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Rebuilding A Friendship
Written by Clara Hinton   |  Jan 13, 2002
When a couple experiences child loss, there is no question about it. They are changed people. They talk about different things than before their child died. They stay home a lot more, often not wanting to go out among big crowds of people. What used to make them laugh, no longer seems funny. They are just different people, and often friendships become strained because of the very apparent changes that occur.

Child loss hurts a heart, and the pain is a relentless type of hurt that doesn’t want to go away. This causes changes in thinking and changes in priorities. Often, these changes put a strain on friendships, even ones that were very close before the death of the child. Couples often sit in silence no longer knowing how to enjoy each other’s company. Communication breaks down, and it is difficult to find things to talk about. Many times the end result is that the couples drift apart. The grieving couple is often left asking the question, “Where are my friends?” (Silent Grief, Chapter 3)

It is very common for friendships to drift apart after one of the couples has gone through the devastation of child loss. There is a fear that the wrong thing will be said, adding to the parents’ burden of grief. There is an awkward feeling of not knowing what to say. And, there is the truthful fact that life does keep moving along for others. There are carpools and ball games. There are orthodontic appointments and music lessons. The routine of everyday living resumes normalcy very quickly for all except the grieving parents who have to live daily with the gnawing pain of child loss.

Several months following the death of a child, sensitivity seems to penetrate the hearts of friends, though, and they begin feeling very ashamed for pulling away from the family in grief. There is a growing sense of wanting to enjoy the company of good friends once again. So…what should a friend who has pulled away do?

The worst thing to do is to do nothing. So many times friends will say, “Too much time has gone by. I am so ashamed for not being a friend. I could never face them again. What would I say after all of these months?”

“I’m sorry,” is always a good beginning. By explaining that you truly hurt over the loss and you had no idea what to say, you will immediately open up lines of communication between friends. Make a casserole and hand deliver it with a hug. Send flowers with a note that simply says, “Forgive me for not showing how much I care,” then follow through with a phone call.

Many times you don’t have to say a word. Just be there. Your presence will speak volumes of love. It is never too late to show that you care!

If you have been a friend who has backed away out of fear, just be honest enough to say what happened. Grieving parents need friends, especially their close friends. Have enough courage to show your love. Have enough love to simply say, “I care.” When you make the first move, you will be amazed at the positive response you will receive. And, you will help your friends move forward in the most difficult journey they will ever have to face—child loss.
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