Redefining Friendship After Your Baby Dies

February 3, 2013
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by Lindsey Wimmer, MSN, CPNP -Executive Director, Star Legacy Foundation

Even almost eight years after my first child was stillborn, I still find myself in situations that take my breath away or leave me speechless.  One of the more difficult situations that continues is the role I now play among friends.

To those who knew me before Garrett was born, I am not the same person I used to be.  I can’t ever go back and have developed a “new normal”.  I have accepted that, but it can be hard for others to understand or accept.


To those I meet now, I am frequently trying to decide if this is someone I should tell about ALL of my children, or save them the uncomfortable feeling of telling them why I only get to raise 3 of my 4 children.  Parents who have lost a child know the look we get from strangers when we drop on them that our infant died.  They are unsure how to respond because society doesn’t let us address this topic openly or provide any guidance.  It isn’t their fault.  Yet, if I try to spare them this moment, I feel I am not being true to myself or my son.Expectant parents, whether long-time friends, family, or new acquaintances, raise another challenge.  Before I was pregnant with our second child, I know many friends who tried to hide their pregnancies from me or felt bad about telling me they were still pregnant and things were going well.  I was living proof of their worst nightmare and I’m sure they didn’t enjoy seeing me during that time.

Many of these issues continue today.  When I learn of a friend or family member who is expecting a child, I am always happy for them, but often feel obligated to encourage them to stay vigilant and do everything they can to protect their baby.

I feel like the grim reaper who always casts a dark shadow onto a happy time. 

I know I will hate myself if their pregnancy ends poorly and I didn’t tell them my story or encourage them to ask more questions about certain symptoms.  How do I balance doing everything I can to protect my friends and their children without appearing to be a bad friend who has to consider the worst case scenario?  At times I choose to put on a happy face, say congrats, and just silently cross my fingers that everything will be ok.   I am again not following my heart, but falling to societal pressures to keep my baggage to myself.

Every person, every pregnancy, every grief is different.  I now understand there is not a simple answer to these questions that are appropriate for every person or every one of their friends.  If you are grieving, tell your friends what you need from them and how they can help you.  If you are pregnant, listen to the lessons your grieving friends have learned and know that we only want to spare you the pain we have endured.  In any case, embrace your friends for who they are – baggage and all!

Click here to learn how to help when your friends baby dies.

If you know someone who has lost a child and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you’ll make them sad by reminding them the child died…they didn’t forget they died.  You’re not reminding them. What you’re reminding them is that YOU remember they lived and that’s a GREAT, GREAT gift.

~ Elizabeth Edwards


I feel like I lost my friendship with my best friend. I found out I was pregnant in March of 2012, she found out she was expecting in May of 2012. I was due December 11, 2012 and she was due January 28, 2013. So not too far from each other. Well, my pregnancy was great, my daughter was healthy and everything but my daughter was born sleeping on October 23, 2012 at 33 weeks gestation. My friend had her son in January and it feels like over those months that I didn’t talk to her I’ve let go of that friendship and gained a new friendship with my cousins wife. We’re all on Facebook and come to find out my best friend that I mentioned above, her husband unfriended me for some reason. I don’t know what to do? I haven’t talked to her or her husband since their son was born in Jan. She understood how I felt and she knew I didn’t want to be around her during the rest of her pregnancy because I didn’t want her feeling bad for me… Now I don’t know where our friendship stands…?

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