A Miscarriage of Thoughtfulness

by admin on June 1, 2011

My story happened last year and even now I’m not sure everyone involved has completely grasped why I was so upset.

In January, a few of my girlfriends and I planned to go away for the Bank Holiday weekend in August. Quite a time lapse, but it was a tradition that started from our University days. The weekend normally involved spa days and pub crawls in the evening, just a nice long weekend to catch up with friends and have fun. So we booked the hotels, booked the time off of work and all was good.

In April I discovered I was pregnant. An unplanned but happy surprise, it was the first child for both me and my husband and we were understandably cautious, excited and absolutely petrified. By June I had my 12 week scan and confident the baby was doing well, we began telling our family and friends the good news. I also told my girlfriends that I wouldn’t be coming to the weekend trip in August as, 1) I wouldn’t be drinking and didn’t want to be sober at 3am surrounded by people more then a  little intoxicated, 2) I also didn’t want to ruin their weekend by being back in the hotel by 9pm fast asleep and complaining when they stumbled in at 4am [We were sharing one large room.], 3) because morning sickness, chronic backache and swollen ankles just ain’t fun; and again I didn’t want to ruin it for the others with my complaining, and 4) because hell, I wanted to be at home, curled up with a baby name book with my husband and father of my child.

I had already paid my share of the hotel room and train fare and told them in no way did I expect it back. I even told them if they wanted to invite someone else and use the extra money for drinks on me then it was all good. I did feel guilty about not being there for the first time in like 6 years, but my little growing bubba took priority.

In July I miscarried. As you can imagine, my and the husband were devastated. We were told it was just “one of those things” and that we/I did nothing wrong and that sometimes Nature just takes back what she gives…all the usual things said to a woman who has suffered a miscarriage to try and stop falling headlong into a pit of guilt and self recriminations.

So we began the awful task of telling our family and friends what happened. When telling one of my girlfriends whom I was meant to be going away with, the first thing she said was, “Oh! Now you can come away with us in August!” Like my child was just a mere inconvenience to her plans which had now sorted itself and life could go on as normal. I was completely shocked and told her,  “No, I will be grieving my child and will not be attending”, then quickly cut the conversation short.

I understand that when given shocking or tragic news, people don’t know what to say, I appreciate that and after a few days, I didn’t hold it against her. Maybe she was trying to cheer me up in her own misguided way or maybe her mouth kicked into gear before her brain did and she never intended it to come across as it did. With that thought in mind, I gave her a call a few days later, whereupon the second sentence she said to me after “hello” was, “So have you changed your mind about the weekend away yet?”

At that point, I told her someone was at the door and I really had to go.   0517-11

The people who most often say stupid things about miscarriages are the ones who never had one.   They have no concept of what someone is feeling or how a miscarriage represents lost dreams of the future.

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley June 1, 2011 at 10:40 am

I have never had a miscarriage, but I know people who have. I understand that everyone grieves at their own pace. For some people, a couple weeks of staying in is well in order, for others, a weekend away with some drinks would have left them right as rain by the time they came home. But the long and short of it is at no point should anyone on the outside try to make someone grieve faster or differently than what is comfortable for the one grieving. For all we know that friend who was trying to make her go away WAS trying to help. She just went about it in a completely backwards way. I can only hope that OP’s friend took some sort of lesson from this, and hasn’t been trying to convince other people to go on holidays when they would rather stay home for whatever reason

Reply

Another Laura June 1, 2011 at 10:43 am

I also had a miscarriage, and there were definately some thoughtless things said, like “God knew that this baby wasn’t healthy, so He took it.” Or something to that extent. What bothers me most about that sentiment is, if you believe in God, and that He would do such a thing, why does He let other unhealthy babies live (I would have loved my baby no matter what may have been wrong with him/her); and God would also have the power to heal said defect rather than kill the baby.

Good news is that now we have a lovely 10 1/2 month old daughter, though I still miss my “first baby.”

