I feel like I've lost touch with my friend since her pregnancy loss. Has too much time passed? Will she even want to talk to me after I pulled away when she needed me? What's the best way to approach her?
Pregnancy loss can really drive a wedge between friends.
For grieving moms, it’s hard to face the basic tasks of getting through the day, much less giving the time and attention that they usually give to their friends. It’s understandable that certain parts of life fall by the wayside for a while.
For friends, grief can feel impenetrable. Feelings of awkwardness, not knowing what to say, and helplessness can make being around a grieving mom difficult. Some moms have a tendency to withdraw, too, making it even harder to reach out. Sometimes, our best intentions as friends can lead to even further separation: you don’t invite your bereaved friend for social occasions, knowing she’s not ready, or not wanting to upset her.
If you’ve realized that your friendship has suffered since a pregnancy loss, and you’re hoping to make repairs, you might be wondering how.
As the Bereaved:
- Make the first move.
Your friend may not know you’re ready to rejoin the social world, so it’s up to you to pick up the phone, send that first message, or stop by.
- Keep it simple.
You had excellent reasons for pulling away, and your friends know that. You certainly don’t owe anyone an apology for your grief, so stick to what’s true. For example, “I’m sorry I’ve been so isolated lately. This has been a hard time for me, and I hope I didn’t offend you by not answering calls.”
- Show them you’re still you.
It’s an unfortunate truth that loss makes people uncomfortable. Your friends might be wondering if it’s okay to talk about less-than-serious subjects, or if you’ve still got a sense of humor. Try to show them you’re the same person you were before.
- Ask about them.
Of course it’s okay to talk about yourself and what’s been happening in your life, but make sure to ask what your friends have been up to and show you’re interested in their answers. You’ll all feel more comfortable once you’re up to speed on each other’s lives.
As a Friend:
- Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out.
Whether it’s you or your grieving friend who is most responsible for the distance between you, don’t be afraid to extend a hand in friendship. It’s possible that your friend is still not ready to be as social as she was before, but it’s just as possible she’ll be relieved you took the responsibility for rebuilding away from her. Maybe you’ll feel more comfortable sending flowers with a note, or stopping by with a lasagna or some cookies.
If you were the one to let your friendship slide, start by saying you’re sorry. You can’t undo the time that has passed, so keep your apology simple and honest. “I’m sorry I haven’t shown you how much I care lately. You’re still very important to me.”
- Ask Her How She’s Doing and Listen.
As awkward as you may feel talking about pregnancy loss, it will mean the world to your friend if you can simply listen. Try to be specific in your question. Most people will respond with “fine” when asked how they are. Try something like, “How was it going back to work after [baby’s name] died?” or “Are you sleeping better lately?” It will especially mean a lot to your friend if you call her baby by name.
- Take Your Cues from Her.
Your friend was probably emotionally fragile the last time you were in contact. You might be nervous that you’re going to upset her or that she won’t be able to talk about anything but her pregnancy loss. It’s likely she will want to talk about it at least a little, but it’s also likely she’s ready for a break from her grief now and then. If she wants to talk about mundane topics, go with her on it. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.
True friendships have an amazing ability to weather storms, and if you’re willing to give rebuilding a try, you may find your friendship stronger than ever.