A research team who exhibited at the International Stillbirth Alliance Conference in Madrid 2019, compiled a list of phrases bereaved parents noted as helpful, and those that were cited as unhelpful.
This list very much matches the experiences LMC members have reported over the years.
• I am so sorry for what you are going through
• I don’t have the words to express how I feel
• I cannot imagine what you are feeling
• It is alright for you to cry
• I am here to listen to you (and actually listen)
• I don’t know what to say
• You have a gorgeous baby
• How do you feel?
• Would you like to talk or would you prefer to be quiet?
• Would you like me to stay or would you like to be alone?
• I would like to do something for you
• Be strong
• Try not to cry
• You need to move on
• Time heals
• This was God’s plan
• Everything happens for a reason
• This is not the end of the world
• Now you have a little angel
• Your baby is not suffering now
• Your baby is in a better place
• Your baby wouldn’t want you to be upset
• You can have another one
• Be strong, you must be strong for your partner or other children
• This will make you a better person
• Time is a great healer
• You will/should forget this
• Keep busy/distract yourself
• Everyone dies
• It is better now than later
There is a recurring theme of friends and family attempting to find a silver lining or to look on the bright side. If a person who is experiencing baby loss – or any tragedy – chooses to see a positive side to that experience then that is their prerogative. To expect them to do so, or to try to force them to adopt a positive outlook, is wholly inappropriate. It is highly inadvisable and very insensitive to start any sentence with, “At least…”
Some examples of phrases to avoid:
“At least you know you can get pregnant”.
“At least you have other children”.
“At least you didn’t lose a child to cancer”.
“At least it wasn’t a cot death”.
“At least you didn’t see her alive”.
“At least you found out early”.
“At least you hadn’t told anyone you were pregnant yet”.
You can contact LMC on our helpline: 086 374 5474 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org