Reply

J's Mama June 1, 2011 at 10:54 am

I don’t think it matters if you miscarry at 4 weeks or 34 weeks, which is a stillbirth by the point, the devastation is the same. You have all of these thoughts and dreams for your little one, and suddenly they are gone. Have you considered maybe writing a letter to your friend and explaining how you’re feeling. It might be easier to write it out than say it over the phone or in person. I know how you’re feeling. I lost one baby at 17 weeks and another little one at 29 weeks of pregnancy. The hurt does get easier, although you never stop missing your precious little one. And trust me, you owe no one any explanations about your absence.

Hugs to you!

Reply

LaLa June 1, 2011 at 10:59 am

I disagree. I suspect we didn’t get the entire conversation, but even if we did, I think her friend meant that this trip might cheer up the letter writer.
If her expresson was inelegant, I’ll bet her sentiment was genuinely warm.

Reply

lnelson1218 June 1, 2011 at 11:01 am

While I do find the friend’s reaction inappropriate, I wonder if she thinks that she is actually helping by somehow thinking that a weekend away will get you over the grief. Clumsy and misguided but maybe not vicious in intent.

Never having a miscarraige, I have no idea the feelings associated with it. My thoughts go out to you on that one.

Reply

LeeLee88 June 1, 2011 at 11:02 am

I think the letter writer was very generous in her assumptions of why her friend could have said what she did. The sad truth (from what I’m reading) is the “friend” is a selfish moron, period. I wish the LW well as she continues on, and I truly hope she drops that idiot like a scalding hot potato.

Reply

Shalamar June 1, 2011 at 11:08 am

I’m so sorry for your loss, OP.

That girl was stupid and thoughtless, but unfortunately her behaviour is by no means uncommon. As the Admin said, people who haven’t suffered a loss like that have no idea how devastating it is. She’s probably one of those women who only sees the negative aspects of having a baby (not being able to drink, morning sickness, etc) and none of the joy.

Reply

Margaret June 1, 2011 at 11:09 am

After the first comment, I could probably have categorized that with the people who respond to tragedy with an “on the bright side” type comment. Your house burned down? On the bright side, you won’t have to clean the bathrooms! I find those extremely annoying, because “the bright side” is usually insignificant compared to the tragedy, and even if it’s not, someone who has JUST suffered a loss probably doesn’t want to just be cheered up. Anyway, after you literally said that you would be “grieving your child”, the friend should have clued in that this was a monumental loss for you, so the second comment was just ignorant and rude.

And I am so very sorry for your loss. Time does heal.

Reply

Katy June 1, 2011 at 11:21 am

The first comment was forgiveable and I’m glad the OP called her friend back after a few days. But the second comment, really? I would seriously question this friendship but before giving up completely I would sit the friend down and explain my feelings and why her reaction was hurtful. She may truly not understand that a miscarriage is devastating and that it isn’t something you just get over in an instant. Or she may be a completely self-centered twit and in that case I’d wash my hands of her and move on.

Reply

Zhoen June 1, 2011 at 11:27 am

Taking offense is certainly not appropriate, although understandable. Your friend was making sure you felt wanted and welcomed, maybe hoped it would be a distraction, from the context of her own reality. Educate her that a miscarriage, for you, means grief, and is a huge physical drain that the body does not recover from in a week or a month. Unless we’ve been trained, those of us who’ve never been pregnant do *not* understand, can’t really understand. That life inside you was not real to anyone but you and your spouse. Your assumption your friend understood that, and intentionally insulted you is no doubt coming out of your own grief and loss.

Or, maybe, you know her quite well, and now is the time to end boozing/party college friendships. But just being in different places in your lives doesn’t indicate bad manners. She can’t read your mind, you can’t read hers, and unless you have a close friendship and tell each other what you are really thinking and feeling, it’s best not to assume.

Reply

Elizabeth June 1, 2011 at 11:32 am

I don’t find it selfish to want to spend time with your friends. I do find her reaction to the news to be rude, but not in the way some of the more harsh commenters are suggestion. She was probably genuinely sad you would be missing the trip and/or thought getting out of the house might be good for you. She might not quite understand why you are so devastated. Yes, she needs to learn a little tact and compassion, but she may be a little ignorant on how to handle the situation.

