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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

for one and all > WTF

One of my close friends just had a baby. A week later, her grandfather died. He was 100, lived a wonderful life, and was probably close to dying for a while. There is a text chain with all my friends right now fretting about what to do for her. Should we send flowers? A condolence basket? But the grandfather's funeral is a plane ride away... do we send the basket to her house? Maybe we should send a condolence/"baby support" gift for when she gets back from the funeral?

When my baby died last May at 23 weeks, I emailed this list of friends. I sent his picture, told them the whole story (we terminated for medical reasons). I decided to email directly and not "let the word leak out" since I didn't want an awkward interaction where everyone wondered whether they should say something or not. I received a few one-time phone calls, and a bunch of one-time emails that said "I'm so sorry for your loss". Do you know HOW many gift baskets/condolence letters/"support gifts" I received from this group? Zero. I can't stand this damn text chain. Everyone is so bent out of shape over a 100-year-old man dying (OK it's sad... but come on... we all die eventually) and how we are going to support our poor friend, but I got nothing when the horrific unthinkable happened last year. Is it just me? How is it that the saddest thing in my life did/continues to get completely ignored?
March 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAbby
Abby, I'm so sorry. That's really shitty. Losing friends/finding out that people you thought might be there for you but weren't and aren't, it just makes everything hurt even more. 2.5 years out, I've learned to accept that some people will just never be there for me and honestly, I've basically cut them out of my life. But it sucks, it hurts and agreed, wtf, all this when a 100 year old dies but zip when it's a baby? That's fucked up.
March 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAB
I know it sounds rough- but I'm done with those people. Yes, there is a level of "they don't know", and yes there is a level of "we are just human"...and yes there is a freedom in forgiving.

But let me tell you...there is also freedom in letting go.

The "friends" I had that behaved that way were the high school clique- and I was probably growing apart from them anyhow. The lack of realness, depth and support when I needed it most abruptly sealed the deal.

i don't know. There's power and healing in pressing delete and whatever. If they didn't get it then, they won't get it now.

Totally not trying to tell you to dump your friends :-) But I found dumping a handful of mine quite healthy.
March 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
Sorry, typing on mobile.

Meant...

I don't know. There is power in healing in pressing "delete" and saying "whatever."

Looks like AB & I agree.

I sometimes feel like I did a spring-cleaning of my friends. The unexpected and wonderful part was that in time, better ones came along.
March 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
Abby... I am so enraged after reading your post... I feel it really is due to the fact that people don't know how to react with baby loss... so easier to handle the old man... I hope it doesn't sound insensitive, but I agree, he lived a whole, full life...

I am sorry you are in this shitty text chain...

Sending you a big hug.
March 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCristiane
I am heartbroken for you. For some reason people often think that because we didn't get to know our babies the loss is somehow less. But I find myself weeping for all of the moments we will not share with our babies. The lullabies not sung. The wet sloppy kisses, bedtime stories, dirty diapers, slippery baths, screaming colic, burps, hiccups, smiles, laughs, tantrums, I love yous. All of the memories we will not make. A lifetime of memories with her grandfather will offer your friend solace in her loss. Our granddaughter was born and died three weeks ago. Twenty-one days and nights of tears. Every single day. But before that were the five months of tears since her diagnosis. Since her death i am trying not to keep a mental tally of those whose silence has astonished and deeply hurt me. I try not to remember the meals I have taken, the cards I have sent, the gifts I have given, the hugs I have shared, the tears I have wept with so many friends in their times of grief. Offerings which for some reason have not been returned in my need. Maybe as Christiane said people are too uncomfortable with infant loss. Maybe our grief is too deep. Maybe they don't know what to do or what to say so they do and say nothing. But I have realized that when another sincerely, lovingly grieves with me, at least for that moment, my grief is lightened. But when someone ignores my grief it is multiplied. I pray I will always remember that. I pray our friends and family will understand that. I wish I could send you a comfort basket. I would fill it with a scented candle, bubble bath, milled soap, lotion, chocolate, a soothing instrumental CD and a soft throw blanket. Prayers for your comfort and peace.
March 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterC
Ugh...I've been put on email lists talking about bringing mom's food after their babies were born, or worse, planning for it for their upcoming birth (I hate when everyone assumes everything will work out perfectly...do these people forget what happened to me?). I've replied "please remove me from this list" and then kind of hope they take a moment to reflect on how they have been less than sensitive. I'm so sorry you are going through this.
March 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMom2htb
C-

I'm so sorry, I think you posted here before in preparation of the birth of your granddaughter about a month ago? I also carried to term after fatal diagnosis. There is just so much time leading up to the birth and death, that holding grudges against people who aren't there is nearly impossible (at least for me). I was so acutely aware of who avoided ever looking at me, talking to me, or doing anything for me. While they may have not known what to do- I don't care. They aren't my friends. I need friends who will be there in the ways I need them...the truest, most real way. I need authenticity and raw friendships that run deep. People who can look in my eyes and sit in my story with me.

You are in such an intensely painful time. You are hurting for your son/daughter and spouse, but also, you are grieving your loss too-- I am not sure my parents felt permission to grieve their granddaughter instead of just hurt for me. You've lost so much of your future, too.

Sorry to hijack the post. I guess we can all agree that people can just be so short-sighted. Only the really special ones just know what to do or how to be. There is so much freedom in holding onto the ones that feel safe. When my daughter died I grieved her and the world as I knew it, friends and all.
March 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElaina
Oh gosh everyone- Thank you for your replies. This email chain probably hurt more than others would have since this is the group of friends that actually responded "best" to my loss (the other group literally went silent... this group just mostly-so). The thing that confuses me is that despite the fact that people don't know how to respond to infant loss, I truly believe that if anyone objectively asked anyone on my text chain whether losing a 100-year-old grandfather or a baby at 23 weeks gestation is worse, they would all respond that losing a baby is "worse". So I can't understand why the support is so much less.
AB and Elaina- I have also said "goodbye" to some of my former friends. This was initially very hard, and felt a lot like a traditional break-up. But once I made the commitment, it was actually liberating. I realized that some people I actually called my best friends weren't really that at all. Drinking buddies from college, maybe, but ones who have never withstood the full trial of friendship, and when they did, failed miserably.

I just envy the worry that was so easily expended on this other friend of mine. And really, there is no reason to worry about her. She's just fine, dealing with a loss that we have all faced (all of my grandparents have died... after also having lived wonderful long lives). It seems that the more profound the loss, the quieter people get.

C- I am so sorry for your loss as well; and for what your daughter/son and their spouse is going through. But I wish I had a friend like you.
April 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAbby
And Mom2htb- That is just so insensitive of people to put you on a list of "support" for someone who just had a healthy baby. After what I went through, I would be livid if someone over-dramatized the "support" someone needed during a newborn phase, when all I got was zip during something that is far more difficult than that. People are just so shitty sometimes.
April 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAbby