• Don't say "well, you weren't too sure about this baby, anyway." I already feel so guilty about ever having complained about morning sickness, or a child I wasn't prepared for, or another mouth to feed that we couldn't afford. I already fear that this baby died because I didn't take the vitamins, or drank too much coffee, or had alcohol in the first few weeks when I didn't know I was pregnant. I hate myself for any minute that I had reservations about this baby. Being unsure of my pregnancy isn't the same as wanting my child to die -- I never would have chosen for this to happen.
• Do say "I am so sorry." That's enough. You don't need to be eloquent. Say it and mean it and it will matter.
• Do say "you're going to be wonderful parents some day," or "you're wonderful parents and that baby was lucky to have you." We both need to hear that.
• Do say "I have lighted a candle for your baby," or "I have said a prayer for your baby." Do send flowers or a kind note – every one I receive makes me feel as though my baby was loved. Don't resent it if I don't respond. Don't call more than once and don't be angry if the machine is on and I don't return your call. If we're close friends and I am not responding to your attempts to help me, please don't resent that, either. Help me by not needing anything from me for a while.
• Do recognize that I have suffered a death in my family -- not a medical condition.
• Do recognize I'm going to be grieving for quite some time in addition to the physical after effects I may experience. Please treat me as you would any person who has endured the tragic death of a loved one -- I need time and space.
• Please don't bring your baby or toddler into the workplace. If your niece is pregnant, or your daughter just had a baby, please don't share that with me right now. It's not that I can't be happy for anyone else, it's that every smiling, cooing baby, every glowing new mother makes me ache so deep in my heart I can barely stand it. I may look okay to you, but there's a good chance that I'm still crying every day. It may be weeks before I can go a whole hour without thinking about it. You'll know when I'm ready -- I'll be the one to say, "Did your daughter have her baby?" or, "How is that precious little boy of yours? I haven't seen him around the office in a while."
Above all, please remember that this is the worst thing that ever happened to me. The word "miscarriage" is small and easy but my baby's death is monolithic and awful. It's going to take me a while to figure out how to live with it. Bear with me.
Copyright © Elizabeth Soutter Schwarzer. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.