How to Tell Your Coworkers About Your Miscarriage

Updated

Miscarriage is, unfortunately, a potential outcome of pregnancy that often comes without warning. If you’re one of the nearly 26% of pregnancies that has led to a miscarriage – we’re so sorry that you’re dealing with this. 

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Although they’re somewhat common, miscarriage and pregnancy loss aren’t talked about much and are often swept under the rug, especially in spaces like the workplace. Coping with a miscarriage can make everyday tasks like running errands, socializing, and going to work feel overwhelming.

Although you want to give yourself time to heal, life does go on. Even amid heartbreak, you have to figure out how to carry on with your life and deal with responsibilities. 

Outside of bringing yourself to get your work done, you may also be faced with the question of whether or not, or how to tell coworkers about miscarriage. We’re here to offer some guidance.

Should You Tell Your Coworkers About a Miscarriage?

Miscarriage, like any sort of loss or big life event, is different for everyone. Everyone processes grief differently and needs different things from their environment. Including the workplace.

There’s no right answer about whether or not you should tell your coworkers about your miscarriage. That depends on you, your situation, and your comfort level. That being said, there are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to tell your coworkers about your miscarriage. 

  • Do you work in a supportive, emotionally safe environment?
  • Are there physical requirements of your job that you may not be able to do which would necessitate you to tell your coworkers?
  • Did you start showing or already tell your coworkers about your pregnancy?
  • Do you feel like your emotions or mental health might compromise your work to the point where you would need to tell coworkers?
  • Did you take time off that you need to explain to your coworkers?
  • Do you feel like it would make your process easier or more difficult to tell your coworkers?

These are just a few of the things you should consider when deciding whether or not to tell them. To help guide you further, we’ve come up with some tangible action steps you can take if you decide.

Steps for Telling Your Coworkers About a Miscarriage

It’s no surp;rise that returning to work after a miscarriage can be daunting and may feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to freefall into it. There are ways you can help make this process easier on you, especially when it comes to telling your coworkers about the miscarriage. 

1. Take your time

If you’re able to, it might help to wait to tell your coworkers about your miscarriage until you’ve healed from it a bit. Then you’re able to adjust to being back at work before getting bombarded with sympathy and questions—as well-meaning as they may be.

If you took time off from work you might need to come up with another excuse for a bit until you feel ready to tell them. You might not always have the option to take your time, but even a day or two can make a difference and help give you a little bit more of an emotional buffer. 

2. Use discretion

If not all of your coworkers knew that you were pregnant, then you don’t necessarily have to tell everyone that you had a miscarriage. It might make sense to you to only tell one or two coworkers about what you’re going through. 

You get to decide what you want to explain to people if anything at all. Discretion in this instance means that you might operate differently depending on what coworkers you’re interacting with. It also means knowing your work environment. Some company cultures may be more understanding about things like pregnancy loss than others. It’s up to you to decide how to handle this in each nuanced coworking dynamic you have.

3. Set boundaries

You decide that it’s the right thing to do to tell your coworkers about your miscarriage. You might offer a brief explanation or even tell them your whole story, but no matter what you say, it’s important to set clear boundaries. 

Boundaries mean something different to everyone, and going off the previous point of using discretion—your boundaries might be different depending on the coworker. What are some ways/things you can say to help you set boundaries?

  • “I appreciate your sympathy, but I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
  • “I need some space right now, thank you for respecting that.”
  • “I don’t feel comfortable discussing this further at the moment, thanks for respecting my boundaries.”
  • “I need time before I’m ready to talk about it. I’ll let you know when I’m ready.”
  • “I’d rather not go into detail about my personal life.”

Also, know that it’s ok if your boundaries change. Even if you left the discussion open previously, you may decide you no longer want to talk about it. Don’t be afraid to politely tell your coworkers that you no longer want to talk about your miscarriage. 

No one is entitled to your space, your body, or an explanation. So do what you need to do to protect your emotional space.

4. Create a support system

If you have coworkers that you trust and feel comfortable with, you may want to create a support system at work, even if it’s just one person. This can be a gamechanger when it comes to figuring out how to go back to work amid heartbreak. 

Having a support system gives you someone to turn to if you’re feeling overwhelmed or get caught up in a wave of emotions. Someone that you don’t have to explain yourself to who can make excuses for you if you need to walk away for a minute to get some fresh air or have a good cry. 

If you don’t have a coworker who is a good support person, then try to have another person in your life whether that’s a friend, family member, or partner who can be that for you. Someone that you’re able to call during the workday to process what’s going on or just be there for you for a minute before you go back to work. 

5. Take time off

Although this isn’t an option for everyone, taking time off can make it much easier to tell your coworkers about your miscarriage when you do go back to work. Some states and companies offer a leave of absence for people who experience loss.

You may want to see if your work offers bereavement leave for a miscarriage, this can give you time to heal and grieve without having to deal with work (and coworkers). Another option is to work from home for a bit if that’s possible with your job. Although you may still need to interact with coworkers, it’s easier to bypass small talk and gloss over what’s going on.

6. It’s okay to stretch the truth (or lie)

Miscarriage and loss are very real parts of life that everyone goes through in one way or another. It’s important to talk about and normalize these kinds of conversations. Of course, you may not feel up to doing that when you’re in the middle of processing a miscarriage. 

If you took time off or are just not yourself, then you may need to tell your coworkers something. But you don’t need to tell them everything. 

It’s important to be honest about what you’re going through if that’s what feels right for you and would make your life easier. That being said, in this case, it’s also okay to stretch the truth or tell a little white lie. 

What are some ways you can stretch the truth to protect yourself?

  • Say that you’re going through something personal that you don’t wish to discuss.
  • Say that you’re dealing with some health issues and don’t feel like going into further detail. 
  • Tell your coworkers that you’re fine. They might not believe you, but sometimes that’s what you need to do to get them off your back for a bit. 

You’re not a bad person for not telling the truth or the whole truth, you’re human. A human who is going through a difficult time and needs to take steps to protect yourself emotionally while you heal. 

7. Pick a mode of communication 

If you do decide to tell your coworkers about your miscarriage, you get to decide how you do it. The mode of communication you use depends on the nature of your workplace. Do you work in an office? A remote job? Do you have more of a coworking space or do you have your own private office? Do you work in a restaurant or somewhere where you might not see all your coworkers all the time?

These are all things to take into consideration when deciding how to tell your coworkers. Pick the way that feels the least stressful for you, and most supportive of what you’re going through.

Here are some ways you can tell your coworkers about your miscarriage:

  • Send an email. This might be company-wide or just to a select few people or coworkers. 
  • Tell coworkers through conversation.
  • Discuss it during a meeting, if this makes sense for your workplace. 
  • Set an away message on your email or organizational system that says what you’re going through and that you need space, or that you’re taking time off right now. 
  • Go through your human resources department. It’s HR’s role to help you navigate situations like this and make being in the workplace more manageable during a hard time.

This is Your Journey

Navigating your career and dealing with coworkers after a miscarriage may just feel like an added layer of stress during a hard time. While some of this may be unavoidable, we encourage you to use these tips to help you feel a bit more at ease while figuring out when and how to tell your coworkers. 

Some people may feel better telling their coworkers everything that’s going on, while others need more space and privacy. You know yourself and your needs best. 

Remember that this is your body and your life. You don’t owe anyone an explanation or conversation about what you’re going through. Honor your needs and your timeline, and be firm about your boundaries. You can do this!


Source:
  1. Dugas, Carla, and Valori H Slane. “Miscarriage.” Stat Pearls Publishing, 29 January 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532992.

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