Inspired by Nikki's meme on teenage motherhood. I created this list based on my own experiences, as well as asking other mums who have miscarried. Obviously each person is a little different, and often what made a difference WHO said it.*
1. It was probably for the best.
No matter what the circumstances of the pregnancy, miscarriage is still a loss and deserves the dignity of any other death.
2. Miscarriages are really, really, common. Then list all the people you know who have a had a miscarriage.
Lots of bad things are really common, but that doesn't make the pain go away. The only person this is likely to be comforting from is a woman's doctor otherwise it just feels like her experience just doesn't matter.
3. You should have taken better care of yourself.
Nothing like telling the woman who has miscarried that she did something to end her own baby's life. Babies are born to women who smoke, drink, or have too much coffee as well as to women who do all the things considered healthy for the growing fetus. Both groups of women also miscarry. Why should your words confirm the self-condemnation and uncertainty the woman is already feeling?
4. It wasn't really a baby yet/was likely deformed.
This may be true but it is no comfort to hear it. Women want to believe it was a perfect baby, and that's who they are grieving for.
Even saying 'I don't know what to say' is far, far better than not saying anything at all. For a start it is something honest and also acknowledges what happened.
6. At least you weren't further along in your pregnancy.
Women often start bonding with their baby quite early on in their pregnancy. So it doesn't really matter if it happens a few days after the positive pregnancy test or at week 19, miscarriage sucks.
7. You've already got healthy children.
For me, one of the most painful experiences of the last few months has been watching The Child interact with babies and toddlers. I immediately wonder about that sibling she won't meet.
8. At least you can get pregnant.
Whilst I'll freely acknowledge that infertility sucks, surely people get that the goal of pregnancy isn't simply a positive pregnancy test but a baby at the end of it?
9. Everything will be fine next time.
Actually you don't know if it will be fine. If there is one thing I've learned in this crazy procreation process, it's that so much of it is really up to chance. Hearing false platitudes makes those who go onto have more miscarriages feel miserable.
10. You can always try again.
This may be true. Remember, though, that the woman was anticipating the birth of this child. Some women may feel that the best way to get over a miscarriage is to start trying again immediately and that's ok. But 'trying again' can also be terrifying knowing that you could easily go through another miscarriage or something worse. As for me, I'm following the adage that you are ready to start trying again when you aren't looking to replace the baby you lost.
And in case you are wondering what to say "I'm so sorry" is always a safe bet.
* I've been thinking about you and hope you are doing ok.
* Acknowledging the baby.
* Telling her about your own miscarriage. Tell her the things that helped you--they are very likely to help her, and even if they don't, she will appreciate the sentiment.
* And the big one: talking about the pregnancy if the woman brings it up. Just because the pregnancy ended in tragedy doesn't mean it was any less of a pregnancy. There is nothing worse than sitting around and hearing other women talk about their pregnancies and have people uncomfortably change the subject when you talk about the 2 months you spent chucking as if NOTHING happened.
Any other suggestions?