Reply

Louise June 1, 2011 at 11:36 am

I think OP is generous to put a positive spin on her friend’s first comment and say maybe she was just trying to cheer her up.

But the friend’s second comment about the holiday? Maybe it was another misguided attempt to distract the OP from her grief. Maybe she said it because she doesn’t like to talk about sad events and holidays are much nicer. Maybe she genuinely thought the OP was “over” her miscarriage. I don’t think it matters; the OP had made it clear once that she wasn’t interested in holiday talk and she was grieving. For the friend to launch into holiday planning right away was inconsiderate and selfish. If she were really concerned about her friend, she would take her cues from her, not pass over her grief to eliminate what she feels is an awkward moment.

I’ve never even been pregnant. I don’t know what it’s like to miscarry. But I know to be sensitive to someone who has, especially a friend. You don’t need to personally experience a miscarriage to know “How are you?” is better than, “So, about our holiday plans….”

Reply

The Elf June 1, 2011 at 11:42 am

Her comments were thoughtless, but I’m not so sure her intent was to hurt you or to dismiss your pain. People are often at a loss for words about death. Unless your friend has shown other signs of being totally self-absorbed, I’d just dismiss this as cluelessness and maybe even that she thought that “taking your mind off” the miscarriage would be helpful. But if this is just the most obvious example of your friend’s self-absorption, then it would make sense to distance yourself.

Reply

Sarah Jane June 1, 2011 at 12:09 pm

It’s been my experience that a lot of people have difficulty comprehending all the layers of loss with a miscarriage and associating with all the physical factors, spiritual issues, and privacy matters.

Some people view it as the loss of a pregnancy, others consider it the loss of a child.

The most appropriate words to say to anyone who has suffered a tragedy are: ” I am so sorry.” If an accompanying hug or squeeze of the hand is appropriate, it can mean so much more than words.

Reply

Meloni June 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

OP, so sorry for your loss. I’ve never had a miscarriage, so have never experienced that particular type of grief.

Just my humble opinion, but I think that most people who say stupid things at a time like this are genuinely trying to be helpful. I know when I’m told bad news, my natural instinct is to be empathetic with the griever. I don’t want to see any fellow human, especially a friend or family member, feel pain, and so my instinct is to try to alleviate it. Now for obvious reasons I have no control over the alleviation of that pain, so I just offer my sorries and my condolences and my offers of help if they need anything, and leave it at that.

Other people, however, may feel compelled to offer their version of condolences, such as why God still works in mysterious ways, come with us to this fun activity and take your mind off of it, etc. It was undoubtedly tacky if presented the way you said, but I wonder if your friend was just trying to make it clear that you were still welcome to attend the vacation if you changed your mind?

Reply

SV June 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Like many women, I have had a miscarriage, and like most people I heard several clumsy and inappropriate comments that were either supposed to make me feel better or were simply thoughtless. The fact is that unless you have had a miscarrige you really cannot understand the grief involved. I think your friend both did not know what to say to you and also had no concept of the level of mourning you were going through ( and how long that can last). It is difficult for someone who has not gone through it to comprehend and as such they tend to say awkward and thoughtless things. It doesn’t necessarily make her a bad friend…just one who can’t empathise with you in this.

When I had my miscarriage, I wrote a letter to my unborn child. I saved it in a small box of mementos…a congratulatory card that was given to me when I first became pregnant, the positive test, a few other things. I found this helped me a lot- it made me realize that it did not matter if the rest of the world simply forgets and moves along, the preganacy meant something dear and special to my husband and myself, and it gave us joy while we had it. I have three beautiful children, but I have been pregnant four times and I never forget that. Take care, OP, even if your friend didn’t understand there are many of us who do :)

Reply

lkb June 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I am very sorry for your loss.

