Friend wallowing. How to help? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 24 Old 05-07-2003, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok- Long story. My friend who is a little crunchier than me (ok, way too many nuts in her granola if you get my drift) got pregnant the month I delivered Goo.
She was small through out her pregnancy, but the midwife wasn't concerned until 32 weeks. At that point, they were concerned about her size, and did an u/s. He was at the size of a 25 week old. Did a level II u/s, Many deformaties. Did Amnio and confirmed trisomy 18 (3 copies of chromosome 18). At 38 weeks, he died in utero. I was there after she delivered him, took photos and hugs and sang, etc. She's had a naming service (beautiful with beads and such) and a memorial service.

However, she is holding on to her grief. She get irrational that her husband is ready to move on. He still grieves, but he doesn't dwell. Now a close friend of hers just had HER baby. Yes, they were planning to raise them together. Yes, this is painful, but now she isn't even calling the new mom. I can see a rift forming where it doesn't have to be.

Sigh...

Any suggestions on how I can help? I've talked to her about calling the other friend to prevent the friendship from ending. She sees a counseler, but the person she sees doesn't make her work at her emotions. She just validates them KWIM?

Thanks for reading this far. I've lost my first pregnancy. I understand that pain, I've lost many people, but I have not lost a child so close to life. In some ways, I feel she is trying hard to not let go....
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#2 of 24 Old 05-07-2003, 08:04 PM
 
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I think everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace. I think you should be supportive and not trying to "snap her out of it".....

In her situation, I wouldn't be worried about working on "keeping friendships". If the friend with a new baby can't understand that it would be very painful to be around her....well, surely she understands that!

This mother deserves as much time as she needs to grieve. She doesn't need people pushing her to deal with her emotions. Why *shouldn't* your friends emotions be validated? I mean, of course they're valid!

My dd was a preemie (that doesn't compare to the loss of a child, I know, but we went through terrible times with her) and I still grieve and it was a good long time before I felt like hanging out with my crunchy, homebirthing, natural buddies because it was SO painful to compare our experiences. None of them held it against me and were waiting with open arms when I felt like I was ready to be with them again.

Sorry if this is a bit blunt, but if anyone had said the things to me that you said about your friend when I was struggling with my feelings of loss, I wouldn't have considered them a friend....
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#3 of 24 Old 05-08-2003, 12:13 AM
 
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Wow, I cannot even imagine the pain this woman must be feeling. She must have been, and must still be, in agony. I don't know how I would ever get over a loss like that.

I think the best thing you can do for her is be her friend without judging her or setting any time limits on when she should be "moving on," especially vis-a-vis her husband or other people. Be there for her without worrying about her other friendships, and try to listen to her without imposing your own ideas on her. She has to heal in her own way, on her own timetable, and there is no "right" way for her to do that.

I think it's great that you're concerned for her, but I really think you need to let go of your judgments about her.

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#4 of 24 Old 05-08-2003, 01:05 AM
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I've had 4 losses. Luckily, all except one were by the end of the 1st trimester and the other was shortly into the 2nd trimester but had died a few weeks earlier so there wasn't much physical pain. However, emotionally I was really depressed. I am thankful that if it had to happen, it happened early and that they were MC and not still births. If I had a still birth, I'm sure that I would be out of it for quite some time and it would take a lot of effort for me to come back.

Loss of a baby is different than the loss of a family member. Folks often tend to try to help the grieving person get over the loss more quickly than if it were an adult or a healthy child. Unfortunately, what many folks don't understand is that when we loose a baby in childbirth or even MC it's not just the baby that is lost, it's all our hopes and dreams that were for the baby. When we lose an unborn baby, we are left with nothing. We don't have any memory of the child to cherish, no special moments, no lock of hair. Only our dreams of what the child might have been. It's a complex type of grief. A grief that is hard to find resolution to because there was nothing tangible that was lost, yet there is still such a hole. And to add to it, a stillbirth is like running a race and passing out 2 inches from the finish line. All the effort, and instead of reward you have tragedy. But even that analogy seems to trivialize it somehow.

