Saying something is better than saying nothing.

The holidays are gathering times. We often visit with those we see only once or twice each year. It can be pretty uncomfortable to come face-to-face with an extended family member or member-in-law who has just experienced a personal loss, especially a miscarriage or pregnancy loss. (Miscarriage occurs before 20 weeks of a pregnancy, and a pregnancy loss is after 20 weeks.) Our society doesn’t have any rituals for how to support someone in that situation.

What do you do when you don’t know what to say? Many people choose not to say anything. They think that by not bringing up the subject, it will be easier for the one who has suffered the loss.

Not true. Acknowledging their loss is a way of respecting and honoring that person and the one they’ve lost.

I remember being at a Christmas gathering shortly after my fourth miscarriage. No one said a word about it. In fact, when I brought the subject up, the room emptied almost immediately. I know talking about these losses feels uncomfortable, but one of the greatest gifts you can give someone experiencing this is to acknowledge their pain.

Here are a few suggestions for something simple to say based on what I would have found incredibly comforting:

“I was so sorry to hear about your loss. Is there anything I can do for you?”

“I was so sad to hear that you lost the baby. I’m here if you’d like to talk about it.”

“I realize this must be a difficult time for you.” Then give the person a hug.

Don’t be afraid. One sentence, a touch of a hand or even a reassuring look can be a tremendous gift to someone struggling.