Reply

Stepmomster June 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Just as with children with disabilities, and people who have terrible accidents that change their lives, most people don’t understand that you are in mourning not just for a child or relative, but a door that has closed in your life, and all the hopes and dreams associated with that, along with the fear of a suddenly uncertain future.

But… I do think that friend was really shallow. It seems really inappropriate to be thinking about the trip instead of the reason the person is calling, which is for an outlet of grief. Perhaps it would have been better for her to express condolences and the simple statement “I know this is a terrible time for you, so if you feel like hanging out with us next month, and need to get out, you know your spot is always open and we would love to have you with us” At that point you could decline with grace instead of horror.

Reply

Emily June 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm

At my grandfather’s funeral, I was told that I shouldn’t be sad because he lived long enough.
There are just some people who don’t understand grieving.

Reply

Lizajane June 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Shalamar,
Interesting assumption.

Margaret,
I’m a bright-sider, but I do tend to be careful with it around other people. But frankly, sometimes that’s the only thing that gets me through the day if I let myself start thinking about the tragedies in my life beginning at 11-years-old.
I never thought there was a bright side to the loss of a child until I heard a woman comfort her son, whose own son had died in an accident. She told him that we don’t know why these things happen, but maybe we should consider the possiblility that this death saved him from an excruciating one in the future. It sounds feeble, I know. But coming from a woman who is trying to console her child about the inconsolable, it made me think.

Reply

essie June 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I think the most egregious part is that the friend (isn’t this one of the reasons the word “frenemy” was invented?) said “Have you changed your mind YET?” As though it were a foregone conclusion that the OP would change her mind and, obviously, a few days was more than adequate for mourning.

Reply

Chocobo June 1, 2011 at 1:13 pm

@Shalamar: I disagree. Just because the friend has never miscarried, or had children at all (and we don’t even know if either of those things are true of the friend), doesn’t mean that they only see the bad parts about having babies. She might have been ignorant or insensitive of how much these things can hurt the expectant parents, but let’s not respond in kind by assuming terrible things about her, like she’s some kind of joyless child-hater.

Reply

DGS June 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm

OP, I am so truly sorry for your loss.

The loss of a baby, whether it’s a miscarriage (before week 20), an early neonatal loss (weeks 20-36) or a full-term fetal demise (week 36 on), stillbirth or death to SIDS, is devastating, and the person(s) going through it need to grieve that enormous heartache in whatever way they can. I have mentioned this before on here – I have lost my twin son and daughter to a double placental abruption at 23w5d which was a huge, grievous hurt. Most people are very kind and supportive in such circumstances. Unfortunately, some people are remarkably selfish and cruel, and while I would like to ascribe good intentions to OP’s friend, the repeated assertion that “you must have changed your mind about the trip” to me suggests selfishness and immaturity rather than an attempt to cheer up the OP. A heart broken from a break-up with a boyfriend can be cheered up immensely by a boozy weekend with the girls, sipping margaritas and getting manicures. A gaping hole left by the loss of a baby cannot be healed as easily.

With our loss, most of our friends and family were remarkably gracious and supportive, but I have also heard some gems of pure insensitivity, some ranging from downright cruel to relatively benign gaffes. So, here is a brief guide on what not to say to someone who last lost a baby:

Do not say:
1) “He/she is in a better place” – the best place for a baby to be is with his or her parents.

2) “There was probably something wrong with it” (in case of a miscarriage) or “A baby born this early would have been retarded” (in case of an early neonatal loss) – While most miscarriages are related to significant chromosomal abnormalities that render the pregnancies non-viable, and most early neonatal losses are tied to extreme prematurity that can often lead to severe cognitive and physical disabilities, assuming that a child is better off dead rather than alive, loved and cared for, is both callous and naive, and asserting that to a grieving parent is the height of presumption.

3) “You are young; you can always have more babies” – One baby does not replace another baby, and a dead child will always be mourned by its grieving parents. What’s more, many women who suffer miscarriages and pregnancy losses have struggled with infertility, so the assumption that they can easily become pregnant and carry a viable fetus to term is ignorant.

