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Empathy in Action: Understanding What Helps and What Hurts - Part 4: "At least it wasn't further along in the pregnancy"

Updated: Apr 9

Navigating the aftermath of pregnancy loss often invites a chorus of well-intentioned but misguided comments. While these words may seek to offer solace, they can inadvertently minimize the devastating grief of losing a child. Each life, no matter how brief, holds immeasurable value and significance. It's crucial to recognize and honor the depth of loss experienced by parents who have endured pregnancy loss, irrespective of the gestational age. The next well-meaning phrase we will discuss is:

The image features the title "EMPATHY IN ACTION: UNDERSTANDING WHAT HELPS AND WHAT HURTS" in dark, capitalized letters at the top against a pale pink background. Below the title, there's a large heart in the center with a watercolor texture in shades of pink. On the right side of the heart is a paper note graphic that contains the text "Part 4: 'At least it wasn't further along in the pregnancy'" in a handwritten-style font, indicating the continuation of a series on empathetic communication, specifically addressing phrases that may be unintentionally hurtful in sensitive situations.


"At least it wasn’t further along in the pregnancy."


When confronted with the sorrowful news of a miscarriage, the intention to comfort can sometimes lead us to say, "At least it wasn’t further along in the pregnancy." But grief does not recognize 'at leasts.' It does not discriminate between the early weeks and the later months. Each lost pregnancy represents not just the loss of a developing life, but the shattering of dreams, hopes, and a unique connection. The pain is not less for those who miscarried early; it is simply their own. It's a shared sorrow that unites all women who have walked through the valley of pregnancy loss, regardless of the timing.


The bond between a mother and her child begins at conception, not at a milestone of pregnancy. To suggest that the grief might be less intense at an earlier stage unwittingly dismisses the depth of that bond and the reality of that loss. Let us not fall into the trap of quantifying pain or comparing losses. Each experience of grief is valid, each loss is significant, and each woman's journey through mourning is her own.


What to say instead:

In offering comfort, let us choose words that honor the reality of loss at any stage, words that offer support without conditions or comparisons. Consider saying:


"My heart breaks with yours over the loss of your little one. Your pain is seen, your loss is recognized, and your feelings are wholly valid, no matter when your loss occurred. I don't have all the answers to soothe the ache you're feeling, but I do have ears to listen, shoulders to lean on, and hands to hold yours through this. I am here to walk alongside you, praying with you, supporting you, and waiting with you for the day when the memory brings more joy than pain. Your baby was loved, is loved, and will always be remembered. And you, dear friend, are loved through every moment of your grief and healing."


By affirming their loss and offering a steadfast presence, we become a living testimony to the love and comfort that our faith promises — a reflection of the God who draws near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


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