All I can say is give her all the support you can. Her friendships that are stressed will mend themselves. A true friend should find any distance easy to forgive. Right after my first MC a friend of my became pg with her first baby and it was very painful to talk to her. Almost like a slap every time I saw her. It eased up with time, and we’re still great friends.

If this was her first birth, you can probably expect the grieving to take quite some time. She may doubt her ability to have children, she may be wondering if she's keeping her husband from being able to have children. Just let her take as long as she needs. She might not get over this loss until she is happily nursing her next child and then there will probably always be a little something missing about her.

Best of luck to you and to your friend.
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#5 of 24 Old 05-08-2003, 03:19 AM
 
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I completely agree with the other posters.

I feel that it would be far better to support her and her feelings rather than expect her to be able to just bounce back and be fine.

Her feelings are very valid indeed. Often, it is extremely painful for mothers who have lost their children to lack friends and family members who expect them to move on quicker than they are ready to.

Grief is a complex process and everyone must go through it in their own way.

I think it would be far more helpful to plan a couple outings with her without the new mom. It is obviously still very painful for her. She just still needs some time.

Perhaps you could have her take a look at the Pregnancy and Birth Loss forum. Other bulliten boards like babynet.com also have loss boards it might be helpful for her to talk with others.

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#6 of 24 Old 05-08-2003, 08:40 AM
 
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I'm not trying to beat up on you, but re-reading your original post when reading the other replies, and doing some rough math, it appears that her loss is really recent, like only a couple of months ago. And she had to go through so much before her baby died, and live with him alive inside her for six weeks with the terrible knowledge that he would die, and that this was the only time she would ever have with him, and that there was nothing she could do to save him. I'm sitting here crying even trying to imagine how I would feel in that situation. I just don't see how a couple of months would be enough time even to begin to cope with the magnitude of that loss.

ITA with abimommy, I think it would be great if you could let her know about the Pregnancy and Loss Board.

Please be gentle with her, and be there for her no matter how long it takes her to grieve the loss of her child.

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#7 of 24 Old 05-08-2003, 08:56 AM
 
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Whew. I am so glad to see the responses to the original post. As a mama who miscarried in March, I have really struggled with how much grief is "appropriate" and whether my community can handle me "still" grieving two months later - when I know that there is a conversation out there about "wallowing" and having your grief "handled" instead of "validated."

I read the original post and was shocked and upset, thinking "yes, I *am* "getting it wrong" - I am "wallowing" and "looking for validation" instead of "moving on" like I should"...

I talked to my best friend about my concerns and she was very, very supportive and gentle, and expressed her concern that I haven't really grieved - that I have avoided grieving because I don't want to impose on the people around me.

No one can know what anyone else is going through, really. And not to compare situations, but I miscarried at 10 weeks and I have a beautiful baby girl (toddler girl, actually). I can't imagine what it would be like to be in the circumstances of the woman described in the original post - how much deeper the pain would cut and how "wrong" life might feel for a long, long, long time.

Yes. So that's my perspective.
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#8 of 24 Old 05-08-2003, 10:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your responses.

I think the difference that I see is that I don't deny her greiving. Really, I don't. I have lost a pregnancy myself and I understand you just don't bounce back. To loose a child so close to your dreams in even worse.

But this is different. I have another friend who is a widow. She is still greiving after 3 years and this is ok. However, she is going on living at the same time. My friend who lost her child is REALLY at the point of not functioning. Maybe I didn't explain this well. She barely gets out even though she started working again. She has trouble with other babies (but not mine for some reason?) to the point she will avoid going places in case a baby is there.

I also probably used bad wording in discussing the person she sees. I just tried to explain it in words, but I can't. Her counsoler has been an issue in the past and many of her friends feels it hurts her more than it helps her.

