Things not to say to a loss mum

I felt the need to write this post because loss mums and dads often receive comments which, although meant in a kind and loving way, can come across as hurtful and uncaring. What you mean and how it comes across can be two completely different things. I own a group which supports people with their loss, regardless of how long ago that was… grief has no time limit; I have given a lot of support to some members who messaged me because they were upset about comments that they had received and that inspired this post. I asked the group on Wednesday about hurtful or inconsiderate comments which they had received following their loss and this post was constructed using that information… yes these are real life comments, and some of them are truly shocking.

The way I see it these comments can be put into three categories:

  1. People who truly mean well and would be surprised if they knew how upset the loss mum was
  2. People who simply don’t think before they open their mouth
  3. People who are just plain nasty (thankfully this is the minority and doesn’t happen very often)

People who mean well

It’s ok you can have another

You don’t know that! Some people just can’t… the tests may show that there is something wrong and they are advised against another pregnancy. It can also come across as the loss being unimportant which can be very hurtful. One person explained that this was said to her while the baby was still inside her but she knew she was going to lose him…. No, not appropriate at all.

Well you already have a child; some people can’t have children at all

Yes, thank you for pointing out that piece of information… which I’m already aware of; however, I have just lost a baby so that comment really is not necessary! It’s not that I don’t care about people who can’t have children… I do! But do not try to make me feel guilty for grieving my baby (that might not be how it’s meant, but it is how it comes across!)

Maybe you can’t have girls/boys

Saying this to a loss mum isn’t at all helpful and really rather pointless! There is some basis of truth in this as some people can’t carry a certain gender; however, it is very rare, and in the case of stillbirth it is highly unlikely. After a stillbirth one of the blood tests checks for chromosomes and genetic problems which may reoccur… This is for a doctor to diagnose, and if he or she hasn’t mentioned it to the parents then it’s highly unlikely. Please don’t diagnose that the mum can’t carry girls or boys if you have no idea what the tests have shown.

It’s time to move on, stop torturing yourself

Would you tell a grieving widow when to move on, when she’s ‘had enough time’, or to get over it? No… then why the hell do you think it’s acceptable to tell me that? This seems to be a common one, and I’ve had this several times myself. I also have been told recently that I should ‘stop surrounding myself with death’… aimed at me continuing with this blog, my awareness YouTube channel, the Our Angel Sophie page, and the Sophie’s Angels Support Group; My response to this is always the same… ‘I am not surrounded by death, I am surrounded by life!’, it’s true… I love the support group and I love raising awareness… I also want to help other people going through this and it really does help to connect with people who are going through the same thing. So once again if you have no idea what you’re talking about then butt out!

God won’t give you more than you can handle

Well I can’t handle this! This really has to be one of the worst well-meaning comments! Please don’t say this to people!

Your body might be too old now to carry babies

This is one which has been said to me, I’m 38 and completely ancient in their eyes! However, I have seen a consultant and he is encouraging me to try until the end of the year; so… this comment is neither helpful nor necessary!

You have 3 boys, are you going to have another and try for a girl?

Why do people assume you are not happy with the gender of your childen!? This annoys me no end!! 1. It’s none of your business and 2. I’m not discussing personal and private things with you! When I get asked this my answer is always the same, ‘erm no… we’re just going to try for a baby that comes out breathing!

Maybe this is god’s way of saying you shouldn’t have any more?

I don’t believe that this is helpful in any way, shape, or form to be honest! And I have had this said to me on more than on occasion; however, whatever your religious beliefs are (and I’m not going in t that!) then I think we can all agree that if that was true, then you wouldn’t get pregnant in the first place!

I don’t know how you’re are coping, you’re so strong, I’d be a blubbering mess in your position

This is said a lot to loss mums, and it is true… we are a strong bunch! My response is always ‘you don’t know how strong you can be, until strong is the only option you have!’. I am guilty of saying this to people myself and I had never considered it offensive. However, we are all different and in response to my question about inconsiderate and offensive things one of my members write that she finds this statement hurtful for a few reasons: ‘you only see me when I’m not a blubbering mess, I do that at home on my own frequently’, ‘you make me feel like I’m being disrespectful to my baby by not being a blubbering mess all the time’ and ‘I have no choice but to be strong there is no option’… and she has a very valid point!

