Friends of bereaved parents:

It’s not about you.

This is the most important piece of advice I could possibly give anyone who wants to be there for their friends during moments of grief. There is so much more I could tell you, but you could easily find a hundred other blog posts out there if you want a list. But to me, personally, the most important advice for you to have is that it’s just not about you.

I’m not being selfish when I say this. And you’d be surprised at the amount of people who just don’t understand. But if you want to be there for you friend, you have to remember that this is about them. This is something that is happening to them. You are there in a supporting role, you are not the star. Your friend does not have the strength to care about you at the moment. That may sound harsh, but they’re not being selfish – they are just grieving.

You honestly should not burden your friend at this time with having to worry about you as well. They’re trying to figure out how to go on living, they really don’t need anything else on their shoulders.

You should keep an open line of communication, but remember, that is on you. You can’t chuck a hissy-fit because your friend isn’t being as receptive as you’d like them to be. You can’t get personally offended that they might take days to reply. You can’t get jealous if they would rather speak to someone else. This is not about you. This is about your friend. And if you truly want to be supportive, you won’t burden them with your hurt feelings – you will at least try to understand, and you will continue to try and support them.

And if you decide that trying to maintain contact is too hard, that is also on you. Your friend will notice. They will remember that you stopped trying, or didn’t try at all; that you thought the relationship was not worth the trouble. And I have no sympathy for you. You have just lost a relationship that you probably didn’t deserve. If you don’t have the patience to deal with your friend’s grief you do not deserve to be there when they finally emerge from their dark hole and feel almost up to living again. You do not get to re-enter their life when the hard part is over. You don’t deserve to.

You need to understand that, during this time, you have to put your friend first. I can’t stress this enough. They may hurt your feelings. And supporting your friend can be exhausting. You also might feel like they don’t appreciate you, but believe me, they do, they just don’t have the energy to show it. In the months to come you will get your appreciation.  

You may have your own grief about their loss, but you need to find your own support for that – it is not up to your friend to support you. I’m not saying you don’t have a right to grieve. You are allowed to be sad as well. But it is ultimately your friend who has lost a child, not you.

This is not about you. You can’t make it about you. You have no right to demand support or care from your friend during this time – that’s what they need you for.


11 thoughts on “Friends of bereaved parents:

  1. younggiftedandblack93 says:

    I know you posted this over a year ago but I was just searching for stories about stillbirth and I found this. I lost my daughter three weeks ago and I cannot tell you how much this piece hits home for me right now. It’s everything that I’ve wanted to express to well-meaning but misguided family members. Thank you so much.

    • Wow, can’t believe it’s been over a year since I wrote this post. It’s always relevant although I’m further into my grief-journey now.
      I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you find some peace in knowing you’re not alone. It’s coming up to two years since I lost my boys and it still hurts as much every day, but slowly I’ve learnt to live with the ache – it probably took me a good six months though to function again.

      • younggiftedandblack93 says:

        Thank you. It’s an incredibly difficult time and though I wish we did not share this is common you’re right–knowing there is someone who is functioning almost two years later helps. Would you say that it took your partner about the same time as you in his grief journey? This is one of those crazy/confusing moments in life where we are both suffering through the loss of a child but the triggers can be different and some of the things we looked forward to doing with our daughter is different. I know it’s so fresh but I worry about being there for him in the way he needs me to be when I am crushed. And he has told me he feels the same way about me. It’s just difficult. And it doesn’t help that my oldest sister is pregnant and we were due like two weeks apart. So all my dreams have gone up in flames while hers continue to exist. It’s hard.

      • I don’t think he took about the same time, but grief is difficult to measure. We both grieved so differently. To me it was like he wasn’t grieving at all, which obviously wasn’t true, he just grieved in a way I didn’t really recognise. I think we both resented each other a little for a while because we expressed our grief in such different ways. He hated me crying all the time and I hated that he didn’t cry.

      • I didn’t quite finish my last comment, I meant to say he didn’t cry because he felt he needed to be strong for me. To set an example.
        I also still can’t stand pregnant people. Obviously I’m happy for them, but it just makes me relive my own sadness, and a part of me resents their carefree happiness. I thought having my daughter might fix that but it didn’t.

      • younggiftedandblack93 says:

        No problem. I’ll just respond on this message. I totally can see where the frustration would come from if you didn’t feel like he seemed sad enough. Even though obviously it’s just grieving differently. Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling like there is no way he can understand my pain when I feel so empty inside. She was just moving around perfectly fine. And then she wasn’t. I know they had their own bond but I don’t know…

        Anyways, congratulations on your baby girl. I can’t lie I am curious as to how people move forward with life and often have more children after a stillbirth. Like how do you know when you’re ready? Can you ever be ready? What roll does your sleeping baby play in your lives when you finally have a living child? Do children with siblings that born sleeping sense something off about their parents? I by no means am directing any of these questions at you. I’m simply thinking through the feelings of sadness, confusion, and loss that I’ve noticed on so many blogs.

        I wish (as I’m sure you did) that you pregnancy didn’t cause you to relive that grief. I imagine that when people see your daughter and find out about your losses they say think that your daughter has filled the void in your heart. But from what I’ve been reading about other women’s experiences (and to me it’s kind of just common sense)–nothing and no one will ever be able to have that piece of you. I mean I guess that’s why my mother always said that she loved my sister’s and I as much as the other but just in a different way because we’re simply different people. No matter how much you love your parents they are two different people and one cannot replace the other. I imagine it’s the same thing with children. Anyways, I hope I did not trigger any negative or unpleasant feelings as I know that right now everything makes me cry. If I did I apologize in advance. I’m sort of just rambling.

      • It’s okay. You didn’t trigger anything. I cry when I talk about my sons sometimes; but that never means I do not want to talk about them.
        I’m not sure if you can ever be ready. And as Charlie is still just a baby, she has no understanding of her big brothers so they don’t play much of a role yet. She does have gifts from them to her under our Christmas tree this year, and we have a book called “Someone Came Before You” which I am looking forward to reading to her when she is old enough.
        I hope you’re doing okay.❤️ I was a zombie for months after losing my boys.

      • younggiftedandblack93 says:

        That’s good to know and that’s a really great idea to always incorporate your boys in holidays. I feel like graduate school has consumed my time for the past month and a half but I can feel myself starting to mentally and emotionally pull away from things. “A zombie” is the only thing I can describe it as. As the semester ends I just feel so detached and unlike my former self. I was told that you cannot speed up the grieving process so maybe that’s what it is. But this really sucks.

  2. younggiftedandblack93 says:

    So yeah, please ignore the spelling/grammatical errors. Under normal circumstances, I would have scrutinized every detail of my comment but I’m realizing that I’m starting to crack a bit. So I apologize for my above incoherent comment but I have no clue how to edit comments once its posted. I’ve only been using WordPress for like two weeks. So yeah.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s