Best friend's first baby stillborn at 37 weeks. Advice please on how best to support her.

(23 Posts)
VestaCurry Tue 22-Jul-14 12:13:34

She has been wonderful to me, dropped everything to help when I've had an emergency situation. Supported me through a very difficult bereavement, and I'm so lucky to have her as my friend.
I'm devastated for her and her dh. They got married a year ago and she wasn't sure if she could get pregnant due to fertility issues, but aged 40, she became pregnant quickly.
I have a 'thinking of you' card for them and some writing paper as I wanted to write a separate letter to her, telling her I am here for her and just as she has supported me through very hard times, I will do the same.
She wrote a lovely letter to me very soon after the bereavement I mentioned, so it feels right to write to her.
She has a very close-knit supportive family who I know will be helping in any way they can.
To be honest I feel helpless. She will have just gone home without her baby in her arms. Every time I try to write the card or letter I just well-up with tears.

Velve Tue 22-Jul-14 12:33:19

I think your card and letter idea is wonderful. I found that the only thing that didn't anger me were the people who said they were there if I ever wanted to talk about my wonderful girl.
I was so full of sadness and anger that pretty much anything else really set me off. I hated flowers, people saying "time heals", "you can have another one.", and "she's in a better place" plus all the usual bereavement cliches. Blergh.
I know you feel helpless but this is pretty much the only thing you can do, just be there for her.

Velve Tue 22-Jul-14 12:35:22

Oh and let yourself grieve for her, cry as much as you want.
I found it came across as cold when others were holding in their emotions around me, and made me feel guilty almost.

Lottapianos Tue 22-Jul-14 12:39:53

How absolutely heartbreaking. A close colleague lost her little girl at full term a few years ago. It's hard to get your head around the loss.

The card sounds lovely but is it possible to go and visit her? I went to visit my colleague after she lost her daughter and spent some time looking at photos they had of her, and letting her talk about what the birth was like and how they chose her name. I think we brought some food and some wine as well - useful provisions rather than anything celebratory obviously.

I think what people recommend is that you avoid cliches, avoid saying anything to minimise the loss, let the bereaved parent take the lead but be prepared to keep the conversation going if they find it too upsetting or exhausting, talk about the baby, use baby's name.

I'm so sorry for her and for you too sad

VestaCurry Tue 22-Jul-14 12:43:51

Thanks Velve. I need to just get on with writing to her.
Those awful cliches make me cringe. Someone close to me said 'well at least she knows she can get pregnant', which really shocked me and I didn't hold back in my response.

VestaCurry Tue 22-Jul-14 13:01:15

Velve, I know when I see her I won't be able to hold back the tears, so it's a relief you feel that's ok.
Lottapianos, I'm going to say in my letter that when she's ready, I would love to see her. If she wants to show me photos and talk about the baby, I know she will. I will ask anyway because I would love to see a photo of him and talk if she then wants to. She texted a few hours after the delivery and said he was lovely.

Lottapianos Tue 22-Jul-14 13:05:24

That's a great idea Vesta - let her tell you when she's ready to see you. She may not be in any fit state to see anyone right now. I was surprised when I went to see my colleague how together she was - it was about a week after her daughter's birth. She looked exhausted and incredibly sad but wasn't distraught if you know what I mean. She said that your body just can't cope with being utterly devastated all the time, so the emotion comes and goes in waves. Such a dreadful thing for anyone to have to go through. She will need you so much in the months and years to come sad

As someone who has had a SB, please leave out the bit 'just as she has supported me through very hard times, I will do the same' - sounds a bit as though you're only doing it out of obligation which I know is not what you mean.

And don't be pushy about the photos, or hurt if she doesn't want you to see them. Only my husband and I will ever see our son's photos - it's the only thing we have as his parents that is just ours. I know it irritated the fuck out of me that my otherwise lovely mother was very insistent for a while that she should see them as his grandmother.

You sound a lovely friend, btw. Many of my friendships never recovered from what we went through. I kind of felt, a la Marilyn, if they couldn't be arsed when things were at their worst, I couldn't be arsed to share any of the good bits of friendship with them afterwards.

VestaCurry Tue 22-Jul-14 20:41:16

Thanks Penguin, I'm so sorry that you and Velve have had to go through this sad.
She may well want to keep the photos private, she's a naturally reserved person, so that will be fine by me, I'll be led by her.
I can't imagine us drifting apart because of this, not on my part. If she doesn't contact me me for ages that's fine, but I will continue to let her know I'm thinking abut her.

FlipFantasia Tue 22-Jul-14 21:12:24

I am so sorry to read this thread. One of my own best friends lost her baby girl over the weekend. A routine appointment on Fri showed her heart had stopped and she delivered her on Sat at 41+3.

I have spoken to her (cried with her) and emailed. She has told me about the moment she found out, what her labour was like. How soft her baby's skin was. And of course her name. I am devastated for her and her husband.

I'm also 28 weeks pregnant with my 3rd. But my grief is for her and not anything to do with my own baby (only as other friends have assumed my upset must be because I'm pregnant and it's not. It's to do with the horror they are experiencing).

For those mums who have experienced this, would you have been able to have a pregnant friend visit? She is planning a memorial for Sunday and I'd like to go. It involves travelling from NYC to the Midwest and I would only do it with her permission. If she wants just close family, then fine with me. I just want to support her at this time, when none of her closest friends (who are all in London) can make it. Before I broach it I thought I'd see if I could get any advice here. I just want to be sensitive.

I am sorry to hijack this thread.

I am sorry that any mother has experience of this.

Flip, I wouldn't have cared that you were pregnant because I didn't want your baby, I wanted my own. I would have appreciated the considerable thought and effort you made though.