4) “This will bring you closer to your husband/family” – My husband and I are as close as two people can be, and one does not have to have a devastating loss to find intimacy with one’s loved ones.

5) “You shouldn’t grieve this too much…It’s not like this was an adult that died” – No one has the right to tell anyone how to grieve.

What to say to someone who lost a child:
“I am so very sorry for your loss”. That is all that is necessary. And sometimes, depending on a person, a hug, an offer to talk, a soothing cup of tea, or a shoulder to cry on is helpful, too.

Reply

Xtina June 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm

OP, I am sorry to hear of your loss. Although I’ve never lost a baby, as a mother, I can understand how deeply you feel such a tragedy. Hopefully time has helped heal you.

What I find is that people who have never had children don’t understand. And I also know how it feels to be in the dark about the other end of it, too–before I became a mother, a close friend lost a baby and although I understood that it was painful to her, it seemed to me a little puzzling since she didn’t actually “know” the baby yet; I simply did not understand the feeling of how you would know your baby even before he or she is born. It takes having one to get it.

What the friend said was probably not purposely hurtful and she was probably thinking that a getaway would be just what the OP needed to cheer her up. I’d forgive it, but writing the friend a letter might be a good idea if the OP feels it would be appropriate to explain why what the friend said was hurtful.

Reply

Xtina June 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Sorry–edit to my previous post; in the second paragraph, last sentence, I mean that it would take having a baby–or having been pregnant before–to understand the feeling of losing a baby. Did not mean to imply that one had to successfully carry a baby to term to understand.

Reply

Ann June 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm

After the first comment, I thought that the friend had merely used awkward or poor wording to express the sentiment that she (and the other friends) would like the letter writer to come on the trip and that they weren’t going to hold her to her previous cancellation if she now wanted to go (I know that isn’t the best wording either). Or maybe even a sentiment that they would like her to go if she thought it would help cheer her up, even if she was worried that she would be a downer for the trip (also not the best wording).

After reading about the second call, I was wowed at the insensitivity. Also reminded at some of the horrible things people said to a friend of mine who had a miscarriage. Including a close female relative of her husband’s telling her she needed to calm down, get over it (exact words), and move on with her life. During the call that friend made to tell her about the miscarriage (a few days after the pregnancy was announced).

Reply

Hemi Halliwell June 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I am very sorry for you loss. I had a miscarriage 15 years ago and I still have pangs of hurt from time to time.
I agree with the comments that your friend did not really mean to upset you so much; she was misguided in her attempt to console you. Also, J’s Mama has a good idea- write your friend a letter and let her know how her comments made you feel. If she still does not understand, maybe you should limit the amount of time you spend with that particular friend.

Reply

HonorH June 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm

At a certain point, intentions don’t matter; effect does. That friend needed to think before she spoke. It would’ve been far better to express sympathy and compassion, and then maybe later suggest that the letter writer might like to come along on the trip after all, just to cheer her up.

Reply

Just Laura June 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Stepmomster,
I find it difficult to believe that you equate a child having a disability with a person who suffered a terrible accident and so has had his hopes and dreams possibly destroyed. I hope that you simply mistyped, and would never actually think that a child born with a disability necessarily closes a door in the parents’ lives.

As someone who has worked with those having developmental disabilities, as well as volunteered with the Special Olympics, many of these parents feel that doors have opened for them. They see the world differently. In addition, other parents believe a disability is simply another thing about their kid that’s unique – just as if the kid had been born with a blonde streak in his hair, or a beauty mark on her chin.

Back to point, I really like DGS’s number 5, as that is correct for many situations.

Reply

Laura June 1, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I am sorry for your loss.

I miscarried a baby a few years ago. It was absolutely devastating for DH and I. One of our friends lost a baby about a year later, and she was completely over the whole experience within a month, ready to “try again.” There is no schedule for grief. It was the second comment from the OP’s friend that was rude, IMO. The first sounded a lot like the odd things we heard after we lost our baby.

Reply

Amber June 1, 2011 at 8:25 pm

I am sorry for the OP’s loss, very much so. But I want to put in a defense for the thoughtless friend. As the Admin said, many ladies who have not miscarried don’t understand that some women are heavily affected by miscarriage.

