What Not To Say To A Woman Who Has Had A Miscarriage


I remember uncomfortably lying there, silently praying for a miracle.

They were probing around looking for the heartbeat. I looked on the monitor waiting to see some sign of life, anything. I had been to the emergency room a few days prior for spotting, but now it was worse, the spotting turned into cramping and heavy bleeding, which usually is a detrimental warning sign in early pregnancy. These were signs that they told me to look out for on my initial discharge papers. I stopped looking at the monitor because I couldn't take it anymore. When deep down I knew I had lost the baby. The silence and continuous search for a sign of life went on for what seemed like forever…

Finally, the doctor took off the monitor, washed his hands, his face grew solemn as he looked at us and then confirmed that we had lost the baby. At the time, I didn't realize it but he said some of the things that I needed to hear. He sat on the bed and told us that it wasn't our fault. He stated the medical jargon about the statistics but went on to say that it didn't happen because I fell, it didn't happen because we were stressed about money, and it didn't happen if I went out with friends and had drinks prior to finding out that I was pregnant. He just held my hand, passed me tissues, and said that he is sorry and repeated it's not your fault.

I didn't realize how common miscarriages were until I started to experience them. It's a topic that people usually don't speak publically about, but now they are starting to be somewhat normalized (as they should be) with celebrities like Gabrielle Union and more recently Ludacris' wife Eudoxie sharing their experiences going through them. Even men like Lance Gross and Omari Hardwick have come out to discuss the pain of losing a child.

It's really hard to comfort anyone when they experience a loss, but how do you comfort a friend or family member when they feel like they lost it all through a miscarriage? I quickly learned that those ideal comforting words were not so comforting, they were unsettling actually. Here are 4 common words of comfort that you should think twice about saying to someone who has just experienced a miscarriage:

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

Right after our loss, the tension grew in my relationship. We lashed out at one another over the unknown. My boyfriend one day got frustrated with me and told me that God didn't want it to happen and the baby wasn't meant to be.

When those words came out of my then boyfriend's mouth, I honestly didn't know whether to slap him or leave him. It hurt so bad, I thought I was ready to end the relationship. For one, how could he even think that, much less say it? And two, though I do not consider myself to be churchy, I do believe in God and I felt at the time that there was no way that God would want this for anyone. I didn't feel that this was the work of God. My boyfriend expected me to snap out of it and just move on with my life. He wanted his girlfriend back.

You can't tell a woman that has been yearning to have children that the pregnancy wasn't meant to be and expect it to sit well.

Those that desire to be moms yearn to become pregnant and birth babies. Some of us feel that motherhood was what we were put here to do so how dare someone tell us that it wasn't meant to be.

2. "That's normal."

Save the statistics. Please don't play the probability game when someone is going through this. Yes, 1 in 4 women experience a miscarriage. I remember reading that statistic over and over again in the very limited child loss section of the What to Expect When Expecting book as my symptoms started to get worse. Yes, many women go on to have normal pregnancies and healthy babies after their first miscarriage. Hearing these words don't make things better at the moment though.

What many fail to realize is that nothing about a miscarriage feels normal. It actually feels the opposite.

The fact that one day you go into a doctor's office with a life inside of you and on another random day you leave after just finding out that the life that was supposed to be growing inside of you has perished.You leave feeling an unexplainable emptiness. The reason why this is so insensitive is that what we are going through at the time doesn't seem real- it's a nightmare. It's hard to comprehend. Furthermore, we are not just numbers. We are actually people with feelings and it takes time to even try to normalize it especially since no one really talks about what is so "normal."

3. "Try again."

When I decided to share my loss with certain people, they would instantly tell me to try again. This felt like I was being brushed off. This saying is more gratifying to the person saying it because they deem it as an instant solution to the problem. I literally just lost a baby, so trying again was the last thing on my mind. I was mourning this baby. Telling me to try again is like telling me to buy another pet fish. As if the newly conceived baby could replace the one that was lost.

When a woman has a miscarriage, she has the right to grieve that child.

Though she may worry about being able to conceive in the future, please be empathetic to the fact that she did just lose her unborn child and that child cannot be replaced with another one. I am not saying not to later encourage her to try again if that's what she expresses she wants, but be cognizant of the time period. If she just lost a baby, you need to be there for her instead of pushing her to do something that she cannot mentally or physically fathom. Also, be aware of her specific situation, some women have tried numerous times and have experienced repeated miscarriages Some women are told that their chance of conception is unlikely so your definition of trying is not only insensitive it may be unrealistic. Lastly, be mindful that the miscarried mom is grieving what could have been.

4. "The baby's in a better place."

This one baffles me and maybe it's a bit selfish, but what better place is there to be for a baby than with its mother in her loving arms? This saying is hurtful period and I admit after having my first miscarriage, I stopped saying this to people that experienced any loss cause I realized how insensitive it can be. If you want to get biblical, you can let the person know that you are praying for them and really pray for them as opposed to just saying it cause it sounds nice.

Pray for their healing, pray for their well-being, and pray that their prayers are answered.

Coming from a woman who has experienced miscarriages, I've learned the best thing that you can do is tell someone that you are sorry for them, be compassionate and listen to them, give them as much time as they need to grieve and try to be there for them. Other helpful advice that was given to me during this difficult time was to remember that the dad is hurting too and to try not to ostracize him during this difficult time.

Most importantly, for my miscarried mamas, don't let others tell you how you should feel or move forward, you do what you feel you have to do to heal.

And for everyone else, save those common phrases and speak compassionately from the heart.

Featured image by Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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