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My second child and our first daughter, Camille, died and was born on June, 30 2011 when I was full term at 38 weeks pregnant. I gave birth to my rainbow baby, a second daughter, on August 31, 2012. This is me trying to figure out how to be a mother to my living son and daughter and function in society after our tragic loss.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where Did My Friends Go?

I told my friends off yesterday. I sat them down and I asked them why the fuck they didn't show up for me. I said "my daughter died and no one came over to my house, I got a couple of phone calls and some text messages...but I have known you for 20 years and I really expected more from all of you. Why didn't you show up at my house? MY DAUGHTER DIED! I am broken and hurting and desperate. WHERE WERE YOU?"

Well I told all of that to the mirror. I fantasized about being able to communicate the pain I feel and how hurt I was by their inaction. I was crying to myself in the mirror.

I have always been the super honest type. No one has to guess what I am thinking or how I am feeling. One of the things I have been learning over the past 20 years is tact. I am way better about choosing my words and being more delicate while still speaking my mind. BUT....my daughter died and I had to give birth to her . There is nothing more terrifying or life changing that I can think of. Now I am in this space that feels like I just can't open myself to more hurt. I hate having to ask for something I want with tears and then getting pity and an actual response that was prompted by complaining. I shouldn't have to and yet I feel bitter that my needs are not being met by the individuals I thought would be forever by my side. Some of these same friends have done lovely things like let us stay in their homes while they are away so we could get out of our space and spend time somewhere else. I totally appreciate it...BUT does that mean that I have to acquiesce there inability to participate in my grief. Does that mean that they gain acquittal from showing up emotionally for me.

Or am I just a crazy, angry dead baby mama who is so raging about so many things that I am trying to fire off in every direction possible hoping I will be able to destroy something because I hurt so much from my own destruction. My friends are all living smugly in their charmed lives where their own personal tragedy has not yet reached in to twist their heart and rip their soul to shreds. I wish my dear friends had even an inkling of the pain my heart and mind are in on a daily basis. I am tired of making excuses for people. I know people don't know what to say. I used to be one of them. This doesn't really make me feel more forgiving...although it should.

In all of my anger I have this to say:

And then when I breathe and try and become calm and remind myself....breathe in positivity, breathe out sadness. Breathe in peace, breathe out badness. Breathe in love, breathe out madness.
I come to this place:

But this makes me so sad. I am filled with so much sad from so many places. It's almost easier to be angry. Because I love these people....maybe that is why it hurts so much. I guess I believed I would be surrounded by certain people and the actuality is that there is love...I know there is, but it is from different people. I am so grateful for this love but it doesn't make me want it from the people I expected to get it from less. Did you know my father hasn't called me once since Camille died...and he has had a son die...he should know. Maybe it is too painful for him, maybe he is like my husband and doesn't feel the pain as acutely. My brothers, don't call, my friends, don't call...I don't know...I just know I feel let down. The truth is the loss and pain is only because of the expectation. My expectations are what make me sad about the inaction. The expectation is an imposed ideal. I am a very loyal friend, I go out of my way to bring joy and love to those I love. In all honesty it is not a new experience to feel let down. I know it is my expectations that lead me to this place. If I can let those expectations go...will I feel less bitter. Will that tiny evil part of me go away that wishes others could have a piece of this pain so they would understand better? This is such an uncomfortable place to be... all these unresolved anxious, unwanted feelings.

I know I am not alone, but sometimes I feel very lonely.


  1. Renel, I am so very sorry for all the ways people have let you down. My heart is breaking for you. Your father? I'm shocked. I'm here for you. This community is here for you. It isn't the same, I know, but it is something.

    Hugs to you.

  2. Wouldn't it be nice if we could actually sit down and tell our so called friends what we're actually thinking?

    You, my friend, sound like you have reached the angry phase of grief and it's a bitch. I remember being SO angry about everything, every little thing, especially what my friends did or not do.

    I've been where you are... not that you want someone else's kid to die, but you just want them to know how terrible you feel and to actually feel that terrible, too. Heck, some days I still feel that way. I don't wish harm to other people, but I just want them to really know what I am feeling, what it feels like to be in our shoes.

    My anger phase lasted a long time--and some days it still comes back--but I'd say, vent most of it out on your blog and to the mirror and maybe don't say it all out loud to your friends. Once the angry phase passes (and it will, I promise), you'll see how sad and angry you are and you may (or may not) feel differently about a few things... so, my suggestion would be get the anger out, but maybe save the really bad stuff for the mirror and your blog :)

    Hang in there. The angry phase sucks. It hurts and takes a lot out of you, but sadly, it's just one of those phases we have to make it through.


  3. I feel like this is the song of all of our hearts. Why didn't you do more? Why didn't you come to be with me? Why didn't you sacrifice something while I was swallowed in pain?

    I was JUST talking with some close BLMs about this issue. We struggle with how people treat us or how people don't treat us at all (by avoidance). All we want is a quiet shoulder and it seems so difficult for so many.