I say some women, because I am a woman who was not very affected by her own miscarriage. I found out I was pregnant, slowly became giddy with my husband, then loss the baby about 10 weeks in. I felt a twinge of what could be, but to be honest the whole thing was very “oh, well” for me. Perhaps there will be other pregnancies, perhaps not. It may have helped that it was very much an “oops” for the husband and me.

In other words, if my friend had said “Now you can come with us!” I would have replied “Why yes, I can! Well, that certainly is a bright side. I’m not a mommy just yet! Bring on the mimosas!”

Of course, a good friend would know if you’d react with sadness or with mimosas. But I think she may have simply been trying to bring a sense of normalcy and fun to an unpleasant situation.

Reply

Also Elizabeth June 1, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Not to add to the pile, but… unless you’ve had a miscarriage, you don’t understand. I had to forgive a lot of “It wasn’t meant to be” or “It was just her time” when I wanted to slap the person. But clearly that is not correct etiquette.

I heard a lot of stupid things that I let slide, because people don’t know what to say. But the second comment is just callous.

Reply

PattyAnne June 1, 2011 at 10:13 pm

I have never had a miscarriage. I will not pretend to understand how the mother is feeling. I would react with right amount of sadness, but would not say anything more. It would not be polite.

I’ve had it with society. Everyone feels the need to comment beyond the polite “I’m sorry for your loss, is there anything I can do?” People constantly butting in where they are clearly NOT needed. While I’ve never had a miscarriage, my husband and I are infertile. People constantly feel the need to comment “Well, have you tried X,Y or Z” or “Have you seen Dr. A? He’s the best”

Frankly I don’t care what they suggest. There is nothing anyone can do. Leave me alone after I tell you “It’s private, thank you.”

OP, sorry for your loss.

Reply

shari June 1, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I’ve had a few miscarriages and can no longer have children but I didn’t find what she said so bad.
I think she was just trying to cheer you up and take your mind of things and you are probably a little more emotionally on tenderhooks than you usually are when you’re with them as a group.

Reply

Angela June 1, 2011 at 10:40 pm

I have had two miscarriages and agree that people really don’t appreciate the grief…it’s like someone pulled a rug out from under you, emotionally. The friend may have thought the trip would be good for the OP, or she may have been tone-deaf to the OP’s distress. A lot of people tend to assume that it’s not like a “real baby” died and it’s like having a pet die. That’s far from the case.
I also have a child with Down syndrome and thought Stepmomster was referring to the loss of the child you thought you would have. We had to come to terms with the fact that the child we expected and had planned for was far from the child we got. There will be no college, very likely no wedding, no first house, and no biological grandchildren from him (men with DS are sterile). We grieved the loss of these things and I think that was necessary before enjoying him as he is. (The list was to explain the grief; I don’t want anyone to pity us).

Reply

Ange June 1, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I’m sorry for your loss OP.

What I’m hearing is a lot of ‘unless you’ve had a miscarriage you’ll never understand.’ Which I’m sure is true, so why are we then jumping all over people who by our own admission will never get it? The friend was probably insensitive but if she is a true friend she’ll react accordingly if the OP tells her how her comments made her feel. If not then yeah, perhaps move on.

Reply

Ista June 1, 2011 at 11:57 pm

I too have been through a miscarriage. 7 years later, almost 8, I still remember him every Independence Day (I miscarried shortly after). I forgave people’s clumsy words, because they didn’t understand the pain…we were all quite young. Now, I have two children, and I’ve had to be forgiven my clumsy words to others in their times of grief. Don’t hold a grudge. If she’s a dear friend, and it’s apparent her heart is in the right place, forgive and move on. Someday you may be trying to comfort her and she may take something you said as rude.

