It’s Not Only My Dead Child I Miss…

April 12, 2016

This is a post I could only ever really write for Still Standing Magazine. The reason being that I can dispense here, to some degree, with explaining. I am always careful when I write to do so in a way that is inclusive. I don’t want to abandon myself on that spit of land the baby bereaved know well.  Here, I am safe and understood.

I want to talk about the secondary losses that so often occur– in the form of friendships.

There, I said it.

The secondary losses break my heart too.

Since the death of my baby, I have lost so many friends. I miss them. I miss that rich knowledge of me – my old friends. This is something of a traumatic life change in and of itself.

When a baby dies, certainly that is the molten lava trauma. The thing that for years out steals your breath and stops you in your tracks.

But gosh, how I do also miss these people who knew before I lost him.

I was recently at a gathering where I saw one of these people – someone whom I considered to be a very close friend. Now that I can look back with more objectivity than I could have at the time of my loss, I can see that there is a case to be made that I hurt people. She was probably among them. I wish there was a way to restart our friendship.

I wish that the responsibility I may bear in part could be forgiven.

Because the magnitude of my loss was just so great. I could not see clearly. I was so sad. I was so mad. I wish that people could meet me halfway – or walk it back as it were.

Standing on that lawn at this party – I said to my old friend – something along the lines of how nice it would be to get together. She instantly looked away. She spoke about how busy she was. I knew that she did not mean to brush me off. I had to look away as well because I missed her still.

I knew that she was hurt at what she perceived to be my rebuffing of her efforts to help me.I wish I had the strength to see efforts to support me then with the intention that backed them. I simply was trying to breathe, and being gracious in the process of doing so was so difficult then.”

I wish, though, that those who love the bereaved would try to stay longer and listen harder…to know that grief makes people lash out. I never meant to hurt anyone and I know that no one meant to hurt me.

And yet there is some secret place of myself – standing on this spit of land. Between here and there. I wish we could fix what collapsed. I wish I had more friends who knew me before the seismic shift of loss took place.

Some would say perhaps that they were not really my friends after all.
But they were.
I know they were.
And I miss them.


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    Tara Shafer

    Tara Shafer is the co-founder of Reconceiving Loss, an online resource center for people coping with the loss of a pregnancy or an infant. Her blog about baby bereavement, To Begin Again, appears on Psychology Today. She has worked as a human rights and refugee advocate for numerous organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights First. She has taught in the Department of Political Science at Marist College. Her work on loss has appeared in Fifth Wednesday Journal, Yahoo Shine, the Huffington Post, and on National Public Radio. For further information please visit Reconceiving Loss


    • Catherine Meinecke

      April 12, 2016 at 11:51 am

      This is very true, and time allows you to step back and see. Honestly for me the other part of it was that it hurt to be with people who knew me before my son died. I am so different now. Some changes were good. The person I am now is more wise and understanding. I get it in so many ways I did not before, but I miss the old carefree person who I used to be. For many years I thought it was everyone else. Now I see it was also me. It was hard to be around people who could see the changes because then I saw them more clearly. I am so lucky to have a few people who had the staying power to wait me out. But I miss the others and wish I could get that back now that being around them does not hurt so bad. If that makes sense.

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