Talking to Your Kids About Miscarriage and Stillbirth
How do you talk to your kid about the sibling that they could have had with them? Here’s how to handle this uncomfortable, yet necessary conversation.
Opening up about your miscarriage or stillbirth is not a comfortable conversation for anyone to have, especially with your children. But, as tough as it is, talking to your other little ones about what happened is necessary. The beginning of how to explain a miscarriage to a child is to be honest.
How to explain a miscarriage to a child: the hard truths
You may wonder if your pregnancy loss is something your other kids even need to know about in the first place, or if they’re old enough to understand what happened. However, according to experts, you should not withhold this information.
Raphael O. Inocencio, RPsy, Managing Director and Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Better Steps Psychology, Inc, says, “Loss is always a difficult thing to talk to children about. But I always emphasize that parents need to be honest and truthful with what they tell their children. Sometimes we can underestimate how much they understand.”
He further suggests the following steps when considering how to explain a miscarriage to a child:
- Be truthful.
- Prepare for a variety of emotional reactions.
- Give in doses, as much as your child can handle. Take the cues from them.
- Allow sadness.
- Allow conversations and follow up questions, as often and as much as they need them.
- Make sure you’re okay yourself.
When talking to children, it’s best to talk to them in a way that they will understand, depending on their age. It’s not necessary to go into great detail or use medical terms. Something as simple as “There was a baby inside my tummy before, and the baby didn’t come out the way you did. The baby isn’t with us now” works for younger children.
For older children, you can choose to explain further and give them more terms or details, provided that you’re ready for their follow up questions and to explain more about it.
All children react differently
The usual reaction of your child would be sadness over not having a sibling or an additional sibling, but don’t be disappointed either if they shrug the news off, or don’t seem to be affected by it. Remember that we all react differently towards situations, and there isn’t a wrong or right way to feel. If they’re acting indifferent , it’s probably because they don’t feel a strong connection over their lost sibling, since they never got to meet them or be with them the way that you did.
If by some chance you sense a feeling of guilt in your child, remind him/her that your angel baby is now in a safe place but that your child is in no way responsible for the loss—no one is, it was simply something sad that happened.
Navigating this tricky conversation with your children takes mindfulness and care, but when you’re guided by motherly love and instinct, you can’t go wrong. Lead with the intention that you’re talking about it with your child so that he or she understands that family can be made up of both those who are present physically, and spiritually. Wherever they may be, they are all still part of the family.