Reply

StephF June 2, 2011 at 2:35 am

I work alot with women who have had miscarriages/stillborns/SIDS deaths.
There is a tendancy for people aound these grieved parents to try and find something to say to “help” – it’s a natural human thing, we want to “fix” problems, and forget to acknowledge emotions.
I totally feel for you, OP – it’s a terrible thing that has happened to you and a terrible thing for your friend to have done. But I honestly believe that this friend of yours (a long-term friend, by the sounds of it) intended the best, and maybe not now, maybe in a few years will KICK hersel for the way she responded.

Reply

Edhla June 2, 2011 at 5:11 am

Although I have not had a miscarriage, this subject really does hit hard on me- I guessed pregnancy loss would be in the story from the heading, still read it, and… wow, I am so horrified.

I’m so sorry, OP.

While I’m at it, honestly, people. When someone has died, whether they be born or not yet born, the correct phraseology is:

“I am so very sorry for your loss. I’m here for you if you need anything or if there is anything I can do for you.”

How hard is that? You are a gracious woman for accepting there may have been reasons for her first blurt out, but when she repeated it… if I were a juror, you’d probably have walked if you’d decided to kill her and it were up to me to acquit you!

Reply

Erin June 2, 2011 at 7:31 am

OP, I am very sorry for your loss.

Reply

Lilac June 2, 2011 at 11:29 am

The friend was a bit insensitive but I feel like I may be missing something. Since the OP still paid for the trip and her friend’s were not out any money or inconvenienced in any way by her missing the trip, how does the OP going now being ablte to go on the trip make her life “go on as normal” in any other way than being able to enjoy the OP’s company? I can see why the OP would think that she was not up to having fun when she would be grieving but thinking her friend was being selfish seems a strong reaction. I can’t imagine that her friend thought that her own enjoyment of the trip hinged on the prescence of the OP. It seems more likely that she was trying to put a looking on the bright side spin to the situation that ended up seeming callous but was probably well meaning.

Reply

karma June 2, 2011 at 11:36 am

From reading these comments, here are my humble thoughts. “Loss” means something different to each person, therefore trying to mandate a one-size-fits-all phrase to blurt out to anyone who experiences a difficulty is nearly impossible. People advocate saying, “I’m sorry for your loss”, but I’ve seen message boards where folks take offense at that too and act as if the speaker is downplaying their devastation by calling it a “loss”. (A loss?! It’s not like I lost my earring! This was my spouse/child/friend/sibling/dog!)

In other words, it seems that often there is nothing a well-meaning person can say to a person who is grieving. On the other hand, I’ve seen people get worked up because other people didn’t seem to say enough. In those times, the very fact that people *didn’t* try to talk with the person offended and hurt them. (‘Nobody has asked how I am doing since I returned to work/church. They all act as if they don’t know what to say to me.”)

My personal “phrase” to people I know are hurting is to say, “I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I wish it hadn’t, and I wish I had a way to make your pain go away.”

That’s the best I can do. No, I can’t imagine their pain. No, I don’t really understand it unless I’ve experienced it or something like it (and even that varies by person). No, nothing I say will be enough.

Reply

8daysaweek June 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I think most of the time, gaffes like this come from people who want to say the right thing but aren’t quite sure what that is. In my opinion, there is only really one appropriate response for someone who is grieving any kind of loss: “I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do for you?”

Reply

Elena June 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm

OP, I am sorry about your loss. I had a miscarriage threat at 9 weeks and no one but close family members knew, so my husband and I didn’t have to deal with breaking the news to people that most probably there won’t be a baby. My husband told his parents and sister, as well as my parents and asked them not to talk to me about baby things because I was so fragile. A few hour later his sister took me aside and told me “My boss said she will give you all her old baby things”.

Wow! I was stunned. Later, after being confronted by my husband, my mother-in-law called me and screamed that it was my own fault and that I am not open to people. His father’s excuse for the sister was that “she was just excited”.

