When a friend falls apart

At first, you feel shock. Massive, gut wrenching, pull your heart up into your throat shock. You don’t believe the words you are seeing, or hearing. You don’t know what to do with the information that a baby is dead. A friend’s baby. A baby you saw on Facebook the day before- happy, smiling and dribbling. Then relief. As you think of your own baby, asleep upstairs. Asleep. Then huge, deep, leg shaking relief when you pluck your warm baby from her bed and yes! she is sleeping, only sleeping.

And then.

bubblesAnd then. Then guilt. Guilt follows relief. Because your baby is alive and your friend’s baby is not. Because you were relieved that your baby is alive, and breathing and warm and real. Guilt because you no longer know how to look at your baby without feeling so lucky and so so so relieved.

And then what? And then you are lost. In a world where pain and hurt and anger and death is all around you and you don’t quite know what to do or what to say or how to say what you think you want to say. And in the end, maybe you just need to say something. Maybe you just need to be there.

Almost eight months ago, my world was a whole lot more simpler than it is today. That is not your fault; that is just how it is.

Eight months ago, I didn’t have a friend who’s baby died.

I don’t walk in your shoes, I walk beside you. If you want me to.

I don’t know, I can’t know. And I am sorry about that.

For you

If I say the wrong thing- and often I worry constantly that that is what I am doing- then please know that I am sorry. There is no rule book out there that tells you what to say or how to say it when a friend tells you her world is falling apart. There are no words to pluck from previous conversations to guide you through the torment of watching a person you care about float to the ground in tatters.

Sometimes, you want to scream and cry and shout and be angry and you think you can’t but you can. You think you’re not strong, or brave or inspirational. The people that tell you that you are, are all people like me. They are not bereaved mothers. They don’t know.  But they truly believe those things about you; those claims that you dismiss as wrong. They do not know that you aren’t strong; you’re simply existing in a world that has been created for you, despite you, in spite of you. They want you to know that they would not even be able to rise from their beds if they had to face what you face each day… but then how would they ever know that is true?

When a friend’s baby dies, the world goes a little wonky, and sometimes you stumble a little. Sometimes you fall. But you get up again. Because it’s your friend. It’s a friendship that is so important to you and because you want to help. You care. You grieve too. You stumble, but you keep going. Beside her.


37 thoughts on “When a friend falls apart

  1. You are a very special person Susanne.

    I am sure that this post was so very difficult to write. I couldn’t read it without tears.

    You have managed to put into words some of the things I think each day and can’t pin down. I’m always worried that I’m going to say or do the wrong thing, or not do or say the right thing. But I feel its more important to do or say something, than walk away, because Jennie is my friend and important to me.

    Thank you for being you xx
    Baked Potato Mummy recently posted..Flying Solo (with a Toddler)My Profile

  2. Having been through this with a friend of mine a few years ago, I do understand how you feel, and reading your post has brought the tears back. I constantly worry that I am saying or doing the wrong thing. I felt the guilt when I realised my toddler girl was still alive. I still check my girls every night before I go to sleep, wait to see their chests rising. Things changed for me too back then, and I know I can’t complain about it, at all. Emotionally but beautifully written. Hugs to both of you x
    stephstwogirls recently posted..Baking for National Cupcake Week and Macmillan CancerMy Profile

  3. Beautiful but sad words……you are a real friend and Jennie is a remarkable woman….life can be so, so cruel……..you have helped put a little sunshine back.

  4. What a post and what a horrible position to be forced into. You seem to have risen beautifully to the challenge. I have been in the same position as you and in fact tomorrow is the 9 year anniversary of the death of my friend’s 2 children. Just tragic and such mixed feelings as an onlooker. As a friend. Take care and keep be strong, I imagine you are a lifeline for Jennie.

  5. Beautiful and so sad. Your friendship is amazing – I am sure Matilda made sure her mummy had a friend that would be there for her always x

  6. This post had me in absolute tears. What an amazing, incredible friend you have been. And what an amazing inspirational woman Jennie is. I am sure you have been a pillar of strength to her – one of her constants in a wave of uncertainty, fear, anger, hurt and pain. Keep doing what you are doing and remember that she will always appreciate a true friendship like yours x

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