“I’m six weeks pregnant, and I’m feeling a bit weird,” I whispered.
“Actually, so am I, but I haven’t told anybody!” my friend whispered back. And we were both so happy.
And then the next time we met, I’d had a miscarriage, and I wasn’t pregnant any more… and my friend still was…
If you’ve ever found yourself in this kind of situation, you’ll know how extremely painful it can be!
Sometimes friendships don’t survive this kind of thing. And it’s not because we don’t care for that person any more – it’s just because it’s too overwhelming a reminder of what we’ve lost. You can actually see it unfolding over time, before your eyes, as your friend’s baby grows inside her.
My friend and I were both part of a group which met regularly, and stopping being part of this group didn’t really feel like an option for me. And I didn’t want to stop seeing my friend either.
But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t extremely tough.
I used to feel really sad and hurt. It actually felt like a physical pain.
And a part of me was really envious.
And I was anxious that I might be making her feel uncomfortable, and spoiling her enjoyment of being pregnant. And perhaps my being there was preventing her from expressing any concerns or difficulties that she might be experiencing, amongst our group of friends, and getting their support.
And I felt like a failure, and as if my poor baby had been a failure too. And it also felt so extremely unfair!
And lots of these emotions felt complicated and a little bit yucky. It’s not that I wanted something bad to happen to my friend – far from it! But I didn’t like the way I felt, and some of these emotions made me feel bad about myself too, and that made it all even harder.
If you’re experiencing anything like this, it can be helpful to remember some of these things:
1. Try not to beat yourself up for how you're feeling
Don’t blame yourself if you have a complicated mixture of emotions. It’s not your fault, and you can’t control it. Try not to judge yourself harshly for how you’re feeling. It’s all completely natural, and you’re not doing any of it deliberately.
2. Remember that you're grieving
Have compassion for what you’re going through. Losing a baby is very upsetting, and you’re going through a grieving process, and this isn’t quick. Research in the United States has shown that most women do not begin to feel back to “normal” again after a miscarriage for at least four months, and it can be much longer than that.
So don’t expect yourself to be able to bounce back again immediately. It’s completely normal to continue to feel upset.
3. If it's too hard to spend time with your friend, that is OK
You might think that you have to keep spending time with her, as if nothing had happened. But if this is too painful, it really is OK not to. Your friend wouldn’t want you to be suffering a lot, and the chances are she may well understand, and not take it too personally. Unfortunately, these kinds of circumstances do happen, and it isn’t anyone’s fault and no one is to blame.
4. EFT "tapping" can help to soften the pain
EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques, commonly known as “tapping”) can help to ease the pain. It’s one of the two gentle and effective self-help techniques which I use with my clients, and which they learn to use on themselves.
It doesn’t make the grief go away, but it definitely helps to reduce the painful feelings. You can use it before, during, and after any situation where you might find yourself experiencing strong or upsetting emotions.
There are many social occasions when I’ve used “tapping” on my hands, very surreptitiously, and no-one ever knew I was doing it! – and it always helped me to feel better able to cope with the situation I found myself in. And it’s something which you could try too.
5. Be kind and gentle with yourself
Above all, remember to take lots of kind and gentle care of yourself. Remember that you’re grieving, and that this is tiring, and it’s not a quick process. Have lots of compassion for what you’re going through and don’t force yourself to spend time with your friend if that’s too much for you. EFT “tapping” might help to ease the pain for you. And if you would like any support, wherever you are in the world (using Skype and Facetime) do please be in touch.
Take very good care of yourself, and I’m wishing you all the very best.
~ Rosalind xxx