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Local Column

Cheeky Mama: Etiquette when talking to bereaved parents

I am one in four mothers who have miscarried. The law doesn’t even recognize that my baby existed because it was only 15 weeks.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I can’t help but think of my baby in heaven. In the SHARE support group, we understand the heartache that haunts us.  

On a Facebook page for the DeKalb Area Miscarriage Support Group, we compiled a list of things that friends, family even strangers should or should not say to a grieving parent during Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or any other time.

Such sentiments might be well-intended, but to us they are thorns in our already broken heart. 

I hope this list can help others understand the feelings of a bereaved parent, as well as what not to say.  

“You can always try again.”

“At least it was early.”

“Well, you’re young.”

“When do you plan on having more?”

“At least you have other kids.”

“They are in a better place.”

“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

“It will happen when it is meant to happen.”

“At least you know you can get pregnant.”

“You need to relax, it happens more than you think.”

“I am so lucky that didn’t happen to me.”

“What did you do to cause the miscarriage?”

“Why can’t you just let it go? It wasn’t even a baby yet.”

Here are some things that are OK to say to a grieving mother:

“I am sorry for your loss.”

“Can I give you a hug?”

“Is there something I can do for you?” (And follow through with it!)

“Take all the time you need to grieve.”

“I love you.” (Actions speak louder than words.)

“I am thinking about you guys.” (Remember, the father is grieving, too.) 

“I don’t know what to say.”

Sometimes words aren’t sufficient, and you can show your support in different ways, such as:

Acknowledging the fact that we are actual parents to an angel.

If the baby was named, use it when referring to the miscarriage.

Remember due dates and loss dates.

Just let us cry and cry some more!

Come to memorials and charity walks or remind us on special days that I am a parent. 

I know this column is less cheeky and more about a bereaved mother. But miscarriages often are swept under the carpet because most people don’t know what to do and it’s uncomfortable. I hope this advice can help.

The grief that we will carry forever is a constant reminder that strangely we don’t want to forget. As parents, I think we have a need to want to keep our babies lives, at the very least, a memory.

Inevitably, a miscarriage will change the lives of a mother and father. It would be so thoughtful for friends and family to support us during our forever grief.  

Please know that you don’t have to go through grief alone. Northwestern Medicine’s SHARE Support Group meets from 7 to 9 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the Hospice Center, 2727 Sycamore Road in DeKalb.

• Becca Hirst is a proud DeKalb resident who writes about her life as a working mother. She hopes to bring more enjoyment to and less shaming and judging of herself and other mothers. Reach her at

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