So I really feel for you knowing what you were going through and how awful it is to deal with tactless people at a time so painful that no other pain can compare

Reply

abbie June 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Well, it obvious from the comments that if one has not had a miscarriage one does not understand the grief. I have had a miscarriage (14 weeks) and I was RELIEVED. There was no grief on my part (but a lot of bizarre emotions thanks to hormone flux), so even if you have been there, you still may not understand. It does not seem the friend was trying to be insensitive. It sounds as if friend really meant no ill, but just simply does not understand the OP’s feelings or pain. If friend is childless or childfree she may simply be thinking about the money OP has already laid down; to someone with out little ones, money is often in the top five most imporant things (and it is for people with little ones, too, but most people rank their kids before money. I rank my cats before money, but only slightly!) OP needs to speak calmy and directly to her friend and tell her that her concern over the trip has hurt her feelings. Friend is probably clueless to OP’s pain and OP is not going to see their friendship grow if she is unable to explain to her friend that her words are coming off as insensitive. I would hate to think I was making the same crude remark unknowingly and instead of discussing it with me a friend would just tell me there was someone at the door.

Reply

Maitri June 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm

I’ve never had a miscarriage, but I would have been devastated if I had. That person has absolutely no empathy whatsoever. I am sorry that this happened to the OP.

@ Edhla ~ just a personal preference, but I particular hate hearing “I’m sorry for your loss.” I feel like it’s been trite-ified and overused and now it’s just emotionless wording that people spew automatically. If I had lost someone and I heard that, I would not be happy. So I wouldn’t call that “correct,” just more common than uncommon.

Reply

Sarah June 3, 2011 at 12:12 am

I’ve never had a child or a miscarriage or a pregnancy or even experienced the death of anyone very close to me, I know I can’t even imagine the extent of the OP’s pain, but I still wouldn’t say “woo party time!”, see that my friend was upset by that then, next time I spoke with her, bring it up again! That’s just common sense, you don’t need to have a similar experience to figure it out. If the friend really was considerate and only wanted to cheer the OP up, she could have said “do you think you would like to come on girls’ weekend after all to take your mind off things?” and if she said no, say “ok, the offer’s open if you change your mind” and leave it at that.

Reply

Hanna June 3, 2011 at 10:26 am

You know, I really cannot blame the friend for what she said, though. If I was that friend, that would honestly be a thought that would pop in to my mind. Oh, she can go on the trip with us now. But I know that miscarriages can be a long and painful process, emotionally but also physically as well. A lot of people don’t realize that. They think a miscarriage pretty much just involves something similar to having a period, and then that whole process is done with, just like that. The friend was definitely insensitive, but in her defense, she probably was thinking that it would be a nice time to get away, get her friend’s mind off the miscarriage, have a nice, relaxing time at the spa, etcetera.

Reply

XtinaS June 3, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I just wrote a post elsewhere about how I’m tired of “but they meant well!” trumping my feelings.  (The context being advice-giving when I didn’t ask for any.)  It fits here, too.

It is entirely probable that the friend meant well, that the friend was trying to cheer the LW up, &c &c.  However, I cannot get behind the concept that being “well-meaning” absolves someone of thinking about what they’re going to say for two seconds before they talk.  Two seconds of thought would reveal to the friend that this isn’t at all similar to “She had plans, but they fell through, so yay weekend away!”, emotionally speaking.

The “yet” puts the lie to the notion that she just didn’t know what to say at the time.  I’ve had foot-in-mouth instances of saying the wrong thing, but I usually realise immediately, and later I send some sort of note saying I’m sorry that I spoke with my mouth full of foot.  If I screwed up accidentally — like, if I said the wrong thing, but I didn’t realise, due to context I wasn’t privy to — I’d hope the person would tell me so I could be sorry.  But who on earth manages to survive to adulthood without learning that women who miscarry when the pregnancy was wanted might be a little put out, maybe?

If this friend is important to the LW, it might be useful to try to explain that when a wanted pregnancy terminates early, that’s a bad thing, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Reply

Enna June 4, 2011 at 5:12 am

I’m so sorry for you OP. What you firend said was misguided and inconsiderate.

If she wanted you to feel included at such a traumatic time she should have said it in a better way. e.g. “if you need a change of scene …” and when you didn’t want to go she should have excepted that.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: