Talking to children about miscarriage

The loss of a baby can affect everyone, including any living children you already have.  


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Telling children, or not

How children understand loss

Talking about miscarriage with children


Telling children, or not

If you have children, you will need to decide whether to tell them what has happened. If they are very young, or didn’t know you were pregnant, you may feel that you do not need to tell them anything. If they knew you were pregnant, you will have to tell them something.  

Most children will notice when the adults around them are upset. This can worry them. They may show this by being irritable, angry or quiet. They may demand more of your attention and need comforting.  Children are often much more worried when they sense something is wrong but don’t know what. They may fill in the gaps in their imagination with something even more worrying or scary to them.

You may choose to reassure them by explaining what has happened in a way they can understand.

What you say and how you say it will depend on your situation and your child’s age, awareness and emotional intelligence.

“I was worried about constantly crying in front of my daughter. I was afraid for her to see me sad.” 


How children understand loss


From the age of 5, children can usually understand what it means when someone dies, although they may not understand the permanence of death.

Younger children are the centre of their own world. They might feel as if their thoughts and hopes can make things happen (‘magical thinking’). This means they may worry they did or thought something that caused the baby to die.  

Older children may worry about showing their feelings in case they upset you. They will need reassurance that it is ok to be sad together.

You can help your child feel comforted and included by involving them when you’re remembering your baby.  


Talking about miscarriage with children


What you tell your children depends on their age but also on past experiences of death and any religious beliefs. Keep it simple and be as honest as you can. If they want more details, they will ask. It’s important to explain that what’s happened is nobody’s fault.

You may need to have the same conversation more than once. Children make sense of things by talking about them.

Children will often think things through and ask questions many weeks later, often in seemingly random situations, such as during dinner or in a shop. Answer them honestly and openly. Do not be afraid to show your emotions, tell them you are sad and let them cry too.

If your child goes to school or childcare, you might choose to let them know what has happened and what you have told your child.  

As a child gets older and their understanding develops, they may have further questions.

You may find phrases like this helpful.

‘There was a baby inside me, but it died because there was something wrong and it couldn't grow properly’.

‘When someone dies, it means their body stops working totally. We won’t see the baby again, but we will remember them together.’

‘After the baby died, the doctor had to help the baby come out of me. I had to go to hospital to do this. It hurt and made me sad, but I am a lot better now.’

‘I’m sad that our baby couldn’t grow and sometimes I cry about it. But giving you a cuddle makes me happy. I love you very much.’

‘Sometimes children think it is their fault that the baby died. This is wrong. It wasn’t anyone's fault that the baby died. Not my fault and not your fault.’

‘Sometimes growing the baby made me feel very sick, and I couldn’t play with you. I know you didn't like that. But not liking the baby inside me didn’t make it die’.

‘The baby would have been your brother or sister, but there was something wrong so they couldn’t grow properly’.


Every child is different and there is no magic formula to ease their grief. However, Child Bereavement UK suggests that the following can help:

  • clear, honest and age-appropriate information
  • reassurance that they are not to blame and that different feelings are okay
  • keeping to normal routines
  • a clear demonstration that important adults are there for them
  • time to talk about what has happened, ask questions and build memories
  • being listened to and given time to grieve in their own way.


Child Bereavement UK - (accessed December 2023)

Review dates
Reviewed: 28 February 2024
Next review: 28 February 2027