in what i now think of as my former life, i was a rich woman.  that’s how one of my exes described me, at least. “you are the richest person i know,” she once said, and i had to agree with her.  we weren’t talking about money or possessions, things that to this day mean very little to me…. we were on the subject of friends, and my circle that stretched wide across oceans and ages, languages and life experiences, was something that had always left me feeling particularly fortunate.

these days, when it comes to friends, i am on the verge of bankruptcy.  my dear, dear Pen and Spindle are still there, as are one lovely local friend, a handful of imaginary friends from forums and a few other babylost mamas. for the most part, though, i’ve been abandoned by the people i once thought of as my chosen family, and lately i find myself careening between fits of unwieldy anger and crushing bouts of hurt.

in the first few weeks following little sun’s death, Froggy and i were living in a kind of alternate universe, one where kindness and condolences seemed to flow in from everywhere.  there were cards from people we’d never met, many of them written by other mothers who had lost children and who were now reaching across the chasm of unfamiliarity to extend words of comfort to the newest members of “the club that no one wants to join.”  groups of my imaginary friends got together and sent us money and a gift certificate that allowed us to get several huge meals delivered to us during a time when cooking was impossible.  from another group of these friends, we received more money as well as necklaces with little sun’s name and birth date on them and “our little sunshine” written in each of our native languages.

about a week before i went into labor, i’d contacted Jim Loewer, a friend of a friend who is an amazing glassblower, to order a specially-made sun catcher for my little sun.  it was meant to be my first gift to my first child.  when Jim found out that we’d lost little sun, he refused my payment and sent me the sun catcher anyway. his generosity brought me to tears, and his beautiful orange and yellow creation now graces the room that was supposed to be little sun’s. it is one of several treasured memorials that strangers have made for our little boy. in the days following, little sun’s death, my sweet imaginary friend Seraf and her partner S. put together a care package of handmade goodies for Froggy and me, and it arrived just as everyone else started to disappear.

when the three bouquets of flowers sitting on our dining table had finally dried and dropped all their petals, the cards and contact began to dry up and drop off, too.  not one of the people i considered dear friends called me then, and with the exceptions of Pen, Seraf and one other skypeing friend, no one has called me in the seven months three weeks and three days since little sun died.  in the early days, i was too lost in my grief to notice or mind. once the shock had worn off, though, all that silence grew unbearably heavy.

about four months after little sun died, emails began to trickle into my inbox.  the first one was from someone who’d once offered to be a sperm donor.  he and his wife have four kids, one of whom i’d helped name, and i was more than a little surprised to see this man’s name in the sender line after so many months without contact.  i expected him to say how sorry he was or that he’d been thinking about us….i expected at least a mention of little sun and the terrible things that had happened.  instead, i got five lines of “work is great. the renovations on our house are going great, and oh, the kids are as cute as ever.”  i never responded.  it was the first of several emails on a similar theme.  none of them ever acknowledged that Froggy and i had had a child.  not one said they were sorry that we’d lost our child.  each of these emails felt glib and overly positive.  whenever possible, children and pregnancy were mentioned, and, occasionally, a photo of a smiling baby was attached.  no one spoke from the heart, and no one made an effort to tread gently.

there were also friends who started out being present, who wrote to me in the early days and who then would send me an instant message or a short email every month or so and mention little sun.  i clung to those missives as if to a life raft.  they too, however, slowly vanished, leaving me thrashing and gasping in the violently empty sea of my grief.

there have been so many other disappointments and betrayals…friendships of nearly a quarter century that are now in ruins, bridges that i consider burning but end up abandoning instead.  silences that continue despite pleas for contact…

how can i count someone as a friend when they aren’t there for me during (what i hope is) the worst time in my life?

i know that Froggy is worried about me.  she sees me crying and hears the anger and incomprehension in my voice.  she says she doesn’t want me to become a bitter, but sometimes i wonder if it’s already too late.  hardly anyone is left, and that once wide-eyed girl who looked for the good in everyone and who was ready to open her heart to almost anyone appears to be gone, too.

to quote Ani:

“i’m not listening
to you anymore. my head is too sore and my heart’s perforated and i am mired in the marrow of my
“well ain’t that funny?” bone, learning how to be alone and

i’m done waiting, and i’m done hoping.
i give up on you.


7 thoughts on “hurt

  1. Deborah

    I’m sorry you feel so abandoned by your friends. It may turn out that at this point in life, you really can only relate to people who’ve been through what you have. But it sounds like people are trying. They just don’t know what to do/say. Last week I called a good friend of 25 years who recently lost someone close to her. I really didn’t know if she’d want to talk about it or not – I figured the most important thing was to make the call, and if she wanted to bring it up, she could. We ended up talking about my baby, her recent vacation, only briefly touching on her loss. But if she’d wanted to only talk about how hard things were, that would’ve been fine too.

    Sometimes people just don’t know what would help. You may need to distance yourself for awhile, and hopefully find some people who get it. But I do hope you can rebuild these relationships with some time.

  2. alwaysmy3boys

    I’m so sorry people are such assholes. I’ve had a similar experience, though with a smaller pool to begin with. Doesn’t it just make you want to send our a mass email that simply says “go fuck yourself”? I may still be a little angry :/

    I’m glad for the good, genuine people you do have left.

    It bothers me that there are “things” that I have BECAUSE my child died.

  3. mamanfwoggie

    I totally agree with that mass frack email….so tempting…or a mass Leave us the frack alone!
    I so wish sometimes they can be in our shoes, just for one day or an hour even…
    occidental people are so mean and self-centered.
    We can be heroes, just for one day…

  4. marchisfordaffodils

    I have been hurt by friends who disappeared, too. Lately though I have been thinking more about the friends I’ve gained…the math never makes sense with all the different losses and gains in this deadbaby world, and I will never accept that the big loss at the center of it all was worth any gains, but I am enormously grateful for the friends I’ve made who walk the same path. Still, it hurts to be forgotten or brushed aside…it really really hurts.

  5. Kim

    Hello Mama. I am “new” to your blog, and unfortunately, to this community. I am sorry for the loss of your precious Sunshine. I came to you through a link from another blog of a loss Mama. This post was the second one I read (the first being of the unbirthday), and it is exactly what I needed. Recently, I have had my own bouts of unyielding anger and hurt. I always try not to let them happen…and inevitably, they come at the absolute worst times. Just within the last few weeks, I have had to pull over while driving, onto some unknown darkened street, so that I could rage in the car safely. I yelled until I was hoarse, and still it didn’t feel like enough. Of course, I tried again to find an external source to place my anger. Unhealthily. I have felt the sting of averted eyes of “friends” and even family. I have gotten the glib and overly positive remarks, time and time again, from some of the people who have been the “best, closest people” to me. And it only proved to be even more maddening. I appreciate your candor in this post. I appreciate the sharing of your honest anger. I feel like there is just as much a double standard for me as there is my husband. It must appear that he has to “be the strong one” and cannot feel or express his loss, while I may not be angry or unenlightened. I must appear “not to stray” from my nurturing nature or not “be consumed” by my anger. So, long story short, thank you. I appreciate how much I can relate to this post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    1. le petit soleil Post author

      thank you so much for your comment, Kim, and please forgive me for taking so very long to read it and respond. i hope that the anger and hurt have waned a bit or at least become more muted over the last seven months. nearly four years out, i still struggle with those feelings, but they are less intense and less frequent. i also hope that you have found new friends among those of us who belong to the club that no one wants to join. i am sending so much warmth your way.


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