My friend lost her baby. I'm pregnant. Should I go to the funeral?
June 9, 2015 8:25 AM   Subscribe

A friend just lost her baby in the second trimester of pregnancy. She's invited me to the funeral. I want to go to support her. I cannot imagine the pain she's going through. But I'm 8 months pregnant and all is going fine. Would this be upsetting for her?

A few details:
1. The friend is someone in group of people I hang out with, but not someone I've ever hung out with one-on-one. When she was ready to announce her pregnancy, I was 24 weeks along and we've been checking in with each other about how it's been going and trading cute stories when we see each other, which until recently was about once or twice a week. We haven't seen each other in person in almost 2 months. She's a great gal and has gone through a lot in her life and this baby coming was such and immense joy for her.

2. The invitation: she invited me to the funeral via Facebook, including me in the group of people who'd reached out to her, saying our kind words are keeping her going. So that's a huge reason to go. She could easily have not invited me and I probably wouldn't even have known there was a funeral. But since emotions are running high right now, maybe she doesn't how she'll react to seeing me big and pregnant with a (knock on wood) stress-free pregnancy. Also, her sister is making most of the arrangements, so it's possible her sister invited me.

3. I do not intend to update her on my pregnancy or say word one about me and how I'm doing at this funeral. It would just be to support her and if anyone asks about me I plan to say, "I'm doing just fine. Thanks for asking. Wasn't it a lovely service?"

4. After searching for answers to this question on MeFi and google, I found out there's a superstition about pregnant women and funerals. I am not at all superstitious and this is not factoring into my decision.

Thank you for any insight!
posted by Pearl928 to Human Relations (28 answers total)
You should go. It's important to be there for each other when bad things happen; that is why we go to funerals. Your kindness will not be forgotten. And it sounds like you know just how to act.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:27 AM on June 9, 2015 [24 favorites]

Do you have any mutual friends, perhaps someone who is closer to her? If so, I would discreetly ask for that person's opinion on your attendance. There is definitely no hard and fast answer to a question like this.
posted by telegraph at 8:29 AM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think you should go. Your friend invited you, which means that whatever else she was thinking, she wanted to reach out to you for support. I agree that going and gushing about your pregnancy or something would be awful, but it sounds like you've got a good handle on the appropriate way to act here.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:30 AM on June 9, 2015 [11 favorites]

I'd ask her sister or a mutual friend to make sure, but if you can't get in touch with someone who knows her well, I'd go.
posted by jeather at 8:34 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Reach out to the sister and remind her that you're visibly pregnant and ask what she thinks. And then if you get there and your friend seems upset at you being there, apologize, leave and never bring it up.
posted by Etrigan at 8:34 AM on June 9, 2015 [54 favorites]

I think Etrigan has it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:37 AM on June 9, 2015

She invited you. I think you should go.
posted by jaguar at 8:39 AM on June 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

Please talk to the sister first.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:41 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

My wife and I suffered a miscarriage at the end of the first trimester, and we were utterly miserable. Having a funeral for a miscarriage is, in my cultural context anyway, a very unusual thing; having a funeral in this way suggests to me that she may be having an even more difficult time with it than just the usual misery of miscarriage. So I agree that you should talk to the sister first and that perhaps it would be best to find a reason you can't make it.
posted by gerryblog at 9:12 AM on June 9, 2015 [10 favorites]

I agree with gerryblog that, at least in my circles and cultural context, very unusual. I'd get some additional information from the sister.
posted by k8t at 9:16 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

The second trimester is long. I lost a baby in the second trimester -- I went through labor, had an epidural, delivered a baby who looked like a tiny perfect newborn, and my milk came in afterward. We opted not to have a funeral but he was cremated. It is not the same thing as a first trimester miscarriage (which I have also had). Having a funeral does not mean she is having an especially hard time; it means that most likely her loss occurred after that fuzzy point where the fetus really is a baby.

Anyway. I do not think you should go to the funeral. Her emotions are likely all over the place, but having gone through group support and talked to many, many women who have lost babies in the second and third trimesters, visibly pregnant people are very triggering in the early days (in many ways -- sometimes it was just painful to see them, and sometimes they caused me massive anxiety thinking of all the things that could go wrong for them). I think you should be as supportive as you can via e-mail, text message, flowers, meals delivered, etc., but keep your pregnant body out of her sight until she's had some time to get past the initial shock. (The same goes for newborn babies.)

You sound like a really good friend.
posted by xeney at 9:35 AM on June 9, 2015 [14 favorites]

Ask the sister, yeah.

That said, my sister just lost her newborn son ten days ago, and she was glad to see her pregnant friends and friends with babies - especially small ones - at the service.

