"Don't use 'at least' statements." How to (and how not to) talk to someone who's had a miscarriage.

Miscarriage makes people uncomfortable. It has been swept under the rug for so long that we now find ourselves in a position where, as a society, there is a lack of education and understanding about how to support someone whose baby has died.

Baby death makes people uncomfortable. It’s a reverse of the natural order, and we find when people don’t know what to say, they say nothing — but that silence can be deafening for our community. It tells bereaved parents they need to keep their loss to themselves, like a shameful secret they need to hide. It isolates them and can exacerbate their grief.

There is also a common misconception that after a very short time, you are recovered from your miscarriage and ready to 'move on.'

Watch: Mia Freedman on miscarriage. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

We have found the complete opposite from speaking with our community: we see that to the bereaved parent, this is the death of a much-wanted baby, which can have a profound and lasting effect for many years. Just imagine — the very throught of falling pregnant again because you so desperately want a baby, but being absolutely terrified of experiencing another miscarriage.


Pregnancy after a loss is something I have personally experienced four times. In two of those pregnancies, I have managed to carry my baby to term and deliver them, but the other two times, my babies died again. In all of those pregnancies I struggled to lean into the joy of bringing a baby into our family. Every day was anxiety-ridden and quite frankly exhausting. Yet to the outside world I was fine — I wore my brave face and displayed gratitude for being a 'lucky' one to be pregnant again.

What I hope you can see from these tiny insights is just how complex the journey of pregnancy loss can be for the bereaved mother. We need so much more validation, empathy, and connection to ensure we don’t fall through the cracks and suffer alone in our grief.

Doing better as a society to support others.

Our recently published report, The State of Early Pregnancy Loss in Australia, highlights that an overwhleming majority of women who experience a miscarriage seek support from their immediate networks of friends and family.

With one in three women in Australia experiencing pregnancy loss, it is paramount that EVERYBODY learns how to support bereaved parents.

With a statistic so high, it’s inevitable that someone you love will experience a miscarriage. Grief is messy, uncomfortable, and painful. Navigating how to comfort a friend or family member through this 'taboo' experience is difficult — but don’t let the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing hold you back from trying to help at all.


What to say to someone who has experienced pregnancy loss.

It begins with VALIDATION. It is not okay to start any response with 'at least' statements. Some common ones we hear are, 'At least it happened early,' or 'At least you know you can fall pregnant.'

All this does is minimise the grief the parent is feeling and tell them that their baby is not a big enough loss to grieve. Imagine saying to someone who had just lost their child to cancer, 'At least they were young.' You wouldn’t in that scenario, and you shouldn’t in ours.

What you can say is a simple, 'I’m sorry for your loss' or 'I’m sorry your baby died.' The acknowledgement is important because it validates our experience as bereavement. It removes the disenfranchised grief so many in our community tell us they feel. When we minimise the death of our baby by trying to find a silver lining, we are inadvertently telling the bereaved parent that the death of their baby is not that big of a deal.

Listen to Get Me Pregnant, On this episode, we cover the difficult and emotional topic of miscarriage. Post continues below.

There is no such thing as 'at least' when it comes to pregnancy loss.

I can’t remember all of the 'at least' comments I personally experienced, but the one that hurt the most was around the fact I already had a living daughter.

'At least you already have a child, focus on Georgie, you’ll feel better,' said a well-meaning friend. She was trying to ease my grief, but actually it made me feel far less understood and more isolated.


In my head, all I could think was, 'No! There is no "at least" about this situation! My baby has died and I am devastated. I just want my baby back, I don’t want to be pregnant again, I don’t want to get out of bed. As much as I love Georgie, she is a daily reminder of what I have just lost — another beautiful version of her.'

So please do away with your 'at least' statements and stop saying them to bereaved parents in the hope that you are going to make us feel better. You won’t. You only minimise our grief and isolate us further. At a time when we need to feel seen, validated, supported, and connected.

Actions speak louder than words.

What we really need from you is for you to witness our grief, validate it’s okay to feel/react in any way that feels natural to us, and to provide a safe space for us to talk if we want to.

We might not be ready to talk or see anyone in the early days after our loss — it can be natural to want to hide away — but you can easily send us a simple text telling us you are thinking of us but not expecting a response. Like any other bereavement, you can send flowers or a card, or cook a meal and drop it at the door.

When we are ready to talk, it’s important you don’t try and fix our situation with platitudes or 'solutions.' Instead, be guided by the bereaved parent and often just listening and being empathetic is enough. Sitting with us in our grief and acknowledging it’s okay to be shocked, numb, devastated, angry, and confused can really help us to feel seen and supported.


Understand that like any other bereavement, there is no timeframe on our grief. Some women will want to return to work quickly and start to try and conceive again quickly, others will want more time to sit with the loss of their baby — both reactions are okay and normal. There are so many layers of complexity that factor into this experience: how long have they been trying to conceive, how old are they, was this their second, third loss. Understanding their back story might help you to empathise, but not all women are ready to share and sadly with all the taboo and shame still surrounding miscarriage, many hide their journeys.

Just listen and be present for us and understand that there is no 'at least' with early pregnancy loss.

Finally, remember to connect loved ones to support such as The Pink Elephants, a free peer support network of others with lived experiences. Because even though pregnancy loss is an individual experience, it shouldn’t be walked alone.

Samantha Payne is the CEO and Co-Founder of The Pink Elephants Support Network, Australia’s leading early pregnancy loss support charity. In 2021 she was an Australian of the Year NSW Finalist. Samantha believes that while pregnancy loss is an individual journey, it is something no one should have to walk alone.

Feature Image: Supplied