When it comes to miscarriage or stillbirth, we tend to lack words

Amanda Wilton  ·  Sep 24, 2018

With approximately a million miscarriages every year, you’d think we would have a word to describe the one who suffers such a painful loss. But we don’t.

“There are words like ‘orphan,’ ‘widow,’ and ‘widower’ in all languages,” writes Neena Verma in her book A Mother’s Cry … A Mother’s Celebration. “But there is no word in any language to describe a parent who loses a child. How does one describe the pain of ‘ultimate bereavement’!”

Not only do we lack a word to describe the mother who miscarries, but words fail us even when we intend to offer her comfort.

In her book Empty Arms: Coping with Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Early Infant Death, Sherokee Ilse writes, “People … will have different reactions, anything from an outburst of emotion, to total silence, or a combination of these. They might say hasty words that you will not find appropriate or helpful. … Try not to take any hurtful reactions personally, and be aware that many people have a hard time dealing with death and do not know what to say or how to help.”

Because of this dilemma, President Ronald Reagan declared October to be Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Please use this month to reach out appropriately to friends and family who have suffered the loss of an infant through miscarriage or stillbirth. For pointers and resources see the article from Sherokee Ilse on page 6. For additional information you can share with those who have experienced miscarriage, visit SamaritanMinistries.org/MourningWithHope to browse a collection of articles and resources from Samaritan staff and members. 

Related stories from this issue:

Babies matter: a look at pregnancy loss

Why SMI? Sherokee Ilse wanted to find pro-life health care

Member Spotlight: Sherokee Ilse of Babies Remembered

Pro-choice concern for miscarriage gives the lie to abortion

Member letters: Samaritan members felt love of others after miscarriages