This is a highly individual thing, though. Best of luck to the both of you.
posted by punchtothehead at 9:35 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Etrigan's advice is good. Reaching out to the sister will help you ascertain whether she invited you or your friend did.
posted by hootenatty at 9:36 AM on June 9, 2015

A lot of people get worried that having their own healthy family is somehow "rubbing it in" and so they uncomfortably avoid parents who've lost a child. But what that looks like on the other side is since that your kid died, you suddenly also get cut off from the entire world of life-with-kids: right when you really need some support, you're a social pariah. It feels like no one is even acknowledging your loss as "real."

Go ahead and double-check with the sister. But don't avoid going on the assumption she would be too upset by your belly.
posted by cogitron at 9:47 AM on June 9, 2015 [12 favorites]

Yeah, check with the sister, but I say, go. There is nothing that isn't intensely painful for her right now. You can sit in the back, sign the condolence book, leave early if it feels awkward. You being at the funeral may be painful for her; you skipping the funeral may also be very painful, so I say err on the side of showing support. You can never take back skipping her baby's funeral.

Don't be surprised if it takes her a long time to be comfortable being friends with you again; one of my close friends and I were due at the same time, she lost her baby, and it was almost two years before she was comfortable hanging out again. She sent a baby present and cards and we kept up via facebook and text and she celebrated my baby's milestones, but she couldn't handle seeing the baby until she'd worked through her grief, and it took a long time. Cut her infinite slack.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:50 AM on June 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

If the loss is after 24 weeks then its not a miscarriage of a fetus, its a stillbirth or a death of a baby... So its not necessarily a funeral for a miscarriage.
posted by catspajammies at 10:00 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

re: my 24 weeks comment. So the mother may have given birth to a live baby and bonded, so I can see why she may want a funeral. Personally, I don't think I would go, and I think you should check with the sister. I'm 8 months pregnant at the moment and we faced losing the baby at 24 weeks... I was insanely jealous of all the other women on the ward who were just dealing with normal pregnancies and whose tummies were twice the size of mine... in fact, I had a good friend who had given birth just before and I didn't want to really talk to her because I felt like her sleepless nights feeding a newborn were a luxury problem. Luckily it all worked out, but it was VERY stressful and full of heartache and if she's like me, she may not want to be around you. I'm sorry you are in this position.
posted by catspajammies at 10:11 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Just as a counterpoint to thoughts that this is highly unusual: After a certain point in the 2nd trimester, where I live anyway, hospitals connect parents with funeral homes after what is termed a stillbirth (here it is 20 weeks, even earlier than 24). It's a personal choice, and not everyone does it (we opted for cremation and a private ritual), but not unusual for parents to have a memorial. We were definitely asked by several people if we were having one.

That aside, she is undoubtedly having a hard emotional time right now. I think Lyn Never and Etrigan's advice to talk to the sister and remind her you are very pregnant is excellent. The friend might want you there, but she may not be thinking about the reality of how she will feel at seeing a very pregnant person. Or she might be okay with it, like punchtothehead's sister. Or someone close to your friend may have invited you on her behalf, not knowing you're so visibly pregnant. Like xeney's, I found pregnant women and newborns very triggering, especially right after, even though I genuinely appreciated their support and cared about them.

No matter what ends up happening, I'm sure your friend has really appreciated your support, and you are very, very kind and thoughtful to be considering her feelings like this. It's a delicate situation for sure. Even if you don't go to the funeral, please keep reaching out to her--it will mean a lot to her down the road.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:17 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't consider a group invite on Facebook to mean much.

I concur that you should ask the sister. Will there be other pregnant women there?

Also, people seem to overlooking this: "we've never hung out one-on-one" and "we haven't seen each other in person in two months."

For what it's worth my gut instinct says don't go, send flowers instead with a thoughtful card.

I mean, it wouldn't be wrong of you to go, and would certainly be wrong of her to be rude about it- but this is the kind of situation a polite bow-out is for.
posted by quincunx at 10:21 AM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Don't go. Send flowers. Donate to a charity in her daughter's name. Send a gift card for a restaurant or drop off a casserole. Do not go. The emotional upset of what you will see there is too much for a lady in your condition. You may think that you can handle it but, trust me, as a mother of three, you cannot and should not be expected to.
posted by myselfasme at 10:28 AM on June 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think she would be hurt if you didn't go. I would probably project and think you didn't want to be around a tragedy like that in the last months of your pregnancy, like your thought it was too hard *for you*.

I'd call her sister to check in just to be sure.
posted by amaire at 10:35 AM on June 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'd lean towards going. Lots of people in this thread seem like they are engaging in mind-reading activities and assuming that they know how your friend must feel. You and I have not swallowed the yellow pill, so we can only make decisions based on what your friend has said and done.

