Sunday, March 20, 2011

A guide to helping your friend/family member/co-worker/complete stranger through personal tragedy

1. Say you're sorry to hear about fill in blank here with the applicable trial, tribulation or loss.
Some common options include:  the death of a family member, the loss of a pregnancy, a bad haircut, your infected hangnail... the options are endless.

2. Have you said you're sorry for whatever?  Good.  Stop! 

Have you personally gone through what the person you're consoling has gone through?
Are you ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN you know all of their situation, what led up to this and if there are any extenuating circumstances?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, DON'T SAY ANYTHING!

If you haven't had a miscarriage I don't want to hear your suggestions of what I did wrong this time.  If you haven't had fertility issues you have no idea what I've been through.  If you haven't suffered a great loss then you can't identify with mine.  So say you're sorry for me, that you wish things were different, that it was a bloomin' shame and then move on to a completely different topic. 

Things folks have said to me in the couple weeks since my miscarriage that made me want to rip their beating heart from their chest and stomp on it:

"I had no problem getting pregnant once I quit my job.  You should stay home and you'll have no problem having children." 
The response I would have given if I thought well on my feet, "I've been trying to have children for four years.  During that time I've worked three different jobs, and I've been unemployed for a while as well.  At this point I need the job to pay for the fertility doctors."

"Don't worry.  You'll be pregnant again in a month and it'll go better next time."
The response I would have given if I didn't work for you, "This is the first time I've shown any signs of being pregnant in four years of trying.  While I certainly hope it won't take another four years, it could easily take months or years for me to get this far again."

"It was just the wrong egg at the wrong time.  There's nothing you can do but try again."
The response I gave, "Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is the definition of insanity."

"It's normal to have a miscarriage when you first get pregnant after having taken birth control pills."
Ok, I'll give you that this is my first pregnancy after going off birth control pills FOUR YEARS AGO!  Sometimes people have a specific medical condition for which birth control pills are the prescribed treatment.  There are lots of reasons to take birth control pills, and taking them does not equate to saying "I never want children."  Also, studies have shown that taking birth control pills does NOT increase your chance of having a miscarriage, even if you get pregnant while still taking them.

"You just need to get into the best shape of your life, and then you won't have any problems at all."
Fuck off!  See this weight?  I'd challenge you got not gain weight when you have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, and under active thyroid, and are taking all the hormones I have to take just to get pregnant.  I eat plenty of vegetables, without an excessive amount of sugar or fat.  I walk often, ride my bike and am generally active.  Would I like to loose 50 lbs? Yes!  But I'm happy enough with the 20 lbs I've lost since I was properly dosed and medicated, and don't need you judging me!

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