Friendships + Loss
Friendships + Loss
Some friends stay and some friends go ….
After loss our lives change in so many different ways and if you have experienced loss, I don’t have to tell you that or remind you.
The one thing I didn’t expect to change was my friendships.
Don’t get me wrong, grief is hard to navigate and because as a society we have learned to associate grief with pain rather than with love, being around grief is challenging for all of us.
We don’t talk about grief as much as we talk about love but we should and I think this is why some friends DO NOT know what to say.
I believe, that the most supportive friends are those who recognise your loss.
The funny thing is that friends try to understand and empathise but honestly no one can understand unless it’s happened to them and if so there isn’t any understanding because everyone’s journey and loss is so personal.
I hope that made sense ….
Some friends will do their very best to comfort and to hold space where others will ‘ghost’ and never speak to you again.
Why? I don’t know …
Maybe it’s because they themselves find it too painful, maybe they have been through something similar and have not found peace or healed from it.
Grief gives the ‘gift’ of discovering the true meaning of friendship In my experience, the supportive friends are the ones who are willing to say something and if they fuck up - they are the first to admit it.
It’s like a filter …. some friends will stick it out with you and others are not able to understand nor align themselves with your sadness because of their own discomfort. This gave me a lot of space to forgive and to understand.
When I felt the darkness and alone, I remember reaching out to instagram friends, friends from support groups and friends from friends who have experienced TMR and STILLBIRTH.
IN COMMUNITY WE HEAL
It’s TRUE what they say about community. Our human spirit needs community to heal, to feel and to be SEEN and WITNESSED.
HERE ARE A FEW THINGS THAT I LEARNED
ABOUT FRIENDSHIP AND LOSS ….
Some friends stay and others turn away. When we had to terminate our twins at 22 weeks, several friends turned away. I remember, the first month was overwhelming with everyone asking if you need help and then their lives move on and people forget. This for me was the hardest part because of course we don’t forget.
It is normal to feel disappointed by your friends who have turned away. I use to tell myself to have compassion and to try and understand, however I was pissed off that some friends never reached out nor acknowledged what happened to us. I didn’t have the bandwidth to please people or include those who would trigger or hurt me all the time. We can choose who we spend time with and who we feel will support us.
Some friends will talk about your baby and others will JUST focus on your surviving baby only. Now that we have M, a lot of my family and friends focus on him and okay I get it but can you talk about Loey as well?! You can celebrate a surviving baby and still mourn and honor a dead baby. I also find that there is this pressure to feel thankful and appreciative of your rainbow/surviving baby. Friends, this is too much pressure and life isn’t like that after loss. We still love our babies that aren’t here and that is why we cry and laugh at the same time because we have to hold space for both. We can feel sadness and loss while we are celebrating the baby in our arms.
Oh boy! Some of the things friends say! Okay, it’s no one’s fault but society as a whole needs a lot of work. We are told to be positive and to boost everyone’s spirit and that pain is not to be felt - yuck! All bullshit! We don’t have to look at the bright side all the time. It’s okay to feel the ‘shadow’ feelings because that is what makes us human - a human living a FULL experience. When people came to me with their platitudes, I wanted to either run away, punch them or laugh. I know, extreme but true. However, this is where mindfulness is HUGE. I learned to be a compassionated observer.
My go to is ANGER and so I can feel that emotion start to rise and because of the work I have done I am able to move to a place of observation.
Here are a few I have heard:
Everything happens for a reason
You are still young to try again
You have the money to do IVF
Since you know what happened, you can fix it
Be thankful that you can get pregnant
Your baby is an angel
This is nature’s way of …. [ I honestly can’t even finish this sentence ]
It’s all for the best
It’s God’s way
Holy shit! What do you do when someone says these things to you!!!!
At first, I didn’t have the energy to say anything and that’s okay because you have to keep your energy for yourself.
Let’s start by saying that no one is uncaring but it’s natural for us to get upset and pissed off, however we can fall into the whelm of misunderstanding. This is where I coach my community to self advocate and up-level the self preservation!
Here are a few ideas:
Think about who you would like to keep as your TRUE friends
When you have your list, think of ways that you can share your emotions with them and at the same time guide them in supporting you. For instance, telling them that you cherish their friendship however what you need is someone to listen rather than tell you advice.
Tell your friends that it’s okay to ask questions
Tell your friends exactly what you need so they don’t have to guess
Ask them to say your baby’s name [ loved one’s name ]
Tell them that you would rather they share with you their thoughts whatever it might be, instead of ignoring or withdrawing from you.
I ALSO KNOW THAT I CAN CHOOSE WHO I WANT TO ‘EDUCATE’ / ‘SELF ADVOCATE’.
SOME PEOPLE I HOLD CLOSE AND WILL HAVE A DISCUSSION AND OTHERS I NEED TO CONSERVE MY energy.
IT’S A PERSONAL CHOICE.
Sometimes we don’t get ALL WE NEED from friends and family and that’s okay - it’s totally normal.
I found support on line. I would spend hours on Facebook and instagram. I also attended various support groups in my city and have made life long friends.
We can’t put all our expectations, trust and wants onto one person.
This isn’t fair especially when we are grieving.
I invite you think about your close friends + community and find a circle of friends that will support you in various ways … just not one person.
I think at the end of my experience with friendship and loss, I learned
awareness and compassion is important
Yes friends only want to do their best to support and yes we can advocate for what we need.
I would love to hear about how you have navigated your friendships and what you have learned after loss.
Please comment below
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