She (probably) invited you to this extremely intimate moment of her life. That was a deliberate act. Even on Facebook, unless it's literally just a status update, in making the invite someone had to click a box next to your name to bring you in. On the off (off) chance that someone else took over your friend's facebook and sent the invite, I guess it does make sense to send the sister a message just to make sure that friend knows you'll be there. You were her friend and support during the pregnancy -- don't be a fairweather friend who abandons her when the going gets rough.

Just as some grieving mothers are made upset by the fact that other people dare to continue to breed successfully, others may be able to take comfort in the fact that the circle of life and love continues, even in the face of such a personal loss. Please don't assume that your friend is in the former group, especially given her action to the contrary.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:35 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I would contact her, not her sister. I would tell her "You know, I am high pregnant, big as a house, you cannot miss it. I am hormonal as hell and probably over thinking this and I just cannot imagine how you feel. I am so torn between wanting to be there to support you and also wondering if seeing me will make you feel terrible and also also wondering is bowing out will make you feel rejected and abandoned. I just want to do whatever you most need from me, and I am feeling unclear if maybe the group FB invite was a whoopsie where folks just forgot. I will totally respect your wishes here. I am sorry for your loss. I just wanted to clarify if I should come to the funeral or not."

I would do that not only to get a clear answer but to help psychologically prepare her for potential unexpected emotional fallout that maybe hasn't occurred to anyone and also to make it clear that it is a-okay if she sees my tummy and bursts into tears. We can totally hug and talk about and I will completely understand and not be mad about it or something.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 10:51 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

"[I am] wondering if seeing me will make you feel terrible and also also wondering is bowing out will make you feel rejected and abandoned"

No. Please no. Do not contact her. It's a highly emotional, vulnerable time for her, and to foist your own uncertainty about attending this funeral is somewhat selfish and totally unnecessary for her to deal with. This sort of emotional fallout is something she will be dealing with for months, if not years, to come. It's not your place to emotionally prepare her for this - time will do that plenty, trust me. If you must, contact her sister.

My mom gave birth to a stillborn baby boy at the same time her sister-in-law was heavily, visibly pregnant. At first, my mom tried to be okay with her presence at the funeral and subsequent get-togethers, but no matter how hard she tried, my dad and I had to deal with her breakdowns after every family function we attended until my cousin was born. Seeing the baby (who would've been around the same age as my brother) wasn't much easier, and to this day my heart breaks to think of the pain my mom went through.

I don't think you should go. Even if she's okay at the time, the image of you with a pregnant belly could exacerbate her sadness at any given moment.

From the looks of it, she has other people who've provided their kind words and presence of support and encouragement, and there's other ways for you to show your support - flowers, a thoughtful well-written card, etc. Also, if you've never hung out with her one-on-one, and only exchanged cute stories once a week until two months ago, it doesn't seem like you two were very close, so that's even less of a reason to go. Perhaps once your baby is born, you could possibly visit her sans the little one, and let her know you care. Once she is able to be rational, she should be able to realize that your absence at the funeral came from a place of kindness, not of lack of support or potential awkwardness.

(This may not be something you care about, but you may need to be prepared if you attend: her husband, parents, others in the family may not be thrilled with your presence there. This is a loss that affects her the most, but will also have caused pain for those that are near and dear to her and her child).
posted by Everydayville at 11:46 AM on June 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Hi, folks,

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses and kind words. I just sent a brief email to her sister explaining that I'd love to be there, but am clearly quite pregnant and if that may be upsetting, I will sit this one out and reconnect later. I donated to the cause listed on the funeral information page. We'll see if the sister is able to respond, considering she may be kind of overwhelmed right now herself.

Point taken about others not being thrilled about me being there or thinking it's tone deaf. And I had already planned on leaving quietly if I got the sense that I was making things awkward.

Thank you, parents who have been through this or something similar, for your candor about the situation. This has got to be one of the most difficult life experiences there is.
posted by Pearl928 at 12:07 PM on June 9, 2015 [13 favorites]

She asked you to go. You should honor her wishes and go.
posted by Happydaz at 12:10 PM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to say that I think you're handling this so well and with much tact and kindness. My family wished some people would have been this aware when we went through it! Good luck with your own new little one, and best wishes!
posted by Everydayville at 12:15 PM on June 9, 2015 [10 favorites]

As someone who had to deliver a baby at 29 weeks who I knew was going to die after delivery being around pregnant women was extremely traumatic for me. I think you are making the right choice here. Make sure to send a card if you haven't already. Be prepared that she may not want to be around you for quite some time, even after you have had your baby.
posted by teamnap at 5:20 PM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

« Older Recommendations for commando fiction?   |   Birthday party ideas for seven-year-old... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.