Tuesday, December 20, 2005

So, Your Friend Just Lost her Child (Infant or Pregnancy loss)

It is a terrible club to belong too. No one wants to be a part of it - especially when they thought they were joining the club of motherhood, sleepless nights, and wet kisses. But some women have become the mothers of 'sleeping babies' forever sleeping, never to waken and give a cry. Never to show their personality or aspirations.

When a baby dies - in the second trimester, near full term, or even to SIDS - people ignore that child's death, mostly because they don't know what to say, don't want to make the mother cry, or not to be depressing. We don't want our children or loss ignored. We are sad, but we don't want to be sad alone, the only ones acknowledging our loss and the interrupted life of our children.

For 5 months I was sick as a dog and wanted to die - I couldn't breathe, I couldn't eat, I couldn't throw up, I couldn't lift or care for my children - but it would only last a few months until we had 4 babies at home in January or February. We hired help and went into debt to do so, but it was all for our twins.

Now I do silly things to make sure they are included in our family. I have purchased Christmas ornaments, included the twins in my Christmas card, made them Christmas stockings, and visited their grave just recently. All so they aren't forgotten. Some women get tattoos, collect figurines, donate to a hospital, or create memorial websites. We all need to grieve and acknowledge our children in our own way.

You can say: I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine your pain. If I can help in any way with your other children, shopping, or making meals I would be happy too. I am your friend and I love you. I will talk to you about your sweet child. S/he will not be forgotten. Please tell me how you would like me to support you.

Do NOT say: Everything happens for a reason. God needed her more. You are young and will have more children. Don't worry you can have more. You will be fine in a month (these women will never be 'fine' again). It really isn't that bad. At least you didn't bring her home.

We all have silly wishes too. Quite frankly I wish that my boys had died of SIDS or lived a few hours. But they didn't and that makes me sad. I wish I had just a few moments with them alive.

No one understands what this kind of pain is like, not even someone who has lost a spouse or an adult child. It is important to choose what kind of friend you want to be. This is a life changing experience, not a bump in the road. A woman *will* cut friends out of their life who are not supportive of their grief, will not let them talk about their child, or expect them to move on too quickly. I changed hairdressers after she told me her troubles with her boyfriend are just like me delivering my sons still. I have given the advice to women - to protect themselves and it "sounds like she isn't really your friend, stop talking to her."

So decide what kind of friend you want to be. Understand that this hurt and pain will be there forever. It will take a lot of time to feel better and even think about getting pregnant again. The antepartum appointments to find out 'what went wrong' will be scary when you are trying to decide if/when to get pregnant again. Some of these women will not be able to have other children. When your friend does get pregnant again do not forget about her sleeping baby, do not get too excited, but don't be depressing either - I know its a fine line. Mostly be supportive - just because she is pregnant she will not be 'moving on'. She is just dealing with her grief in addition to the pregnancy symptoms and the fear that she won't be able to 'keep' this baby either.

A good friend is invaluable in the days/weeks/years following the loss of your child. I know I still call my best friend to cry about my sons. Please remember your friends due date or the anniversary of her babies death. Send a card, remember her children. Don't let her feel alone.

This is a terrible tragedy that doesn't get enough media or community attention. It is scary! Pregnant ladies and mothers don't like to think that something can happen to their children. So we are left to grieve alone, silently suffering, being afraid for our friends when they mention scary symptoms, not wanting to scare them. Don't let your friend be alone anymore.


  1. Becky (parents.com)March 21, 2006 at 6:30 AM

    Thanks so much for sharing this with me.

  2. Thanks I really needed that. My friend just lost her daughter a week ago & I am really at a loss as to how I can help her.
    I'm glad you've written this