I know exactly how you feel

Erm…. No, you don’t! Especially if you have never experienced it! And, even if you have experienced it then you still don’t know how I feel! Everybody is different, and therefore everybody grieves differently! I don’t know how Paul feels and he doesn’t know how I feel! Please don’t say this to anyone

It was barely a baby, why are you so sad?

What is your definition of a baby exactly? Because the heart starts beating at 6 weeks, and a mothers love for that baby starts from the moment she gets a positive pregnancy test… This comment isn’t just inconsiderate but it is also rude, uneducated and unnecessary

At least u only lost one twin u still have the other

What has this got to do with anything? If you just ‘lost’ one of your children would you think ‘at lease of got my other children!’. Think before you speak!

Don’t worry he’s in a better place now

This is just plain insulting! The best place for Sophie would be here with her family and she’s not! You can say that (maybe) about someone who died in pain and was ill for a long time, but NOT about an innocent baby that never had the chance to live!

People who simply don’t think

Saying a funeral is a memorial because they never breathed

Look up the definition of a funeral before you speak! Was there a coffin? Was there a service? Was the baby either buried or cremated? Yes.. then it’s a funeral!

It wasn’t a baby It was only a bunch of cells

Ok this has been said to a few people (especially concerning miscarriages), I’ve been trying to think of how to answer this and I think it would be good for you to read the foetal development post I wrote a while ago! This statement is extremely hurtful and completely unnecessary! As q very quick overview ‘science lesson’… Once an egg is released from the ovaries it travels to the fallopian tube where is fertilised by a sperm; the sperm must penetrate the tough outer membrane of the egg called the zona pellucida; once this happens the genetic material of the sperm and egg then combine to form a single cell called a zygote. The zygote divides rapidly in a process called cleavage, first into two cells, then into four cells, then into eight, and so on. Approximately 60 hours after fertilisation, roughly sixteen cells have formed to what is called a morula, and 3 days after fertilisation, the morula enters the uterus. The cells continue to divide and a fluid-filled cavity called a blastocoele forms in the centre. The zona pellucida disappears and the morula becomes a blastocyst. At this stage, the blastocyst consists of 200 to 300 cells and is ready for implantation. The blastocyst then implants into the uterine wall at about six days after conception and you now enter the embryonic stage. The cells continue to divide and clusters of cells take on different functions (called differentiation). I will write more about differentiation in another post as this is only a brief overview! So… things move pretty fast in the embryonic stage and during week 5 the of brain, heart, blood cells, circulatory system, spinal cord, and digestive system are beginning to develop; during week 6 the bones, facial structures, arm and leg begin to develop and the heart starts to beat, brain, and nervous tissue are also developing; during week 7 the eyes, nose, kidneys and lungs begin their development, and the heart valves are forming. As you can see by this brief list to say it’s just a bunch of cells (depending on the gestation) may or may not be factual, but it is extremely insulting!

How can you grieve for something that wasn’t alive?

Did the baby have a heartbeat? Yes… then it was alive in my book… don’t be so rude!

Babies die everyday

This is not helpful, supportive or caring, it is not something that needs to be said. How would you like to lose a child?

You’re not the only one to lose a baby

True… but why does that mean I shouldn’t be allowed to grieve?

Anything that starts with ‘at least’

Nothing good comes out of this!

Well it wasn’t planned anyway

Grrrrr! What has that got to do with anything!!? Number 1. how do you know it wasn’t? and number 2. a large portion of the population was unplanned. They are still just as much valid

Maybe next time you’ll have twins and your family will be like it’s supposed to be

Erm…. No… my baby will still not be here… think before you speak!

People who are just plain nasty

I can’t even write a reply to some of these as they are just too vile. So I shall just list them instead:

  • I use my daughter as a social media exhibition
  • You’re an attention seeker
  • Maybe your son saw who it’s mum was and committed suicide.
  • You might as well get your ovaries removed if you can’t carry babies
  • Your body kills innocent lives
  • It’s not all about you

5 thoughts on “Things not to say to a loss mum

  1. My midwife said the following: “your baby may have been born with severe disabilities”; You can always adopt”; and “she was already decomposing inside you, a cuddle cot probably would not have helped.” When I explained that these words hadvreally hurt, she wrote me out of her life.

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