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How can I optimize support?

Every day I think of my friend A., who is in the midst of her second miscarriage. (You remember–I killed her baby with my selfishness.) And I never quite know whether to contact her. Does she need to be left alone? Is she sick and tired of thinking ceaselessly about her situation? Is she trying to stay focused on work? Is she going to get my e-mail (I am totally phobic about using the phone so would never call her) at a terrible time? And then I was reading hope4joy‘s post about the lack of support she’s gotten from her family and thought, SHIT, A. might very well be feeling equally abandoned! Simply because I am not one of those people who’s magically brilliant in these situations.

Basically, the amount of sadness I feel for her (and all of you who have been there…) incapacitates me.

So I wondered if you guys would be willing to tell me about the kinds of support that have helped you. Particularly those of you who have been through a loss, but really all of you. Of course you’re all going to say, It’s your comments, Bunny, that got me through those dark times. I know, I know. But surely there are other things.

What are the words that have actually eased your suffering, if only for a moment? How often did you want to hear from those who loved you? In what form? (I mean, how many times can I send her flowers with a note that promises things will get better someday? Is it time to shift to balloons or a clown?) At any given moment, what was the probability that you really didn’t want to be reminded of your loss or failed IVF cycle or negative test? (Could you ever actually forget it?) In short, what should I do to help my friend?

I’m afraid the answer is NOTHING WILL HELP. And I guess I know nothing really will. So perhaps the question is simply what should I do?

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. It's your comments, Bunny, that got me through those dark times.True, but more to the point– You should email her EVERY DAY and tell her that you are thinking of her and ask her how she's doing!!!Also, a good idea is to ask her when would be a good time to call. That way if she is evasive, then it means she doesn't really want to talk. You can even say, "I want to call you, but only if you're ready to talk. Let me know if there is a good time to call you." Something like that.And then when you do call, just say you're really sad and you're thinking about her, and let her talk if she wants. Do NOT say 'things will be better' or 'I know you'll get pregnant again soon'. No no no no no! You are a great friend, to even be asking how to optimize support! She is very lucky, as are all of us, to have you.

    June 2, 2010
  2. It's your comments, Bunny, that got me through those dark times! (I see Leslie beat me to it).And I will be repeating Leslie's advice. The people who helped me the most during those first few weeks/months are the people who called and just said "I've been thinking about you a lot. How are you doing?" That's all. It was up to me how much I wanted to share or not share. And I'm a sharer, so it was usually a lot. And then they listened while I cried or laughed or talked about whatever was on my mind that day.Lots of people called the week of the miscarriage. Some people called the week after. But thereafter, very, very few people called to check up on me, as opposed to shoot the shit or tell me about their lives. The people who did are so golden in my book, I can't even tell you.And the big thing to remember is, just as you suggested, she hasn't forgotten her losses. You didn't remind her of them. She may not feel like talking about it all the time. She may even look fine the next time you see her. But she hasn't forgotten. You showing awareness of her struggle and an openness to hearing her pain is the best thing to do to let her know that you haven't forgotten either. Feeling like everyone around you has forgotten sucks, too.

    June 2, 2010
  3. As someone who felt fairly abandoned during several losses (my own damned fault…most people didn't know and those few who did had no idea how to react) I would say: something simple, nothing fancy. Send her a card. Or a short e-mail. Just tell her that you are thinking of her and are sad for her. It's weird – when I was going through it I found it excruciating to talk to anyone but my husband (though, take that with a grain of salt as I'm generally telephone-averse, big freak that I am). But I appreciated small kindnesses from people who wanted to let me know that they understood that it was a big, horrible deal. The best communiques carried not a word of advice, or 'rational thinking' (along the lines of, 'Well, you got pregnant once, so…'). I also appreciated people who, once they'd let me know they were thinking of me, let me come out of my shell in my own sweet time. (And it took awhile). It's hard where she is. But it's also hard on the outside. Okay, a vastly different kind of hard. But it's difficult to know how to behave, how to react. Good luck with it.

    June 2, 2010
  4. AL #

    I agree with everything Sloper and Leslie said. Kind thoughtful gestures, however small – Making dinner and bringing it over, sending flowers, taking your friend out, anything that lets her know that you want to help her through the hard times and your there for her. You can't fix what's happened, obviously, but you can make her feel less lonely in her grief and brighten her day in so many ways. If someone stopped by my house and take me to get a pedi or a massage, that would have completely made my day. Made my week.Calls or emails just to say you're thinking of her – that you're there if she wants to vent, cry, get wasted, whatever she wants or needs were always welcome and touching. The worst thing for me was people pretending it didn't happen or "giving me space" or avoiding me. Like Sloper said, bringing it up doesn't hurt your friend – she's already thinking about it. It felt really lonely and it made me very angry that after loss number 2 no one sent a card, flowers, nothing when they did for the first. I still don't understand why, as the second was so much harder for me than the first.Don't tell her about all the great things going on in your life unless she asks. My sister would routinely call right after the ectopic and ramble on and on about her upcoming wedding and the house their buying and how excited she is. I can be happy for her now, but right then I didn't give a shit. I think she was trying to fill the void or distract me, but I just wanted to talk about the only thing on my mind: my lost pregnancy.You're a great friend, Bunny, I'm sure your friend appreciates you so much. Let us know how it goes.

