Other people’s reactions
Coping with your own feelings about miscarriage or ectopic or molar pregnancy can be difficult enough. But you may be dealing with other people’s reactions to your loss, too.
It can be hard to cope if people around you don’t understand how you are feeling.
Your parents and your partner’s parents may be mourning the loss of their grandchild and worrying about you at the same time. They may not know what to say and perhaps end up saying the wrong things even though they mean well.
That can be true of other family, friends and colleagues too, as Romy explains.
Some people will avoid talking about your loss altogether. They may worry it will make you feel worse, or they may just feel very uncomfortable.
Some people might try to cheer you up. They may tell you stories of others who had several miscarriages and then had a baby; or if you have a child or children, they might suggest you should be grateful. (You might be, but that doesn’t necessarily make you feel better.)
Someone said ‘it was only a bunch of cells’ but to my husband and me it was a baby and it was going to be our son or daughter.
Some people might view your miscarriage as a ‘good’ outcome. They might think that a young person, or someone with several children, is better off having a miscarriage than having a baby. They might think that an older mum should have expected things to go wrong. They might expect you to feel relieved.
These reactions can be hurtful. But sadly, some people will just not understand what your loss means to you. You may decide it’s best just to avoid them, or you might want to try explaining how you feel.
Explaining your feelings about pregnancy loss
It may help to show them our leaflet for family and friends, or to suggest they take a look at our animation. Work colleagues and managers may find it helpful to have a look at the relevant information on our Miscarriage and the Workplace hub. We also have more information to help you cope with going back to work after a loss.’
Some people might be upset by how you behave after your loss. For example, you may feel you have to avoid pregnant women or people with children for a while. They may deal with this in different ways – some people will be supportive but others might feel upset, emotional or angry without really knowing why. They may take it personally or think you are making a big deal out of nothing.
This could be because they don’t understand – or because they feel guilty about unintentionally making things harder for you. They may just feel sad that your relationship has to change for a while. No one likes being avoided, even if the reasons are completely understandable.
These reactions can make things even harder, especially if they are friends, family members or colleagues.
You could try and explain that it upsets you at the moment, but that it isn’t anything to do with them personally and you hope you can stay friends. If you find it difficult to talk face to face, it might help to write things down in a text, an email or a letter. If you can’t put how you feel into words, you could share a page from our website or a personal story that reflects your experience. This could also give them a chance to process their own emotions before replying.
I don’t feel comfortable with friends with new babies. I used to hide away. Now I just openly say it upsets me and people understand. I guess they don’t know unless you talk.
If these feelings last a long time, or are very distressing, you might find it helpful to look for some support. A therapist could help you find coping strategies to make things a little easier to bear.
But you may know or find people who – quite unexpectedly – turn out to be totally understanding and very supportive. In this short film, Tina and Steve share their experience of talking about their miscarriage with others and how good support from family and friends helped them through.
Your partner’s reaction to pregnancy loss
Your partner, if you have one, is likely to feel upset because of what you have gone through, as well as for the loss of your baby. Both of you may be grieving over the loss of the future. You may be able to support each other very well and even feel closer as a result.
But grief can put a strain on even the closest relationships. Just when you need each other most, it may be difficult to say or do the right things – especially if one of you is hiding your feelings in order to be strong for the other. You may find our Partners page helpful.
Perhaps your partner is unsympathetic or relieved about the loss; or you don’t have a partner. If your relationship broke down, perhaps because of the pregnancy or the miscarriage, this might feel like a double loss.
These situations can leave you feeling very lonely and you may need additional support.
If you already have a child or children when you miscarry, it can be very hard to know what, if anything, to tell them. It can be hard to answer their questions if you are distressed. Nicola talks here about the conversations she had with her five-year-old daughter, noting:
The trauma of having to go home and tell our 5 year old daughter our baby hadn’t survived was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
If you don’t have children, you may have a similar dilemma with the children of close family or friends, or if you work with children.
The children in my class, aged 6 and 7, were sympathetic. Their caring and understanding response made me feel it was the right decision to tell them.
Our leaflet Talking to children may help you decide the best way forward.
An example of a book written to help with conversations about pregnancy loss with children is available here. Special thanks to author Gillian Griffiths and illustrator Lindsay MacLeod for sharing this with us.
Worried about people’s reactions?
If it was very early in your pregnancy or you were worried about other people’s reactions, then you may not have told anyone about your pregnancy or your miscarriage. That can leave you feeling very lonely.
Please remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. Our staff, support volunteers and others who have been through pregnancy loss are here to help you through.