Dear Annie

Miscarriage etiquette

Dear Annie: My sister had a miscarriage this week, and I’m at a bit of a loss. I want to support her but fear that I am putting too much of a focus on it. I’m not sure whether I’m expecting a certain type of response unfairly from her — sadness, anger, frustration — but she seems to just want to move on. With the rest of our family, there’s a feeling of hopelessness all around, as we’re not sure how to be there for her and her husband. I was going to send them flowers and a sympathy card, but my other sister thought it could be too much of a reminder. I think a lot of the uncertainty of what to do stems from the topic of miscarriages being a bit taboo. However, I know they are more common than many think. I’ve known a few people who have experienced miscarriages, but it’s not always talked about openly. I’m not sure why they are viewed as shameful or a secret or something to hide. Annie, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

— Unsure in Ithaca

Dear Unsure: I am so sorry for your sister’s loss. Tell her one time how very sorry you are for her loss and that you love her very much. Say it only once, and say it kindly and compassionately. Sending flowers would be a thoughtful gesture, and I would encourage you to do so if you are so inclined.

Sadly, you are correct that miscarriages are common, occurring in roughly 15 out of every 100 pregnancies, and that it’s not something people talk about often. I think that silence is connected to a long-held (and erroneous) societal belief that a woman is somehow to blame for losing a pregnancy.

But miscarriages shouldn’t be taboo at all. I, for one, would love to see a world where there is more support for women from women who have had miscarriages. We need to shore them up and recognize that their bodies were actually working perfectly.

Dear Annie: I have a boyfriend, whom I love dearly. But one thing he does makes me crazy. He’s always commenting on other girls’ beauty. We will be watching TV, and he’ll say, “She is beautiful and has a nice voice” or “She is really pretty but can’t act.” He tells me I’m beautiful, but I wouldn’t say the same things in his presence about men I see. I did that once so that he could see how it feels, but he keeps on doing it. I know guys talk this way to one another, and that’s fine. But I don’t know why he has to always say this to me.

— A Secure Woman Feeling Uncomfortable

Dear Secure Woman Feeling Uncomfortable: You could ask him to stop sharing these thoughts, but it wouldn’t stop him from having them. And I have a feeling that would start to nag at you, too, because you’d always wonder, “What’s he thinking about her?”

The comments may annoy you less if you look at them as a sign of how open he feels with you. Not only does he think you’re gorgeous (and he tells you so); he also feels close enough to talk to you as a friend. Embrace that and you’ll feel even more secure.

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