story and the conversations ended fine, but I realized talking about loss is really an awkward subject for most people.
Why don't we speak of loss more often? Once I had gone through the experience myself, so many people I had known for years told me they, too, had experienced some kind of loss. I had no idea that they had gone through something similar. It was very odd to me that people I knew so well in my own life never previously talked with me about their losses, whether it was miscarriage or stillbirth. It was because of that realization that I took it upon myself to start being a mouth piece and talking about our story with others more freely, in hopes to reach others who had also experienced a loss and allow them to know they were not alone.
Some tips when talking with those who have experienced loss:
1) Saying something like "Wow, I can't imagine what you're going through right now. I'd like to hear your story, if you want to share and please let me know how I can best support you" would be a good response.
2) Giving parents the option to share their story with you is a great way to show support.
3) Don't be too alarmed if the parents don't really have an answer as to how you can best support them.
4) Showing you care and giving parents a safe space to talk is a huge step to helping them feel understood.
5) If you've had a similar experience, sharing your experience can be helpful, but make sure you've allowed the other parents to share theirs first.
Loss is a touchy subject. There is really no right or wrong way to deal with it. Just remember to be open and if the person you're talking to wants to share, give them that "safe space" to share in. If they seem to be not to want to share, allow them to grieve in their silence. Sometimes all we need to know is that someone is there if we decide we really need them. Give your friends time and if and when they feel like talking, they will know who to come to.