    June 2, 2010
  5. Obviously, it's your comments, bunny, that got me through those dark times. (Actually, they DID really help. You're very empathetic).I know exactly how you feel, agonising about what to do, but having crossed the line to the Dark Side, I now can tell you that I loved all the comments, all the cards and all the texts and phone calls. (Well. I liked the phone calls, but wasn't much cop at talking about It on the phone.) Texts and emails were really good – non-intrusive and immediate. And when people came over, I wanted them to tell me about run of the mill stuff. I liked that, it made me feel more normal. I am sure your friend will appreciate your efforts to support her, whatever form they come in. You can just play it by ear – the important thing is to be available in whatever way she might need. You'll know what to do. You are mighty.

    June 2, 2010
  6. only a few girlfriends know what's going on with me, but right after ivf #1 went south and i was about teetering on the edge, one of my girlfriends kept calling me over and over again bc i wasn't picking up the phone. i finally wrote her back "going through bad time. will holler when i feel okay again". after that email, about once a week or so, i'd get an email from her saying "love you" or "thinking of you" or "sending a big hug" or "call me only when you're ready". those were the 4-ish emails that i got from her and each one made me smile. and that was all i needed. i knew i could pick up the phone and call her, but she was letting me know she'd listen if i needed.i don't think you need to do anything fancy. just maybe drop a line saying you're thinking of her and are just a phone call away :o)

    June 2, 2010
  7. I've suffered 3 miscarriages and all anyone could have said to me at any stage was "that fucking sucks and i'm so sorry". I hated hearing most of everything else. It's such a hard thing to go through and unfortunately, no words really help ease the pain of it all BUT knowing that you have a friend there for you who is willing to let you cry about it and talk out your own feelings, fears, grief, etc. is worth its weight in gold. At least for me it was. I'm really sorry to hear about your friend. It really does fucking suck.

    June 2, 2010
  8. JC #

    Awe, you're such a good friend for thinking of her and wanting to help. I'm sure she will really appeciate you reaching out to her.I haven't gone through a loss but when I was going through hard times it helped if people emailed letting me know they were thinking of me or cared or asked how I was doing or if I wanted to talk. My mom was really the only one who I let come over and bring me dinner and be there when I cried and wanted to talk. The rest an email or text was all I needed/wanted. Acknowledgement really. My SIL/step-MIL pretended like nothing happened and ignored it probably b/c they didn't know what to do but it sucked and hurt a lot. I think you acknowledging it and just doing anything, even something so small would mean a lot. You're so sweet Bunny!!

    June 2, 2010
  9. cgd #

    The best thing people did for me was to tell me that they loved me and that they were thinking about me. I think it helped when the people who had not experienced IF or pregnancy loss, acknowledged that they had no idea what this must feel like. I also think (like Sienna said) letting them know that there is no expectation of a response. You are such a great friend, do not sell yourself short.

    June 2, 2010
  10. I agree wholeheartedly with everyone else. Send her a card or an email and let her know that you are thinking of her, and that you are there for her, then let her come to you. If she does want to talk, let her talk and just be there for her. Same as in IF land, worse thing you can say is it will get better, at least you can get pregnant etc etc etc. If she would like to go out to take her mind off it, then that's nice too. I can assure you your friend will be thinking of her losses and will never forget them.

    June 2, 2010
  11. I can in no way relate to losing a baby. But as far as the general IF experience, sometimes I just wanted to have a normal life again. Going to a movie, say. No real necessity to talk about all the sad things (though you could always go for coffee after and chat if its what you want), and it's just nice to go get out of your head to a different place now and then. And it's nice to stay connected to your friends. You're a good friend, Bunny.

    June 3, 2010
  12. I got a couple nice cards – not super wordy, but they did A LOT to make me feel less alone. You don't have to say exactly the right thing; just be there.

    June 3, 2010
  13. I think all of this is solid advice. But, really, just reaching out and letting you know you are there is enough. Also, if you are willing to just say hello, share a funny story and let her know that you are thinking of her without really dwelling on the "this all sucks part" it will go a long way towards helping her feel connected. We all feel terribly alone during losses and being present is the best way to be there.And you know that your comments are the very thing to sustain me. 🙂

    June 3, 2010
  14. I have nothing to offer, but appreciate this post and the comments that followed. A friend of mine is also going through a loss and I want her to know how much I care and how much I hurt for her…but I also don't want to minimize her grief because I have no idea what it feels like to lose a baby. I know I plan to keep following up with little notes of support/concern, because that's all I can do.

    June 3, 2010
  15. Oh this sucks because its so close to home for me right now but maybe that makes it a perfect place for me to comment??? I found I was quite unpredictable whilst misscarrying and sometimes I would want company and othertimes I would want to be left alone. The things that helped me the best were when people were able to find the balance between smothering me (no thanks) and not abandoning me completely. I'll admit I was not nice to be around and that must make it so much harder for friends and family as they really had no idea what to say or do (but I think thats ok as I had no idea what to say or do either). So I would say reach out to her and just let her know you are thinking of her. Don't tell her that things will get better or that you know what she's going through becuase even if you've been in a similar situation you really don't know what she's feeling. Just let her know from a distance that you are thinking of her. And don't give up on her. Even if she ignores your texts or emails or phone messages she will still appreciate your efforts, she just might not have the words or the strength to enagage in conversations. Keep it simple and don't go and buy her extravagent presents as I found it hard when people gave me presents as they just serve as a reminder of what went wrong. You are a lovely friend Bunny and I'm being honest when I say that your comments always help me. xxx

    June 4, 2010

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