How do I help you? A Friend’s Perspective on the Loss of a Baby
I am fortunate to have the most amazing friends in the world. I only want the best for them, and I want them to have everything they want in life. So what do you do when one of those friends loses a baby?
When my best friend called me in May of 2015 at 6am I jumped out of bed hoping for the best news. She was expecting her 2nd child after dealing with infertility, and I was anxiously waiting for the arrival of the new baby. I instantly knew something was wrong when I answered the phone. Through choking sobs she told me her baby died. I will never forget those words or the raw pain in her voice when she spoke those words.
I got off the phone after crying with her and being unable to really say anything. I was shocked, confused, and upset. After crying my heart out, I immediately asked myself, “How do I help her?” I am a type A personality, and it’s instinct for me to fix things and try make things better. I am also a people person and it’s in my nature to want to take care of my friends when they are hurt. This was new territory for me. This was something so horrible and unfamiliar, I found myself struggling to make sense of how this could have happened and what I could do to help. I knew there was nothing I could do to make it better which I understood the only thing that would, would be to bring back her baby.
Should I go over to her house? Would she want me there? Should I send flowers? A card? Food? Everything seemed so trivial. I was so ill equipped to help my friend through the most devastating moment of her life. I was terrified of doing or saying the wrong thing. I think I was afraid of hurting her even more. As if that was possible. I agonized over how to help. I googled, I researched, I talked with our other friends…Then I thought, she is my best friend. There is nothing I can do to take away her pain or her loss, but I can be with her. Simply listen to her and cry with her and help her grieve. So that’s what I did. Visits, texts, and calls. My friend was also wonderful in guiding me through her feelings. She was honest in telling me she didn’t know what to say or how to feel either.
The weeks and months that followed, our friends and I struggled over whether or not to invite her to gatherings and events. We didn’t want it to seem like we were making light of her loss or that we were forgetting or moving on. So we asked her, and she said, “never stop inviting me, but I can’t promise that I will come.” We continued to invite her and understood when she couldn’t show up.
I got married a few months after Harper died. My best friend was by my side as a bridesmaid despite her devastation. Would I have been upset if she wasn’t there? Of course, but I would have understood because that’s what friends do. They love and support each other through all of life’s celebrations and heartbreaks.
Looking back on it now, I was there for my friend in the only way I knew how. Was it perfect? No. Did I always do or say the right thing? Of course not. But this loss and grief was like none we were familiar with in our lives. Someone once told me that grief is messy and uncomfortable and you just have to sit with it. That seems easy to do but having experienced grief life so many, at times it seems like the most difficult aspect of life. I still wish I could have done more, but I’m glad I did what I could when I could to comfort and support my best friend.
It’s been five years since Harper left the earth. How do I help my friend now? I try to look for Harper’s signs (she’s convinced me that they are there, and I share them with her when I see them), I remember her on her birthday (and will continue to wear Harper’s color every year), support my friend in her journey as a mom with an angel baby, and I look forward to finding new ways of honoring Harper.
Written by: Ann Perazzelli