Please Don’t Tell Me You Understand

No, no, you do not! And that’s okay.  But, please, let me ask the following of you:

Please do not tell me you understand the heartache of loss, because you have a friend who lost a baby or lost their parent, or lost their sibling. Unless you have been there, you do not have the slightest clue. And those that have been through significant loss, know that no two losses are the same and they cannot be compared. What is the similar and what can be shared is the emotions associated with grief.

Do not tell me you understand the loss of my mom and my sister, because your mom died at the ripe old age of 90. Nope, it’s just not the same as having your mom die when she’s only 43 and you are only 14. You enjoyed 62 years of life with your mom. I enjoyed 14. 90 is not the same as 43 and 14 is not the same as 62!! Do not tell yourself it is. Do not pretend it is. And most importantly, do not tell me it is.

Do not tell me you understand the grief of miscarriage, unless you have had one.

Do not tell me you understand the roller-coaster ride that is recurrent pregnancy loss, unless you have had 3 or more consecutive miscarriages. You do not get it unless you have been there.

Do not tell me you understand fertility issues because your friend went through IVF to have children. Recurrent pregnancy loss is not the same as not being able to get pregnant. Although we may see the same types of doctors, they are most definitely not the same problem. Infertility and RPL have very different medical options and resulting physical experiences.  The possible routes to children may be very different for each one of these terrible infertility issues. Do not pretend they are the same and most definitely don’t pretend you understand IVF or RPL if you have never had either.

Do not tell me you understand adoption. Do not tell me we should just adopt. Unless you have seriously looked into adoption, or have actually adopted a child, do not presume it is inexpensive or quick or an easy process or a simple decision. In fact it can be incredibly expensive, it can take years, and just making the decision to adopt is scary and overwhelming.

Do not tell me you understand the fear of being pregnant, unless you have had serious complications and lost your child. Our fears are not the same as “normal” pregnancy fears, like how to parent, how to raise a happy child, or if we will be good parents. We do not get to have these normal fears, because we are no longer fortunate enough to have a normal pregnancy. Our fears are literally a matter of life and death, every day of pregnancy feels like a game of Russian Roulette, milliseconds away from possible death, waiting to find out if our baby will live another day, or another week.


Please tell me, you cannot imagine my pain.

Tell me that you know this must be difficult for us.

Tell me that if I ever need to talk, you will listen without judgement.

Tell me that if I ever need a shoulder to cry on, you will be here for me.

Tell me it’s okay to take time to make our next decision, and that’s okay.

Tell me that you love us and will support us no matter what our future holds.


But, please, do not tell me that you understand because you don’t.

21 Comments on “Please Don’t Tell Me You Understand

  1. There are no words, more true!…..Sometimes don’t you just want to jump up and down and scream this? Wouldn’t that just feel great!


  2. im sorry for your loss, i have been pregnant 5 times, all of them had complications, i miscarried once and i lost my daughter, i hope this poem brings you some comfort. What makes a mother? I thought of you and closed my eyes and prayed to God today. I asked what makes a mother? And i know i heard him say. A mother has a baby this we know is true. But God can you be a mother when your baby’s not with you? Yes you can, he replied with confidence in his voice. I give many women babies, when they leave is not their choice. Some i send for a lifetime, and others for a day, and some i send to feel your womb but there’s no need to stay. I just dont understand this God i want my baby to be here. He took a deep breath and cleared his throat, and then i saw a tear. I wish i could show you, what your child is doing today. If you could see your child smile with all the other children and say… we go to earth to learn our lessons, of love and life and fear. My mommy loved me oh so much i got to come straight here. I feel so lucky to have a mom, who had so much love for me. I learned my lessons very quickly my mommy set me free. I miss my mommy oh so much, but i visit her every day, and when she goes to sleep, on her pillows where i lay. I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek, and whisper in her ear, mommy dont be sad today im your baby and im near. So you see my dear sweet ones, your children are okay. Your babies are born in my home, and this is where they’ll stay. They’ll wait for you with me, until your lesson’s through. And on the day you come home, they’ll be at the gates for you.
    So now you see what makes a mother, its the feeling in your heart. its the feelings you had so much of right from the very start. Though some on earth may not realize you are a mother, until their time is done. They’ll be up here with me one day and know your the best one!


  3. If going through this journey has taught me anything, its to never utter the words “I understand what you’re going through”. I couldn’t agree more, unless you’ve been through an almost identical experience, no, no you don’t understand.


    • Perfectly said! I actually wrote this after one of our very good friends with a 6 month old baby said “I understand what you are going through” to my husband. My husbands response was a rather blunt “I know you mean well but you have no idea what 4 miscarriages is like”. The whole thing just got me thinking.


  4. Reblogged this on Life, Love and my version of motherhood and commented:
    I read this post over the weekend. I have carried these thoughts with me throughout the day today. It is so very hard sometimes to express ourselves. It is even more trying to feel comfortable enough to do so without the backlash of friends and family. This post echos our grief. Perhaps by sharing more may understand.


  5. Thank you for being so blunt. All the things I want to scream at the world. For four months now I have been biting my tongue with people. I lost my son and hate when people who have never lost tell me they feel my pain. I have now asked them if they wake up every morning being punched in the gut with reality . Sorry for your loss and struggles. In my thoughts.


    • Thank you for your comment and support. If there is one thing I can be good at it is being blunt – sometimes its actually a bit of a curse. 🙂 It means a lot to me to know this peice has spoke to people and might just be helping someone like yourself articulate there own emotions.


  6. oh so true. And a tragic irony of all this, I think, is that the people who haven’t experienced these kinds of losses may never understand that they don’t understand. Know what I mean? It seems to take the experience of tragedy, sometimes, to realize how very different it is from other losses, as valid and significant and hard as those are.


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  9. I’ve had this fight with my SIL…she claims she understands what it’s like to be infertile because she’s had a miscarriage but now has 2 beautiful children. I just told her she has no clue, just like I have no clue what the pain is to have a miscarriage. You are right…they are just the not same thing. You have an amazing way with words!


    • I figure the reason people say they understand is just a result of pure ignorance. I hope most aren’t intentionally being hurtful, and are actually trying to be supportive with comments like these.
      I am so glad that you told your sister that she has no clue. Hopefully she’ll be able to learn and be more supportive to you and others in the future.


  10. Pingback: 12 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Miscarriage | My Perfect Breakdown

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