    I've learned to write off friendships pretty easily these days. To me, it's the most accurate test of their willingness to abide with me. Most have failed. While I'm sad, I'm more sad that my son died and I miss him. I'm more sad about him being gone then them being gone. If he and his memory is not worth it to them, then they are not worth it to me.

    I am not sure my angry stage is over and I'm just shy of a year.

  4. Renel, I feel for you. I think that excuse that people give ("they don't know what to say") is lame. Of course they don't know what to say. No one knows what to say. I'm going through the same damn thing and I don't know what to say to you now, but at least I'm saying SOMETHING.

    I guess most people don't realize that we'd rather hear the wrong thing than nothing at all. It helps just to know that somebody cares, that somebody besides us remembers our lost babies.

    I agree with Kate - sounds like you're going through an angry phase. Maybe don't confront your friends right now, but confront your mirror and rage on your blog all you want. You can decide later if you want to keep them around or write them off.

    That being said - I think in times like these, we learn who our true friends are. Those who have come over and somehow magically known whether I needed them to be peppy and tell me about their day or whether I needed them to just sit with me and be a quiet shoulder for my grief - they're the keepers.

    Sending you all my love and support. My heart goes out to you.

  5. I think we all have friends that let us down after our babies die. It still surprises me, 14 months later, who is willing to speak Aiden's name and acknowledge his existence and who is not. On Aiden's first birthday 2 of my closest friends completely disappeared. I still haven't spoken to either of them. As time goes on people in our lives become less and less sensitive to our loss. They don't feel the pain on a daily basis and they seem to forget about our grief.

    It sucks and I'm so sorry you feel alone. Please know that you aren't. xo

  6. I guess we are all feeling some of the exact same things.
    Renel, my Dad has yet to call me. Outside of the brief moment where I called him from the hospital and he left me a message on Facebook, we have had no communication. I really can't believe that one! I don't know why he is doing that but I refuse to call him first. And here is my f bomb for the day, FUCK him. I hate that we have to feel this way about people who we truly care about. My Mom calls but she is so awkard, I really don't want to talk to her. My oldest brother has talked to me twice and my youngest, not even once. I have never even heard from him. Granted we all live in different states but how hard is it to mail a card or pick up a phone???
    I know it doesn't help much when we so want someone from our real world to be there, but you have all of us. Heck if you want to talk on the phone, I would be more then happy to answer. If you ever feel like it, email me, I will send you my number. We don't have to go through this alone, because like Sonny and Cher said, I got you babe.
    Lots of love your way,

  7. I was amazed to see how my friends reacted after Gabrielle passed away... just like your experience - a few test messages and maybe a few comments but nothing much since. A few friends have been great... but most didn't know what to say or do. This journey is so so isolating and lonely... I've often wanted to say to them what you said at the start of your post... but chickened out and have just withdrawn from them. It is so heartbreaking but having superficial friendships is also so hollow after losing a child. My heart goes out to you and know that I'm thinking of you with all my heart xoxo

  8. I lost my very best friend of 25 years. In each other's weddings, there for every huge milestone (she was even at Hope's fucking birth) then....gone. It was messy and ugly and words were said, but I'm better off without her. I've been through worse. If I can live without my daughter, I can live without her.
    And.... what Brianna said.

  9. Yes, I have felt this rage too. I'm afraid it comes with our territory. During my most rage-filled stage (about three months after Elizabeth died) I was terrified I would actually physically assault someone.

    And I really really love the first postcard - "The reason I swear so much is because Fuck You" - I hear him saying it in an offhand French accent. Excellent.

  10. Oh, it sucks doesn't it? As if there isn't enough to mourn. I haven't seen one of my oldest and closest friends since Joseph's funeral in March. She's texted about 3 times saying "let me know when you're ready for a catch up". She's a plan ahead girl, you've got to book her in weeks in advance which I'm just not in a position to do. The last message I said I just don't know when, life is really, really hard. Like, make the fucking effort will you. I found out she has anxiety issues (hence the controlling, planning ahead) amoung marriage issues. I said to our other friend (who, by the way is the only person who has made an effort and been able to abide with me), that now I feel really bad. Maybe I should make the effort with her, because she's probably freaking out with her anxiety about what to say/not to say etc. But, my other friend had a good point - "fuck her!, Joseph died and you lost your womb, get over your anxiety and do some bloody research on supporting a friend in grief". Fair point I thought. It's the first thing I would do if they situation were reversed. I don't want to see her now because I wouldn't have the guts to tell her all of this and then there would be unspoken stuff sitting between us.
    I want to go to yoga then coffee with you even more now Renel. We all here need each other so much and if this is the only way to support each other then so be it. I just wish it was all so much easier for you and all of us.

