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“At least you weren’t further along”: Miscarriage and Toxic Positivity

30th May 2024

Miscarriage is difficult enough – the physical trauma, emotional toll, in combination with the social isolation and stigma can be consuming (I don’t need to tell you).

The experience is then further intensified when we share our loss and encounter insensitive reactions. I’m going to focus on the comments which may seem comforting, but are instead far from it. You know the ones – the silver lining cliches, the ‘turning lemons into lemonade’ statements – AKA: toxic positivity.

Toxic positivity is very different to optimism – which serves as a useful tool to process our grief. Toxic positivity instead rejects any negative emotion – causing suppression. It demands you to ‘look on the brighter side’ no matter what. With miscarriage, toxic positivity often begin with ‘at least…’ (I know you know):


  • At least you’re young and can try again.
  • At least you weren’t further along.
  • At least it wasn’t a baby yet.
  • At least you can get pregnant.
  • At least you already have a child*.
  • At least you can have lie-ins/go on holiday without screaming kids.


Other corkers –


  • It’s nearly Christmas!
  • You can have a drink!
  • There’s always someone who has it worse than you.
  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • It’s up to you how you choose to react to this.


* I always think this one is like saying – ‘Sorry your dad died, but at least you still have your mum’.


Toxic positivity exacerbates the miscarriage experience. This is because it invalidates and dismisses our emotions. We internalise it and question ourselves – believing our true feelings must be unacceptable. Maybe it isn’t that bad? Maybe I’m overreacting?

We are prevented from being authentic and instead conceal our struggles. Suppressing emotions leads to bottling grief.

It may be hard to believe, but from my time working in this space, I have learned that people who say such things are often well intentioned. They believe they’re offering comfort, encouragement and/or support. Sometimes they say these things because they don’t know what to say. We don’t speak enough about miscarriage and so often people don’t have the tools to know how to respond appropriately and sensitively to it. Even people who have been through it themselves sometimes say the wrong thing.

Once we reflect on this, it can be helpful for us to understand that these comments are not intentionally undermining our emotions. They simply come from a lack of awareness, and the human inclination to solve problems. We don’t like things we can’t fix. We’re also uncomfortable with death, especially intangible losses.


What can you do?


  1. Give yourself permission, time and space to feel how you feel. Your feelings are valid. Sadness, anger, jealousy etc. are all natural emotions after miscarriage. You don’t have to ‘get over it’ or pretend to be happy. When life gives you lemons, you can’t always make lemonade, and that’s okay.
  2. It’s not your job to educate, but if you feel able to challenge toxic positivity this allows you to be true to your feelings, and each time you challenge, you are also potentially helping someone else. It can be as simple as saying ‘while I want to be hopeful, I’m not there yet’. Practise your challenging responses.
  3. Journaling can lower the intensity of negative feelings, as can talking.
  4. Surround yourself with people who get it, or if they don’t fully get it – can empathise.
  5. Delegate any jobs to give you headspace where you can.
  6. Consider joining a forum to vent (the MA closed Facebook forum is amazing).
  7. Seek formal support e.g., counselling to delve into your grief with a professional.
  8. Don’t feel guilty for smiling again. Do things you enjoy, but in your own time.


Thank you for reading my first blog piece for the MA, what a pleasure it has been to write this. I hope you find it helpful.


Take care – and importantly – be true to yourself and your feelings, whatever they may be.


Katy x


Katy Schnitzler

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