Thursday, October 4, 2007

On joy and grief

Recently we were thrilled to hear from our dear friends that they were expecting their second child. They had always wanted to have another baby, and she had been extra responsible in working to get as healthy as possible before trying. They were waiting to share the news with family until after a long-awaited trip.

My friend and I talked about the baby and how she wanted another girl. We talked about names and clothes and breastfeeding. She was planning how to make life with a new baby work for their family.

Sunday night she called me. I felt something was different from her greeting. And when she started to talk, I knew what she was going to say. I wanted to not hear it, but I knew.

They lost the baby.

At ten weeks pregnant people say things that they think will be comforting, but they aren't. The body knows when something isn't right. Women who are much farther along lose babies and it's harder when you're farther along. You can try again soon. At least it happened now and not later.

My friend summed it up with, "No one writes a eulogy for a ten-week-old fetus."

We met for lunch this week and she is holding up well. She has a tempest of emotion though bubbling beneath the surface. She confessed that she didn't know what was the appropriate way to grieve for her situation. A close friend of hers had lost a year-old child. So does that make it wrong for her to grieve as much as her friend did?

For all of her strength and toughness, she has the tender heart of a mother. I cannot say I know how she feels to have lost a baby, but I know the love of a mother's heart. It doesn't matter to a mother how old her child is, the loss is devastating. God willing, she will never have to experience something like this again, but that is the only way any of us can know the difference.

How can anyone say whether it's harder to lose a child you have held and kissed or the baby who is still physically part of your body and sharing your blood. This unborn blessing holds all the dreams of family and friends. The potential for anything was there, but is now gone.

I tried to comfort my friend as best I could. I didn't want to offer empty platitudes and generic tidings of sympathy. So I tried to explain to her what I wrote here, that her journey is her journey. She can only know what she feels right now, and God willing, she will never have a basis for comparison. But she can't worry if her grief is appropriate to others who only saw a fetus. She is grieving for a child, a confidant for her daughter, and a dream of infinite possibilities.

As her friend, I want to comfort her. As a person, I hope it never happens to me. But as a mother I grieve too.

1 comment:

adrienne said...

Hi IW-

I've had a friend with a similar experience here in the last year. It's especially tough as almost everyone in our group is pregnant or giving birth as this mother mourns.

I'm glad she has a friend like you nearby. Grief needs to be shared- it reminds the primary mourners that the life had value and meaning no matter how short its duration.