  11. I always say that if I can learn to live without my son, then I can certainly learn to live without sh*tty friends. But yes, it definitely is bull. Loss after loss after loss. Does it ever end? Hugs. I may be stealing your photo for my FB page, btw. About their part in your story being over. Beause I feel so strongly about that. More hugs to you. ~Lindsay

  12. I basically have kept my friendships based on if they were there for me when I needed them to be or not. But I know that sometimes it's not fair. Sometimes, I know that no matter what nothing will ever be enough. For one, it won't bring my son back, but no matter what someone does or how they are there for me, it doesn't change that they didn't suffer the loss I did - and they just don't know. It's not fair to them, but I sometimes can't help it. I want more of my friends, but it's because I just want my son back. Since having Cale's brother - I've even had a hard time accepting words of congratulations from people if they didn't say or do enough when Cale died. For me, people aren't allowed to share in my joy if they can't be bothered to share in my grief.

  13. I'm sorry that you've been let down by people in your life. It sucks. I don't have many of the friends I had pre-loss and it hurt for a long time. Now, not so much. I can't say when or how it changed, but it did. It changed how I feel about friendships - now I think of people as acquaintances and don't have much expectation of people anymore. I hope that doesn't sound too depressing, but I guess that's how I've coped.

    I'm so sorry, again, about all the loss, hurt and disappointment. Sending love.

  14. I had dinner with 2 of my friends last night... but once I got home, the crying quickly followed... not one mention of my baby. Not so much as a "How are you?" Somehow, they felt comfortable chatting about their babies in front of me (and therefore totally excluding me from the conversation). I'm sick of making excuses for people - it was just plain rude, insensitive and tactless.
    I'm sick of loss... my baby, my friends, my normal life... when will it ever end?
    So yeh, I get the rage - I'm just so sorry that so many of us feel like that.

  15. I'm sorry that you've been let down by your friends and by your family. I know I was particularly hurt by family members who didn't talk about her, even though some of them were there when she died. It just feels like an additional loss, an additional pain to bear on top of a pain that is already unbearable. To lose your friends and I'm particularly sorry to hear about your father and your brothers. I know my dad finds it difficult to talk about my daughter's death and he has said some very hurtful things. It seems to hurt more coming from family for some reason, perhaps because I know he loves me and that he loved her but still thinks that saying those things (or saying nothing) isn't going to hurt me?

    And yes, what Brianna said. xo

  16. I'm so sorry that so many people in your life are letting you down. I know it's not a consolation, but one thing I continue to learn, ten months out, is that I continue to meet and grow closer to people who have come into my life since Eliza's death and because of Eliza's death. It doesn't make any of the rest of it okay, but it is easier to bear the fact that one of my best friends is nervous and awkward around me because I've developed a support system of people who actually get what I'm going through.

    I've grieved so much for the "other version" of my life, but I'm finding now that although I continue to grieve for my daughter, the person that I am now, and the friends I have now, are not so bad at all. Some friends have grown closer, others have faded away (and yeah, there's some rage there, but it's faded to a tired kind of disdain). Life will never be what it was, but it won't suck forever as much as it does right now.

  17. I am so sorry that you are feeling hurt and let down right now. It's not too much to expect the people around you to visit and ask how you are doing. But this kind of loss is one of the few that no one talks about. Because we don't want to live in a world where babies die.

    As a result, people don't know how to act. They feel uncomfortable so they do nothing. Not realizing that doing nothing is far more hurtful than just being there and saying sorry or giving us a hug.

    So I'm sending out a hug from far away and want you to know I'm so sorry you now find yourself in the company of so many of us who have lost our babies. I am missing Camille with you.

  18. I've read through a few of your older posts and I could relate to an awful lot of what you write - and I got this post. I have one friend who stuck with me. She was my doula at Emma's birth and has effortlessly done and said the "right" things. Three years out, I don't even miss the others any more - I'm still too busy missing my daughter, tbh.

    Oh - and angry. I spent a good two years at angry. It surprised me.

    I am sorry Camille died and you find yourself in this part of the internet. It's wonderful and supportive and we all wish there was no need of it.

  19. I've been reading this post since you published it, and I am really, really sorry about your stupid friends.

    Sorry, I know they're not stupid. But that really sucks. I got to the point where I don't expect anything from anyone, and then I don't get disappointed. Like Brianna said, it's not the same, but you know we're all here for you, right? I just wish I lived closer to you so I could bring you some coffee and muffins and give you a hug.

    But that sounded weird, so I'll just say this: you are not alone. Thinking about you, friend.

  20. I just came across your blog, I am so sorry for your loss. Camille is a beautiful name. I really understand the let down of others especially my family. Just know you are not alone. xo

  21. I have been following your blog for a bit now but never commented.
    The love that you have for your sweet baby girl is amazing and I am truly sorry she is not with you.
    I have not lost a baby but I wish I had the strength to sit my husbands family, a few of his so called "best buds", and a list of my friends down and just let them have it! I would love to scream the words f you until I was blue in my face!
    I don't get how nobody on this list could step up and take any responsibility...I guess it's just easier for them to sit on the sidelines...it sucks!
    I havent built to many new friends along the way...not alot of trust there.
    I will continue to fight for my man and everything that he is even if people ditch us along the way!
    Will be praying for you!


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