Twenty-Six Things: Not To Say To Someone Who Has Suffered A Stillbirth

November 22, 2018

 By Sanda Rathamone

"Grief never ends ... But it changes. It's passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith ... It is the price of love."

Here is part two of my "Twenty-Six Things" series. If you can, please share this list to raise awareness on how we can better address pregnancy and baby loss.

Twenty-Six Things: Not To Say To Someone Who Has Suffered A Stillbirth:

1.  "It happened for a reason" or "Everything happens for a reason."

  • Why not to say this: Reasons do not lessen the pain.

2.  "It's in God's hands."
3.  "God needed another angel."
4.  "God does not give you what you cannot handle."
5.  "You need to have (more) faith (in God)."
6.  "God has better things in store for you."

  • I am struggling to have faith in God right now. Please let me speak with God alone.

7.  "Our bodies are smarter than we are; it knows when something is not right."

  • Nothing about my body feels right. Please do not add more to what could be wrong.

8.  "It happened for the best."

  • The best of what? This is the worst that has happened.

9.  "You will have another one."

  • Another one will not replace this one.

10. "Have you considered adoption?"

  • Adoption is not an option right now, nor do I feel like you are considering my pain.

11. "It wasn't the right time."

  • Then when is the right time?

12. "It wasn't meant to be."

  • So what was meant for me?

13. "Don't worry, things will work out."

  • How can you be so sure when my baby died?

14. "If He/She had survived, you wouldn't have been able to _______ ."

  • He/She should have survived. I should have been able to take my baby home.

15. "He/She was not meant to stay.” 

  • So I was meant to stay here without my baby?

16. "You have so many other things to be grateful for."

  • Other things do not lessen the pain of losing my baby.

17.  "At least you are still here."

  • I feel like I died with my baby.

18.  "You have other children to take care of."

  • I love and care for all of my children, whether they are alive or not.

19.  "Time will heal everything.” 

  • My definition of time has changed and it will be a very long time before I feel "healed."

20.  "He/She wasn't even a person."

  • My baby is a person who I love and miss very much. My pain for my baby is very much real.

21.  "He/She never lived."

  • My baby lived inside of me.

22.  "You were not meant to have that child."

  • That child is my forever my child.

23.   "He/She is in a better place now."

  • He/She would be better in my arms right now.

24.  "You need to get over it."

  • There is nothing to "get over" about losing a baby. 

25.  "Write about it in a journal, no one needs to know."

  • A journal is not enough to support me through this difficult time. My loss is a part of my new life - never something too personal to share.

26.  "Your loss makes people sad/uncomfortable, don't talk about it."

  • I am required to be comfortable with my loss everyday. Other people's discomfort (for one minute) does not compare to the pain of losing my baby for the rest of my life. 
  • Talking about my baby helps lessen the pain and is a way that I express love for my baby.

Fortunately, I also made a list of what to say.

Instead, say these:

1.  "I am sorry for your loss."
2.  "I am here for you."
3.  "I am not sure what I can do, but I am willing to listen."
4.  "I admire the way you grieve for him/her."
5.  "I miss (baby's name), too."
6.  "I know that you are having a difficult time. I also want to you know that I am thinking about you and (baby's name)."
7.  "Is there something that you would like to do in honor of (baby's name)?"
8.  "It is okay to feel sad/cry."
9.  "You are safe to talk about (baby's name) with me."
10. "I do not understand what you are going through, but it hurts to know that you are grieving and I want to help."
11. "How can I help you feel better?"
12. "I have been thinking about (baby's name) and was wondering if you would like to share some things about (baby's name)."
13. "I know that it will take awhile to heal, but you can always count on me for support."
14. "I found this support group. Is it okay to ask if you would like to attend a meeting with me?"
15. "I got this for (baby's name). I hope that (baby's name) would like it."
16. "I know that the holidays are the worst times for you and would like to know what would make you feel more comfortable in celebrating the holidays with us?"
17.  "I think about you and pray that you are able to take home your baby some day."
18.  "I have not forgotten about (baby's name) and remember his/her special days."
19.  "I do imagine what it would have been like if (baby's name) were here."
20.  "I grieve for you and (baby's name), too."
21.  "I know someone who has lost a baby, too. Maybe it would help to speak to/meet this person?"
22.  "I haven't lost a baby, but I am sure that must be very hard for you. If there is anyway that I can help, please let me know."
23.  "It is okay if you are not able to attend (event). I completely understand your need to grieve and hope that you will feel better when you are more comfortable."
24.  "I was thinking about (baby's name) and wondering if I could spend a day with you to honor (baby's name)."
25.  "I know that you will always think about (baby's name). I will not forget about him/her."
26.  "You are still a mother/father and will always be included on mother's/father's day."

Last but not least, a suggestion from my husband:

27.  Ask me: "How are you doing?"

  • I will know if you really want to know.

To read Part One, click here.

With love,

Must Read:
Read the full story about Elijah:
Elijah's Story: From Gender Reveal To A Spontaneous Delivery

Photo: maxpixel

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