I didn't mean that greif is invalid. REALLY I DIDN'T.
I don't want people think I want her to "get over" this. However, she needs to move somewhere other than her pit of dispair because she is getting worse and worse as the days go by. This is going from grief to something far worse.

Yes- this happened in early March. It is recent. I want to repeat, I am not trying to "snap her out of it", but I see this as getting very determental to her mental health right now. This is WAY beyond normal grieving.

I didn't mean to offend anyone. Please understand that. I can not express how difficult this is to watch a friend go under.....
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#9 of 24 Old 05-08-2003, 08:47 PM
 
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Oh wow, March.

She still is really going to need a lot of support and caring, suggest bulliten boards or a group that deals with the loss of a child. I understand that you have had a miscarriage but she might need to hear from a larger group.

I am assuming she is aware of your miscarriage is why she hasn't pushed you away, I am sure she understands you have been through something similar.

I am not trying to say you are being insensitive but every woman grieves differently and this may take drastic measures.

She will probably have to be dragged out of the house, dragged to get her nails done, hair done. Just something girly and fun. Trashy novels, bath bombs, wonderful smelling lotions or soaps. Delicious teas, a makeover, dye her hair, I understand what you mean now and while she has every reason to grieve and will continue to do so for some time she will also need some things to get her jump started into living again.

What are her interests?? Does she like biking, hiking, music festivals?? Just drag her to something. Just getting her out of the house will help.

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#10 of 24 Old 05-08-2003, 09:59 PM
 
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There's a really good book I've read called "Soul Trek". It talks about how babies choose to come & when and to which parents. It has a really good chapter on loss of preg. which I and several friends have found very comforting after miscarriages.
If that's not in the line of her spiritual beliefs there's a good book we've been reading since my dad passed called, "The Power of Now". It has helped my mom alot to focus on what is now instead of what could have been, etc.
Also depending on beliefs again, I went to see a medium after my dad passed and found the messages very comforting. This can also be tricky because if nothing came up about the baby it may be even more difficult for her.
Maybe this will help. My thoughts are with her. She is lucky to have a friend who is so concerned.
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#11 of 24 Old 05-09-2003, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks! I have been trying to drag her out, so is her husband. We want her to get some semblance of life back. Yes, it is VERY SOON after....I know that.

I will suggest some books to her.

Last night, she decided that this was all punishment for being her. Sigh.....
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#12 of 24 Old 05-10-2003, 02:48 AM
 
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Foobar, I am going to say it. You are being very insensitive and callous to your friend.

My first son was born premature and lived for 38 days. Let me tell you how my grief has gone.

1st month, I cried and slept. That's it. That's all I could handle.

2nd month, I stopped feeling. I couldn't stand to feel anymore, so I just stopped. I might as well have been in a coma.

3rd month was Christmas time. My family tried to cheer me up. How could I be cheery when my baby was dead? At gatherings, I stayed as far away from babies as I could without leaving. I couldn't stand to look at them or hear them.

4th month, I went into counseling to try and drag myself out of this pit of despair.

5th month, I start to enjoy little things here and there. I can go to a movie or read a book and relax a little.

6th month, a stray dog came into my life and I found a reason to get out of bed in the morning. She truely was a life line and I am still so grateful to have her.

My son died 4 1/2 years ago. I am still grieving. I still have days and weeks that I cry. I still blame myself. I still blame that !@#$%^&*ing OB. I still blame God.

Yes, I have gone on. I have another son. I am happy. But, I needed time. Your friend needs time. She needs to feel whatever she does. If she feels she is being punished, then she needs to work through that. Not at your pace, at hers.


Lay off and give her some support.

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#13 of 24 Old 05-14-2003, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Melanie,

I appreciate your words. I am sorry that you lost your child. I understand your bluntness and I am not offended.

