Do you ever dread making friends because you feel you have to out of obligation? I call this group of people “friends of circumstance.” This group of people forms friendships simply because of a single connection. Sometimes deep, meaningful relationships blossom from the initial encounter and reasoning, but many times the interactions are simply surface. Even if you look forward to these new connections, you fully comprehend that the beginning link in your relationship chain was a forced one.
“Sports moms” come to mind. My mom was one of these for pretty much my entire life growing up. I watched her make friends with other moms simply because we spent all of our time together. Why not? A few of those women became what we all consider “best friends” with my mom, but the majority of those friendships were surface. They’ll still catch up if they see each other in a store, but the connection ends there. As a teacher, I see this with the parents of students that have been in each other’s classes since kindergarten. The kids have grown up together. The parents have too.
I honestly panicked about this a little when my oldest started daycare. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy meeting new people. I just don’t seek out new relationships as easily as I did in my youth. Luckily, it was painless, and all of the relationships have fallen into place as they should.
It is the unknown, I guess.
Maybe it’s the vulnerability and the exposed feeling that is evoked that makes my stomach churn just a little.
While raising two boys, I know that I’ll have many more of these encounters, but I don’t seem to be as affected as I was at the beginning of parenthood. Possibly that changed as my oldest grew. I might have just accepted the inevitable a little more. I think the person I am now after losing my son has played an intricate role in this as well.
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Have you ever had “friends of circumstance” instantly accept you, no questions asked?
You didn’t feel that sting of judgment the moment you showed up or opened your mouth? I am unfortunately fortunate that I have. It came after Wyatt died. I closed off everyone for a while, friend or stranger. I wasn’t ready to come to terms with my own changes and definitely not the changes in my relationships. One day, I decided that I had to try something different, so I went to a group session for parents like me. I did make instant connections with a few of those people sitting around the large table. They knew nothing about me aside from the fact that my son had died. It didn’t matter though.
That was our forced first link. Our babies died. The other stuff was irrelevant and unnecessary.
As the past four years have rolled on since the loss of our son, I have found this group of women and men to be instrumental in my grief journey. When I’m asked to meet with or reach out to another mother that has experienced loss, I don’t dread the interaction. When I’m at events with other parents in our situation, I don’t look for an excuse to avoid meeting them or talking with them. I’m there wholeheartedly, hoping that I can be to them what I found in the faces around that table four years ago. The circumstance of a child dying is not where you would likely think friendships would be made. It definitely is, though.
Related Post: The Gift Of Connection
These friendships from loss have been an unexpected blessing.
No one else gets your pain. When you do or say something that makes others flinch, those friends won’t be flinching. They’ll be holding your hand and probably doing or saying it with you.
I used to think that deep friendships only came from years of time together and having multiple common interests and mindsets. That idea is still true but it’s not the only way. I can go months without seeing or talking to someone who I have connected with because of Wyatt, and the moment we’re together, it’s as if we talk every day. We swap stories on our other children and laugh about how we might not survive them growing up. We talk about work and what new adventures we’re embarking on. Our discussion may even make its way to checking on each other’s grief.
The bond that links us is unconventional, but the connection that holds our friendship together is as pure and real as it gets.
I am a mother of 3 boys, a wife, and a teacher. Anytime I get to talk about my sweet Wyatt, I know he is smiling. I want the conversation about child loss to not be one that we are scared of. We can learn so much from each other by talking, writing, or simply just being with one another.