July 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

How Can I Help My Friend Grieve?

Editor’s Note: Please enjoy this relatively new addition to The Jewish Link. We hope the Dear Gabby column will enable people to share things that are on their minds that may be difficult for them to communicate with family and friends. All letters will remain anonymous. Rest assured that submissions that are inappropriate will not be printed. Feel free to send your letters to [email protected].

My problem may not be so uncommon. It is just so confusing to me and therefore difficult for me to decide what to do. Recently (five months ago), my husband and I were blessed with our first child, a delicious little girl.

Naturally, the excitement around her arrival was euphoric for all of her first-time grandparents, aunts and uncles and ourselves.

My closest friend was expecting her first child two months after we were due. We spent much time talking about the way that our babies were going to have play dates and hopefully be as close to one another one day as we have been with each other. Neither of us knew in advance what the sex of our children would be. Lo and behold, Melissa (not her real name) gave birth to a stillborn baby. The grief that we all felt for her was choking. In this case there was no celebration, only feelings of despondence.

I immediately went to her to try to comfort her. I could sense that suddenly there was a wall between us. Now that some time has gone by it is difficult for me to see her or spend time with her without bringing my precious daughter. Are you able to guide me as to the best way to handle such a complicated situation?

Many thanks.

Sad Friend

Dear Sad Friend:

The “wall that sprang up” between you and Melissa was her terror at being reminded of the loss and emptiness that she is feeling now. Obviously she has reason to feel that horror. It would be no different if one of you had a severely ill child. The children had been playmates and one day one of them was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Suddenly you were faced with spending every waking minute tending to this child while your friend went on living her normal life—going to the park, rushing to do errands, taking care of the mundane issues which life entails. At no time was your concern for each other any less than it had been in the past. However, suddenly an invisible wall was erected between you. Neither had experience in dealing with this type of issue in the past. Some never have to encounter these challenges. It is imperative that you do everything possible to reach out to Melissa as much as you can. It does not have to be overt. If and when you really feel as though she cannot handle being with you, give her the space that she needs. However, do not remove yourself from her psyche. Call her and leave a message. Bring over a food item. Send her a card. Gradually you will see that hopefully she will be able to reconnect. Although we often are not interested in acknowledging it, time does make a significant difference in how we react to situations. There are many injustices in life that overwhelm us. The case you mention is one that usually faces us when we are younger and totally unprepared for such a tragedy. True friends are forever when it rains and when the sun shines. If you feel that the door on your friendship is closed do not give up. It will reopen in time. Melissa is fortunate to have a friend who is as caring and concerned as you are. Give her the time to come back to you in her daily life.

Gabby is a pseudonym for a PhD psychologist whom we have asked to answer several questions for Jewish Link readers. Based on interest, Gabby is open to continuing the column. Questions can be asked anonymously to [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles