My How Friends Change

Welcome to the August 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Friends This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about friends. ***
I remember a long time ago receiving a phone call from a dear friend. At this time I was recently married and had moved away to a different state. This friend called to tell me she had a miscarriage. I didn't know how to handle the news, I avoided calling her, I felt awful, but didn't know how to address the situation. As a result, I lost that friendship. I look back and feel pretty awful about the kind of friend I ended up being. I wasn't supportive, I wasn't there for her. As a result, we lost touch and aren't in each other's lives. I've tried to find her since then and I haven't had any success in locating her. I'd like to apologize for my behavior. I'd like to tell her that I didn't know how to handle her loss at that time. I'd like her to know I've learned a lot since then. In recent times the situation has been turned. Initially with the chronic diagnosis of my middle daughter, her death 16 months later, then with the sudden death of my husband, my true friends have revealed themselves. For many people, loss makes them feel uncomfortable. They are afraid they will say the wrong things, they have their own fears in relation to loss and grief. It may be hard to handle when people we considered close friends start to ignore us when our life is in such turmoil. It's easy to feel offended, but it really doesn't do any good. If it makes you feel better, write a letter. Share your anger, your frustrations and your feelings over their lack of support. Then whatever you do, DON'T send it. The letter will be purely for your benefit. Emotionally they may have checked out of your relationship, but you don't need to play a part in the disconnect. Hopefully they will have a change of heart and become supportive in the future. For myself, I didn't know how to be truly supportive to others through their losses until I had experienced some loss myself. Don't give up hope, there are friends and family members that will stick with you throughout your grief. They'll be there with your ups and downs. These are the friends to hold close. I've lost friends and family members because of the loss we've experienced. They have allowed, for the time being, fear and denial to be their friends. Their perspective may change, as mine did. Death can bring out the best and worst in people. New friends will reveal themselves and people that you thought would be there, will fail in your eyes. It's all part of the grief, it's another loss. Pity parties won't do us any good, keep your chin up and thank God for the friends that are there for you. So if you have a friend that is dealing with grief, be there. If you don't know what to say, give them a hug. Say something, do something. Let them know you are there even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Talk about the person that has passed. It's nice to know that you are not the only one that still remembers them. Many people make the mistake of thinking they can't mention the deceased. How silly, we didn't forget they died. It's nice to know that others didn't forget either. Send a text, write an email, make a phone call. Send flowers. Bring a meal. Take out their trash. Just set next to them. Grief is exhausting. If they are a parent, offer to let them take a nap while you watch the kids. It's not what you do that is so important, it's the fact that you are there. As for the friends and family that stood by your side through thick and thin. Be ever so grateful for their presence in your life. For the most part, I've learned to be thankful for all of my friends throughout my life. We were friends for a purpose, even if it was for a short time that gave me a few smiles. I've learned to really cherish my friends. I have some pretty spectacular friends, thank you to all of you!! Have you lost friends while going through a particularly stressful situation? How did you deal with it?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon August 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Sibling Revelry — At Natural Parents Network, Amy W. shares her joy in witnessing the growth of the friendship between her two young children.
  • Making New Mama Friends — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses on how she was able to connect with like-minded mamas and form deep friendships both in 'real life' and online. Learn how these life-long friendships, both between Jennifer and other mothers but also between Jennifer's daughter and the other children, formed and flourished.
  • Family, Friends and Family Friends — Vidya Sury at Vidya Sury, Going A-Musing, Collecting Smiles is reflecting on family friendships, past and present.
  • Arranging friendships in a modern world — From a free-range childhood to current parenthood, how can an introvert like Lauren at Hobo Mama navigate the newly complicated scheduling of playdates and mom friends?
  • Mommy Blogs: Where Moms Make Friends — Mothers make friends with other mothers in new ways. The options from earlier decades remain, but new avenues have sprung up with mommy bloggers. Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence shares her thoughts.
  • Friendship and Sacrifice: Guardians of the Galaxy — Shay at 4HisGlory learned that friendship lessons can be found in unlikely places, like blockbuster summer movies.
  • Friendship - Finding, Forming, Keeping, and WishingLife Breath Present's thoughts on finding, forming, keeping, and wishing for friendships as an introvert.
  • Consciously Creating My Community: Monthly Dinners — How have you intentionally created community? Dionna at Code Name: Mama's goal for the year is to cultivate community. One way she's done that is to help organize two different monthly dinners with friends.
  • Adults need imaginary friends, too — Tat at Mum in Search shares why it's a good idea for adults to have imaginary friends. You get to meet Tat's friend and download a playbook to create your own.
  • Friends Near, Friends Far — Kellie at Our Mindful Life helps her kids keep in touch with friends 600 miles apart.
  • Which comes first, social skills or social life? — Jorje of Momma Jorje frets about whether her daughter can learn social skills without experience, but how to get good experience without social skills.
  • Snail Mail Revival — Skype isn't the only way to stay in touch with long distance friends, That Mama Gretchen and her family are breaking out the envelopes and stamps these days!
  • Montessori-Inspired Friendship Activities — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares a roundup of Montessori-inspired friendship activities for home or classroom.
  • How I used the internet to make local friends — After years of striking out at the park, Crunchy Con Mom finally found some great local friends . . . online!
  • My How Friends Change — Erica at ChildOrganics knows entirely too much about how to comfort a friend after a loss.