FlipFantasia Tue 22-Jul-14 23:13:12

Penguin thanks for that. It makes sense and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

FlipFantasia Wed 23-Jul-14 08:33:03

Penguin, just thought I'd say that the tickets are booked. She really wants me there. But I'm glad I checked, both here and with her. Thanks again.

lucy101 Wed 23-Jul-14 08:42:47

Hi there. This happened to me and all the advice above is very good. Letters, using my babies name, just being there without asking questions was so important sadly a number of people my age got it wrong, in one case very wrong (inappropriate questions). I found people who cried too much upsetting as I needed them to be strong for me (but all of this is so personal). I had some wonderful letters though from elderly people who had a better understanding of grief. I also had a wonderful friend fly over from NY to be nearby. I didn't see her all the time but just knowing she was here was amazing. I won't forget her kindness. You sound lovely by the way.

dunkinhobnobs Sun 27-Jul-14 20:30:58

Hi Vesta
How are you? Have you spent anytime with your friend yet?
I lost my baby boy at 37 weeks 9 months ago. I would agree with all the advice you have previously been given. Personally I wanted to show the world our pictures of him but appreciate this is a very personal decision.
I could still talk about him day and night so just listen, ask questions and let her talk as much as she wants to.
Don't disappear in a few months. Yes she will slowly start to function more normally in time but friends / family who assumed this meant we are 'over it' are no longer close or important people in our lives. On the upside, bonds with other friends / family have been made that will never be broken. They are the ones that have listened, held us, cried with and for us, talked about him, asked about him and made gestures to remember him in their own way
In time I can highly recommend your friend makes contact with her local Sands group whose support have been invaluable.
I am so sorry that somebody else is suffering this pain. It happens far too often. X

your a lovely friend to be thinking of her in this way. your doing all the right things, let her talk about her baby if she wants to. one of the best things I received after my daughter was stillborn was a card that said ' to commemorate the birth of your baby' it felt like someone remembered I did have a baby.

BBQSteak Sat 02-Aug-14 22:41:38

look on sands website there is asection how friends can help

for me, I lost my middle child, my first ds shortly after he was born, so similar really.

I liked/like people t use his name
never ever say anything that starts with at least...it will not go down well
remember the date and every year send a text a card or a phone call saying you remember, that will mean so much to the parents

wrt the photos I would say something alongthe lines of if you have any photos or [childs names] things you would like to show me, I would be honoured
but if you prefer not to I totally understand

then she will know your happy to share these things
but that your not pushy

follow her lead

theres a crazy poem about grief, Im going to see if I can find it

also much loved and respect to all the other mummies on this thread that have been through this devastating loss and still have the kindness to share to help others

Tell her you will remember him and then show her that you do. Don't underestimate btw how hard this is for you too. I was very much affected by the stillbirth of our friends' baby and they were not our 'best' friends at all. It is the most awful, awful thing and even some years later I can't quite believe it happened to them.

BBQSteak Sat 02-Aug-14 23:00:08

I really get this poem

its called difficult company

Hold me close and go away
Please visit me and please don’t stay
Talk to me but please don’t speak
I need you NOW – come back next week.

Emotions muddled, needs unknown
To be with others or on my own?
To scream out loud? To rant and shout?
Or hide away and push you out?

I smile at you – “She’s not that bad”
I shout at you – “She’s going mad”
I speak to you – “What do I say?”
I show my tears – “Quick, walk away”

It’s not catching, the grief I feel
I can’t pretend that it’s not real
I carry on as best I know
But this pain inside just won’t go.

So true friends, please, accept the lot
I shout, I cry, I lose the plot
I don’t know what I need today
So hold me close and go away

BBQSteak Sat 02-Aug-14 23:03:13

I like this too, although its really for people further along the shitty path xx

The ball in the bucket

Grief is like a ball in a bucket. To begin with it fills every space, and there is no room for anything else. But over time the bucket grows. It becomes a room, than a floor, then a whole house. The ball never gets any smaller, but your life grows and you have more space to move around your ball. With time there are days when you may not see the ball at all. Other days you open a door in your life and it trips you up. Some days it corners you. But with time you have more space to move the ball out of the way. Other people believe that the ball grows smaller and smaller and eventually vanishes. That is not the case. It will always be the same size.

For me, on anniversaries and similar reminders, I seek my ball out. I carry it around with me, and I hold it. they are the days I want and need my ball with me, not matter how much it hurts. And when I put it down again, it is no longer cramming into a small space, but is encompassed in my larger life that it is part of.

MillyB1981 Mon 11-Aug-14 22:32:26

I lost my little boy Sebastian 10 days before he was due to be born. I knew something was wrong but to cut a long story short he could have survived had it not been for mistakes that were made. I was sent home to come back two days later when I should have had an emergency c section. Two days later he died when they did a scan his heart had stopped. It's been nearly three years now and I am still scarred by it. I lost the plot, drank a lot at night to help me sleep and couldn't feel. Hated pregnant women and friends who went on to take their baby home when all I got was a box of memories of a child I never even got to hear. My partner left me after a miscarriage post Sebastian, he just walked out and I never saw him again. My friends were vital to me but often I just wanted to talk of Seb Andy anger. Sometimes I just wanted to be on my own. There is no right or wrong way to act, just be there really. One of my friends was with me when I had to give birth to Sebastian knowing he had gone. We are still close now but I will say our friendship has gone back to the light hearted fun it was but she was there when it mattered and took the rough with smooth. Your friend will never get over this. But she will get stronger. You sound like a good friend. She will need that xx

MillyB1981 Mon 11-Aug-14 22:33:18

* and my anger

Rooflesstoofless Sat 16-Aug-14 08:00:37

Milly, so sorry to hear your ex left in that way flowers

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