Last year, my friend and her husband lost their baby a little over midway through their pregnancy. It was life altering. It was heartbreaking. Their experience was horrible. I will never forget her calling me barely able to enunciate a syllable. Through her cries I was able to make out that her baby no longer had a heartbeat. My heart broke.
She went in for a routine appointment, which she told her husband not to take off work to attend. Things had been going well. There was not a concern at that time. She went through her regular appointment routine and was sent to ultrasound. She was very nonchalantly told that her baby was no longer viable.
She was alone.
They didn’t give her a chance to call anyone. They gave her this news and sent her on her way. She was sent her on her way after they told her that her baby was no longer alive with instructions to go to the hospital where she would have to deliver her deceased baby.
She was alone.
A piece of my friend died that day. I can’t pretend to know what this felt like for them. I know how much it hurt me, so their pain compared to mine is immeasurable. She has been my friend since elementary school. This was one of very few times in our relationship that I did not know what to say. How do you offer comfort at such a hard time?
My answer is simple. Just be there. Be there to talk. Be there to laugh. Be there to cry. Be there to be silent. Be there for hugs. Be there to catch tears.
Just be there.
If you can’t physically be there, offer your ear. Offer your texts. Offer your direct messages. Offer your love. Offer your support. This will be appreciated more than words can ever show.
I can’t say I wanted to make sure my friends were “OK,” because they were not. I wanted to make sure my friends had all they needed and things they didn’t know they needed.
I went to the hospital with them. I packed a big bag of snacks. I brought mindless magazines. I made food runs. I sat with them even when they told me to go home.
We cried. We laughed. We prayed. I let them know that I loved them and that I would always be there to offer my love and my support.
Sadly, going through this showed how incredibly insensitive people can be without even thinking about it. It is never OK to say “you can have another baby,” especially when a mother would trade her life so that her baby could live. Do not tell them that time heals all wounds because that is not true. If you don’t know what to say, say nothing, or say “I’m sorry this happened to you.”
It has been over a year. This still affects us. It was not my baby, but this is my family. When they hurt, I hurt. We still talk about her, we still remember her. We still love her.
If I have any advice to offer, I’ll say remember to be kind. Kindness is free. Grieving does not end. It may get easier, but those who have lost children will never forget their pain.
Don’t let your friends blame themselves for the loss – they will. Sometimes there won’t be an answer to why. Be the best friend and person you can be. Your friends’ loss will be your loss too.
Encourage them to talk to grief counselors or a therapist that can help them cope. Tell them about the resources available during pregnancy and infant loss awareness month this October… and beyond.
I can say with certainty that your friends will appreciate all of this, and love you all the more.