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Simply say, ‘I’m sorry’: Supporting parents after a miscarriage

A woman at the seaside holding up a sign reading: “I’m so sorry you are going through this. I’m here for you.”

Gemma shared her story for the Simply Say campaign. Message reads: “I’m so sorry you are going through this. I’m here for you.” All photos by the Miscarriage Association.

A new campaign by the Miscarriage Association is helping thousands of people open up and talk about pregnancy loss. Simply Say is asking women and their partners to share the comments and expressions of sympathy that helped them after a miscarriage or ectopic or molar pregnancy – as well as those comments that weren’t so helpful.

When someone has experienced pregnancy loss, their friends, relatives and co-workers may feel awkward and unsure of what to say. Afraid of causing further distress, sometimes people end up saying nothing at all.

That’s why the Miscarriage Association is sharing information and advice to help people reach out to those they know who are grieving after pregnancy loss.

A woman holding up signs reading: “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say, but here if you need me #Say” and “Well, at least you know you can get pregnant! #DontSay” Natasha’s messages read: “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say, but here if you need me #Say” and “Well, at least you know you can get pregnant! #DontSay”

“When I went back to work I still remember people who said, ‘I’m sorry, it must be awful are you okay?’” said Paul, whose baby died during his partner’s pregnancy.

“That is all people need to say. It is a bereavement. People mistake it for something different, but you are dealing with the loss of someone who meant the world to you and it needs to be treated with the same level of empathy.”

A man at the seaside holding up a sign that reads: “This must be so tough for you. I’m so sorry.” Paul’s message reads: “This must be so tough for you. I’m so sorry.”

Michelle, who has experienced three miscarriages, described the pain of pregnancy loss and others’ reaction to it.

“Being in hospital was really traumatic,” she said. “You are sat in a room full of pregnant women with big bulging stomachs. I felt sick sitting there and seeing couples with their lovely scan photos. I felt my heart was breaking.”

A woman holding up a sign reading “Say ‘I am here to listen’! Don’t say ‘You can try again!’”

Michelle’s message reads: “Say ‘I am here to listen’! Don’t say ‘You can try again!’”

“People’s responses to miscarriage can be so different. Some people would ask how I was whereas others just didn’t know what to say and would avoid saying anything to me about it.

“I just wanted someone to talk to and listen to me. However, even now I find people are still making judgements. I often hear ‘aren’t you going to have any more’ or ‘don’t you want more children.’ In response, I always tell them I have had three miscarriages.”

The Miscarriage Association has produced resources and easy-to-read information for anyone supporting a friend or relative through pregnancy loss, including a campaign animation, which has been viewed more than 55,000 times on Facebook alone. Watch the video below:

In addition, hundreds of people have been sharing their stories and advice on social media with the hashtags #Say and #DontSay.

Everyone is different and there’s no one-size-fits all approach to supporting someone through grief, but if you’re unsure of what to say after a miscarriage, the following guidelines could help:

What to say

  • “I’m sorry”
  • “I’m very sorry that you have lost your baby.”
  • “This must be really difficult for you.”
  • “I don’t know what to say.”
  • “What can I do to help?”
  • “Would you like to talk?”
  • “I’m here to listen”

What not to say

  • “Don’t worry, you’re young. You can always have another baby.”
  • “It wasn’t really a baby.”
  • “Think of it as a bad period.”
  • “It wasn’t meant to be.”
  • “It was probably for the best.”
  • “At least you have other children.”

Angie’s message reads: “I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say.”

Angie’s message reads: “I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say.”

If you have experienced pregnancy loss, or want more advice on supporting someone who has, you can contact the Miscarriage Association’s helpline on 01924 200799, Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm – or you can email them on info@miscarriageassociation.org.uk.

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