Far too often, well-meaning people add further hurt by saying or doing inappropriate things – or, conversely, by failing to show concern and compassion. Comforting in a healing, helpful way to someone who has experienced a miscarriage is the same as with any other kind of death.

Nobody said much. Perhaps they didn't know what to say, but I was grieving – and just wanted to know that people cared. – Lauren

[Some people] . . . said the most hurtful words but with the best intentions like, "You are young; you will have time to have [more] children" and "Maybe this is God's way of saying your baby wasn't healthy." – Emily

The doctor in the ultrasound room said to me, "You're still young and healthy and can have more children." Maybe I could, maybe I couldn't. How would he have felt if his wife had just died and someone said, "That's too bad. On the other hand, there are lots of other women out there and you'll undoubtedly get married again"? – Caroline

Don't say . . .

  • Gee, I know – I'm having a rough time right now, too. The last thing they need right now is to hear about your problemsunless someone you love just died, also.
  • I can imagine how you feel. If you haven't lost a child, you can't.
  • It's a blessing. Your baby probably was deformed. No matter your motives, this is not a comforting commentand it perpetuates the fallacy that human life is only valuable when it comes in a "perfect package."
  • It's not like it was a full-term baby. The human spirit has no "size." The person created in the image and likeness of God is fully there from conceptionregardless of the size or capabilities of the body and mind.
  • Please let me know if there's anything I can do. It sounds nice, but it puts the burden on the bereaved person to think of something, and then have to ask for help.
  • God had a purpose for this. No matter how this squaresor doesn't squarewith Scripture, it turns a baby's death into a mere movement of a pawn on a chessboard. In fact, it makes God out to be the "bad guy" in the situation, and He isn't.
  • What helps?

    Pray for the grieving parent(s). Ask, "How can I pray for you right now?" Then remember to prayand, ideally, keep up with their prayer needs on a regular basis for the first few months.

    Send a personal note or card – but avoid the temptation to "preach" or find a reason for the miscarriage. If you've experienced a miscarriage, however, sharing that fact can communicate the message, "You're not alone, and I understand." A few words validating the parents' loss can be very comforting.

    My next-door neighbour brought over a fruit basket, a warm and funny novel, and a note that simply said, "I'm so sorry." – Julie

    I have a collection of mementos of Andrew. It's primarily filled with notes and cards that people sent – which even now, almost 10 years later, are very meaningful to me. – Caroline

    Think of one or two specific things that you could do – bring a meal, watch other children for several hours, do the laundry, run errands, take care of yard workthen call and ask if you could do so. Even small gestures of practical help can be very comforting.

    Right before I lost the baby, we had done a lot of spring yard work – and had a bunch of leaf bags sitting on our front porch. Our next-door neighbour came over a couple of days later and quietly hauled all of them out to the curb for us. – Caroline

    Make yourself available to listen. Don't make the mistake of thinking you have to say something appropriate or profound. Most of the time, the gift of listening, your tears and/or a warm hug can help more than anything you could possibly say. Make a donation to a favourite charity in memory of the child. Or, if there is a burial, make a donation toward a headstone or other related expenses.

    Send a note or flowers at the time the baby would have been born. This is something seldom thought of, but can be very comforting at a time, months later, that usually brings renewed grief.

    Don't forget dads and siblings

    While a miscarriage naturally impacts the mother the most, the baby's father and other children in the family (if any) should not be forgotten. They may be struggling with their own feelings of shock, confusion and loss. Simple questions like "How are you doing? Do you want to talk?" can let them know they're not forgotten. A phone call, a note, an invitation to have coffee or get ice cream will convey the message that "I know you've experienced a loss, tooand I care!"

    Excerpted from the booklet Permission to Grieve: Finding Healing and Hope After Miscarriage. © 2001 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

    If you liked this article and would like to go deeper, we have some helpful resources below.

    Our recommended resources

    Join our newsletter

    Advice for every stage of life delivered straight to your inbox