I have been blunt and asked my friend if I should stay back. If I should just listen or offer suggestions. If I should drag her out or have her stay in. She wants the intervention. She wants to get out, but can't do it herself. She blames herself in one breath and then asks for a promise that it isn't her fault in the next. I listen, I talk, and I am trying to help.
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#14 of 24 Old 05-14-2003, 02:45 PM
 
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Foobar,

I can see that you are trying to be a good friend. It is very hard to know what to do in a situation like this. Good for you for asking her directly what she needs.

to both of you.

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#15 of 24 Old 05-15-2003, 02:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just an update.

I was talking with my friend last night and she wanted to understand how overwelming it was to have a new baby. I tried to explain my experiences and we both realized that she was frustrated because she was supposed to be experiencing that right now and she was getting mad at her friend for not having time for her. We went over jealousy (which my friend admitted to being jealous of her friend for having a child) and how that was ok, but she decided she needed to look at that emotion.(this is what I meant by her counsoler not doing..her counsoler would just not have her investigate these emotions, but tell her that she is justified in all cases without stopping to look at the emotions and see what is the root cause).

She's mad that she is grieving still and we talked about how it will take time, but then she admitted that she wants to be grieving and she is torn between wanting to move forward and wanting to wallow in grief.

Things are moving forward. She is slowly healing and I hope that I can continue to help.
Thanks again for all of your help.

As my friend said last night "In isolation, you diminish, in a community, you heal"
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#16 of 24 Old 05-17-2003, 12:53 AM
 
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I'm glad you were able to explain yourself better here, Foo. I know you are a sweet, kind person and that you are trying to be there for your friend. I can't imagine how I would deal with that happening to a friend of mine. You have taken on a tough job when it might have been easier to distance yourself. You're a good friend!!

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#17 of 24 Old 05-17-2003, 02:16 AM
 
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Foo,

12 years ago I gave birth to my son Jake who was still born.
The pain NEVER goes away... never. It does decrease and there are now weeks, sometimes months tha I do not grieve for him.

I do wonder what he would look like, if he would be teasing his sisters, if he would adore his big brother? Would he have been a blue eyed blond or have the haunting green eyes of his oldest sister?

Thinking of him and missing him are what keeps part of him with me. I am his mom and if I simply "went on" I I would feel like I was abandoning him......... he is still my child..his spirit lives in everthing that is good and gentle and kind.......he is and forever will be a part of me.

I undersatnd where you friend is. I have been there. Just love her. Talk about her son. Encourage her to talk about him. Call him by name.

YOu friend is very blessed you are in her life....

Peace to both,

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#18 of 24 Old 05-19-2003, 01:13 PM
 
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foobar, you are being a great friend.

I think what is happening is that you are so close to her you are almost like family. And family dynamics are different than friend dynamics. I am so close to my friends that definitely I am a member of the family. There are a few friends whom I'm more "friends-like" than family...does that even make sense? Anyway, when you are more like family than friend you are more plugged in to the emotions and investments and losses.

Given the loss happened only in March I kind of think that she sounds like she is right on course. In fact if she was 'out there' more and light and playing...well, I would feel MORE concerned. My own thing is that I think in trimesters. You know how babies reach monumental steps inutero in three months steps... and even after they are born every thing seems to happen in 3 month increments.

Well, I think your friend is still in the sad despair trimester. and to me that makes sense... it wouldn't if I were her family though... I would probably be worried... like you and her dh. but I have the advantage of being out of the loop.

I would be gentle with her and I would follow her lead..she indicates she wants to go out more so you can help pick the right little trips or errands. Also give her some space... and by the way, like a family member, you too have the loss of the little one. YOu might need some comfort too. Go to a spa with a friend who doesn't know your friend. Have a cry in the steam room.

also, your friend who just had the baby.... try to let her not personalize your other friend's withdrawal.

hugs to you.

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#19 of 24 Old 05-22-2003, 06:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks guys!

I am glad I reexplained things. It is so hard to write what I want to say sometimes.

