Thursday, June 21, 2007

When there are no words....

A very dear friend of mine got some bad news about her pregnancy yesterday and I have no words to comfort her. I know that she is tough and that she can hold it together if she needs too but I know that she is also hurting and I wish that I could help to share the weight.

I know that many of you have experienced great sorrow in your lives and that often it has resulted in a terrible loss so I'm asking for some guidance. So, what if anything have you found helpful? Who has given you the support when you needed it most and what has only served to make things worse?

I don't know what the exact problem is but I do know that the prognosis is bad and final. She's 18 weeks along now and has to face the end is around the corner.


Spare a thought for my dear friend she could use all the internet wishes that you can send.



Suz said...

I'll definately be thinking of her. That's so hard.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Hi Amy, got your comment over at mine, was going to email you but can't find an email address. I have conducted funerals for pre-term babies (I blogged about one a couple of years ago, in three posts here, here and here if you're interested). It can seem that there are no memories to share because the baby died before, or as, it was born. But I find that focusing on what the baby gave to the couple and their families; how it changed their lives and their relationships; can be helpful, and can provide a surprisingly large amount of material. I would also emphasise that the baby knew only warmth and comfort in its short life. I said something in 'Lottie's funeral about how we value the beauty of real flowers much more highly than plastic ones, although - or perhaps because - their lives are short and fleeting. That seemed to go down well. Also that the baby will always be part of their family, never forgotten, because we are so culturally configured to sweep these things under the carpet, do the stiff upper lip thing and deal in cliches if at all that I think it's important to say this and to stress that their grieving process may be a long one (sometimes I feel I'm giving permission here, which is always slightly peculiar but, hey, if it helps I'm OK with that) and that they shouldn't take on other people's expectations that another baby will make everything all right. In this context it may be helpful for you to read the posts about miscarriage on Clare Sudbery's blog at Boob Pencil if you haven't already done so (it's on my sidebar - go back to just before Easter for the full story) - as with 'Lottie', the circumstances are different than for your friend, but Clare has written/is writing about her grieving process very honestly and fully, so you may find some useful pointers there. Your friend may well find a humanist funeral helpful, and I'm sure any of my colleagues would be happy to conduct one for her (and we don't charge for babies/children, and neither do funeral directors on the whole; they may make a small charge simply to cover out-of-pocket expenses such as petrol or a coffin at cost price). She can find her nearest celebrant at by choosing 'funeral' from the drop-down list and putting in her postcode. Alternatively, any funeral director should have a list of local celebrants. (BTW she doesn't have to use an FD if she doesn't want to, her local authority cemetery/crematorium should also be able to help.) I won't be at my computer much over the next three days, but if you have further questions do please drop me an email, or as many emails as you like; I'm happy to help in any way I can, and I'll try to check my hotmail a couple of times a day. And please tell your friend from me that grief doesn't have a sell-by date and that it's fine to grieve in any way she needs to for as long as she needs to, and if anyone tells her different (particularly anyone who says anything like 'pull yourself together' or 'don't worry, dear, you can have another one' or 'you should be over that by now' or, well, you get the idea) she shouldn't pay them any attention whatsoever.

Christopher said...

I'm sure that supporting her as you are already is better than you think, my darlin'

Char said...

Sadly, I know what your friend is facing, from personal experience. What worked for me was not the phonecalls or visits (I needed time alone)... what worked for me was lots of sms's saying things like:-
- I'm so sad things turned out like they did
- I'm sorry you're hurting
- Is there anything I can do to help you?
- Take your time to heal
- I love you

The worst worst worst things you can say are these:-
- maybe it's better this way (what? better a dead baby than a beautiful living breating one?)
- maybe something was wrong with the baby? (duh!)
- there'll be a next time (how do you know that, for sure? - and what if it turns out the same way?)
- maybe you aren't meant to be a mom (but the preggy teenaged druggie is?)
- don't worry about it
- just move on
- you'll get over it soon
- try to keep yourself busy

I am SO sorry for your friend. Someone who hasn't been there can never understand. The best thing you can do is simply be there for her. Which, from the sounds of things, you already are! Big thumbs up for you!

Kelly W. said...

Hey Amy, I'm a bit late responding to this. I've experienced 2 losses and one was especially difficult as it was discovered at 13 weeks during an ultrasound when the heartbeat couldn't be heard. There was a picture of a little baby, with no heartbeat. It was sadness like I have never felt.

The worst things I heard from people were "You're young. You can try again." and "At least you found out now and not later in the pregnancy." The most helpful things I heard were "I love you." "I'm so sorry you lost your baby." Validating her loss (which you have done so well) is most important. Don't forget, it will take her a long time to recover too. :( Kelly