10 comments

Loss can be so difficult from the outside looking in. As a woman and a mama, I'm wired to want to help, to make things better, but that is impossible when you're dealing with the loss of a loved one. Thank you for the reminders. And I know I've said this before, but I'll say it again and know I really mean it - I'd love for our families to get together to camp and hang out again soon. I know we're far apart in distance, but I'm totally willing to be a long-distance friend :)

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Thank you so much for sharing such an uplifting view on difficult stories. I had a miscarriage in college and none of my friends knew how to handle that. Most of them were happy for me (with their best intentions), which was a weird, strange feeling. My mom was mad at me/disappointed for getting pregnant in the first place. I retreated and hid all my life changes at that point.

It makes me feel better to realize that the people I love have probably grown and changed since that time. Their unknowing may not persist today. Also, I am not responsible for their reactions to my life. Thank you for this really honest post. You have helped me grow :-)

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We lost a lot of friends a few years ago during a period of emotional turmoil in our lives, and it was devastating at the time to watch all our support slip away. I really appreciate your more gracious view of the situation — an explanation for why they might have felt inadequate to cope, as well as an invitation to be better friends to those in need. Thank you for sharing.

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We lost a dear friend this past fall and it's been a tumultuous season as we've tried our best to care for his wife and son while processing our own loss. Your statement that "grief is exhausting" really resonated with me. It totally is.

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Although we all "know" about grief and loss, that knowledge doesn't mean we know how to help others with their own emotions. Grief isn't predictable, nor rational, nor controllable, but it is real and sometimes just holding someone's hand or a hug is all we can manage. It just helps to know that we aren't grieving alone. Thank you for sharing!

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I think this definitely applies to the difficult diagnosis topic, as you said. When our son was diagnosed (prenatally) with Down syndrome.. people just didn't know what to say. Except people that knew someone with DS. They ALL offered phone numbers of perfect strangers, so we could call for support. We were definitely not ready for THAT, but I knew their hearts were in the right place. We were eventually ready / able to reach out to the local chapter of a larger DS organization, not quite the same thing as randomly calling up a stranger!

I think the tougher reactions were the "well if you pray really hard, the DS will go away" and "those tests are wrong all the time!" No, they're not. For us, we needed to accept it and *prepare.* We certainly didn't need it to be argued that we should terminate! Can you imagine me without my Spencer?! I can't!

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Thanks for your helpful post, Erica. Loss is definitely a difficult topic. I'm really sorry you've had to experience so much loss. It's wonderful that you're using your experiences to help others.

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Thank you Dionna! I do hope you will let us know when you come through TN again!!

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Your comment was very touching. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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First of all, NO! I can't imagine you without Spencer!
Yes, there is similar parallels to dealing with grief from the loss of a loved one to dealing with grief from receiving a life changing diagnosis, for sure!
I'm glad you were able to find support through your local DS chapter. Just recently, thanks to social media, parents of children with Walker Warburg Syndrome are finding each other and are learning so much more about what the syndrome is, and sharing it with their doctors. That kind of support is so valuable.

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