Today she wrote to me that she feels that she's going to grieve forever and I agreed that she would. Her son (whose name is Matthew meaning "gift from G-d" and we do use it all of the time), will always be with us. However, it is good to see her starting to heal a bit more and to not focus on what she did wrong (the genetic bad copy was most likely from one of her eggs). We've been talking about that (how it isn't her fault and how her emotional side is fighting with her logical side).

Thanks SO much. As I read your responses, I have more things that I can think about and discuss with her. Does that make sense?
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#20 of 24 Old 07-08-2003, 02:34 AM
 
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Everyone grieves differently. To lose a child no matter what age the child is: in utero, at birth, or later in life is difficult. It is not something you just get over with. Grieving is a long process. I lost my son a little over two years ago when he was three and there are still days when I am very sad but then there are days when I do feel like I can on.

You can't force someone to get on with their life. She has to do it when she is ready to do it. Right now being around people who have had children might be very painful for her. I don't know how long it has been but I know when my son first died I cried everytime I saw a young boy around his age.

As for her stop grieving I doubt she will ever stop grieving the death of her baby. Losing a child is not something you just stop grieving over. Her baby will always be a part of her life.

As for help I would recommend if she will go to join a support group that specialize in her situation. I found Compassionate Friends to be very helpful during those first months after my son's death. Realizing that I wasn't alone and what I was going through was normal helped.

I really feel for your friend. I hope she will be okay.
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#21 of 24 Old 07-09-2003, 03:59 AM
 
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i just lost my baby 2wks ago i was 12wks along and have been looking for any kinda of book to remind me that this happened for a reason . my heart as never been so dark . i feel so bad for foobar freind . their is nothing in this world harder then losing a child .
love and light to all
mommy to 4 yr old joseph & 12wk
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#22 of 24 Old 07-10-2003, 12:52 AM
 
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At 4 months after my daughter was SB at almost 29 weeks, I was just beginning to emerge from the fog. Frankly, I needed to wallow, to fully experience the depth of my loss before I could move on. I was still having PP hormonal roller coasters at that point, separate from any mental/emotional state. My Mom was worried that I had PPD, which I may have had (how to distinguish grief from PPD?), but I had to hit bottom before I could begin to go up. Even now, at just short of a year from her birth/death, I feel I am only just beginning to heal. That her child had a genetic defect, that she birthed him knowing he was already dead, that she lost him at all, that she is worried about genetic defects in future children, can she have future children, etc, are all separate issues that have to be grieved, and may be grieved at different rates and timetables.

Clinically, I recognized that I needed to get out, but the effort of composing myself for the event was often more than I could bear. I couldn't drive safely at times, and was not even aware of it at the moment. I couldn't sleep, I woke up feeling I was in labor every time I had menstrual cramps, blamed myself in irrational ways just because I needed someone, something to blame. Fortunately for me, dh and I grieved similarly and helpfully for each other, amd "moved on" at the same rate. One of the ways we re emerged into life was to eat out. We spent more money on restaurants those first 6m than we probably had in 2 or 3 years. I was too emotionally spent to even cook for my family, and it provided us with the excuse we needed that it was "okay" to do something pleasureable and that it didn't diminish who our baby was to us.

As far as babies, I still have trouble around babies, esp girls. It has gotten better, that at this point is only that newborn stage that hits me in the stomach. I still rebel at the unfairness of it all.

My point, I guess, is that she probably is moving on, but sometimes you have to go backwards and forwards to get there. Day by day it may not seem like much, but in the overall there should be a general direction toward healing. If she is truly having deep depression, she may need to see her dr about it for medication. Otherwise, let her experience however deep she needs to be, and be there to pull her out of it when she needs, on her own terms, when she asks for it.

Carrie
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#23 of 24 Old 07-10-2003, 09:38 PM
 
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Everything comes in its own time.

s

Sorry...
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#24 of 24 Old 07-23-2003, 05:20 PM
 
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it is not walloing, it is grief. unless you have been there, you would not know. Before I lsot my mom, I thoguth that 6 months was enought time to move on
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