My Dear Sweet Mama Friend,
I see you. I see the joy radiating from your lovely smile as you eagerly embrace your precious children. You waited a long time for motherhood; I know without a doubt that you deserve this happiness. We’ve been friends for such a while, sharing in each other’s successes and failures, supporting one another, laughing together… I have always counted your friendship as one of my dearest blessings. I love you.
You were there for me in all the ways you knew how to be when I lost my baby girl and the whole world caved in around me. I remember so clearly making that phone call to you; I couldn’t let you hear of my devastation from someone else. I heard you wail your sorrow for me on the other end of the line, knowing that you felt my loss in your bones, that your soul was hurting for me. You held your own little child tighter and wished with all your heart that there was anything you could do to ease my pain.
I know that this has been difficult for you too, I do.
Then, you became pregnant with your next little miracle. Even amid my deep grief, I was so happy for you; I still am. There was hope in my heart that maybe I’d follow you soon after and we could walk that journey together. My hopes continued to turn to despair as your pregnancy progressed and I knew I wouldn’t get to share in that experience with you. I became more distant; you understood. You gave me the space I needed. You censored the excitement, anticipation, and glee you were feeling. I know that my loss has haunted you in ways I can’t imagine because it was all so close to home. I’m disappointed in myself because I haven’t been there for you like I would’ve been before my life was turned upside down.
It’s been nearly a year and a half since my baby departed this world, and in that time, so many beautiful things have happened in your life. You deserve every shred of this happiness. But little has changed in my dim existence in that same span of time. Though not a single speck of it is your fault, I find myself in pure misery as I observe your delight. It is in every way a direct contrast to my own life. I am an outsider looking in. The joys you’re experiencing are the same ones I should be feeling. Only I’m not. I’m still here, in suspended animation, aching for the same privileges you have.
I know you miss your old friend… I miss her too. I’m not the person I used to be. Grief has chiseled different features into me, scraped away some of the softness, made me more inaccessible. I have a hard time seeing past my emptiness and sadness. Sometimes, being a witness to your family life simply magnifies my grief. There are times when I dodge your phone calls, or text back instead of talking to you; sometimes, I’m just not capable of anything more. I despise myself for these behaviors, yet feel powerless to change them.
I find myself crying after many of our interactions, angry at myself for allowing the hot tears to roll down my face, wishing with all my heart I could just stop feeling the heartache and envy. How can I tell you, the friend I hold so dear, that your happiness is hard for me to see? How do I tell you that the thought of entering your happy, blessed home brings me pain? I never thought it was possible to feel genuine gladness and crippling jealousy toward someone at the same time. In my sad existence, it happens all the time. It hurts. I yearn for my own version of what you have; I just want what’s normal, like you. I detest myself every time I feel the grip of that jealousy take hold of me, but I can’t stop it.
Related: An Open Letter to My Non-Grieving Friends and Family: Why I Need Space to just Exist
I have lost many things in this life after loss; I fear I may also lose you. I believe you want me to have what you have too, and that you’ll rejoice with me if I someday gain the same blessings. For now, I know it’s frustrating. It isn’t your fault that my life has become a nightmare, any more than it is mine. It isn’t your fault that the thought of holding your baby gives me severe anxiety. It’s not your fault that you’ve continued to reach out to me and that I can’t always return the effort. It isn’t your fault that I’ve isolated myself from you and your sweet family because I’m afraid to put a damper on y08our contentment. You aren’t to blame for any of this and I am so sorry.
I hate the way things are, and I miss you dearly. I wish for so many things… I wish my daughter could have been friends with your children. I wish we could’ve planned our kiddos’ birthday parties together, share hand-me-downs, had play dates. I wish I didn’t feel this way. I miss all the memories we haven’t had the chance to make and all the things that may never be.
Thank you for loving me and striving to understand me as I navigate my life after loss. I wish I didn’t have to ask for more patience from you, but I must. I hope you know in your heart that I love and admire you and I cherish your friendship. I hope that someday, things will be as they ought to between us again. Until then, thank you for not giving up on me.
Your Bereaved Mama Friend
Jessica Orlaske is the mother of beautiful little Lucy Rose, whom she was only able to spend a precious day with after suffering a placental abruption. Though the loss of Lucy has transformed her life into one of heartache and challenges, Jessica continues to search for Lucy’s light in all things and find ways to honor her sweet daughter with love and kindness. She has found healing through writing and sharing her story with others.