At an arm’s length



Most people don’t know everything you lose when you lose a child. There’s so much more than the death, it touches every aspect, every relationship, every part of you. It’s solitary. It’s dark. It makes you crazy and sad and pathetic. I often find myself standing in Mason’s room, overwhelmed by his things. The things he touched mean so much and the things he never used remind me of all we’ll miss. The article (link below) talks about losing friendships after losing a child. You don’t think that people would abandon you at the very lowest point in your life. You’d never imagine that people you were there in their times of need suddenly are too busy for you.

This has been especially hard for me to come to terms with. Intentionally (or unintentionally) not being invited places, getting blown off or feeling like everyone has moved on with their happy lives. People don’t understand how much energy it takes for you to do seemingly simple things, to even like a facebook picture or send a text or get out of bed is exhausting. Work consumes you because you can keep busy which is an escape from your loneliness and thoughts. I appreciate the people who’ve called about real estate, even if it’s just a quick question, instead of acting like I have the plague. Treating me with some semblance of normalcy is refreshing. You really find out who cares enough to put in the effort and understand that I am truly trying, it just takes all I have to function, little alone be a good friend. People I never expected to “step up” and others I never thought would abandon us. It’s like pouring salt into a wound.

I’ve spent my entire life “being there” for any and everyone. Your dog had to be put down. I held your hand as you said goodbye. Others have lost jobs or pregnancies or marriages and I dropped everything to be there, to be supportive. Your house caught on fire, I rallied to get you clothes and food. You needed emergency childcare, I was there to help. I can’t think of a single time that I didn’t show up in some fashion. But losing a baby is so different. The loss is unlike anything else, there is no comparison. Even other deaths aren’t the same. People don’t know what to do so they just avoid you. I think the hardest part is that friends I thought I could count on have moved on. Not just one or two but many. And I’m still here, drowning in my grief.

I hang out with other child-loss moms because they get it.  There are just some moms who understand, unfortunately. We don’t want to bond over our losses but they connect with you on a level that can’t be described. If we plan lunch and talk about our dead babies the whole time it’s not awkward. You don’t feel pity when you’re with them.

The triggers, the exhaustion, the insensitivity, everything is overwhelming. Even if people’s insensitivity isn’t intentional it seems like a personal blow. But there is so much gratitude to the friends who haven’t given up, who show up whether we have plans or not, who keep texting even if I don’t answer, who show kindness & inclusion to my living son (that alone is huge for me. Knowing that people we considered friends before still think of him and invite and include him and show up for him. That is everything.) and those who understand that this hurt will never go away. It may lessen but there’s even pain and guilt in that too. I didn’t choose this life, I don’t choose to grieve, I don’t choose the anxiety and PTSD and solitude… it is just part of me now and I have a new, deeper appreciation for the people who accept and love the broken me.

It is true, you lose friends when your baby dies but you also built such strong, meaningful friendships be them new or old friends. You are sadly aware that you’re not worth the effort or that maybe people were never really your friends to begin with. Or you’re just too much for them, your crazy and sadness and misfortune appear to be contagious so they stay at an arm’s length. I’ve had people I never would expect just message me to say they heard a song and thought of Mason, or they’ll purchase a jar or send out a quick text just to say they care or even show up at your door to make sure that you really are ok even though they know you’re not. Lunch dates become cherished events. It’s not just initial thoughtfulness, it’s continued caring and patience and love.

When you’re already drowning in the pieces of your life after loosing your baby you need those life preserver friends, the ones who will sacrifice themselves to save you. They know it’s messy and sad and dark but they join you in your sadness for as long as it takes the light to return. Baby loss is devastating, friend loss just adds to that hurt.


Losing Friends After Child Loss


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