Won­der­ing what to do af­ter friend loses baby

The Buffalo News - - LIFE COLUMNS -

Dear Carolyn: My hus­band andIhavea mu­tual friend who was preg­nant with her first child. We had planned to give her a con­grat­u­la­tory card with a mone­tary gift, but she mis­car­ried and lost the baby af­ter 37 weeks. Af­ter hear­ing the news from one of her co-work­ers, we held off say­ing anything. The news, I be­lieve, was not to be made pub­lic so we didn’t want to bring it up first.

Since then, she has said noth­ing. Do we vol­un­teer our sym­pa­thy or leave her to cope with this hor­ri­ble event in her own way? – What to Do? Oh what ter­ri­ble news. A baby’s death af­ter 37 weeks is a still­birth, not a mis­car­riage – in­volv­ing so many more hopes, and so much more dev­as­ta­tion.

So, no, never “leave” peo­ple “to cope” with such a loss un­less they ask you, di­rectly or through a spokes-friend, for pri­vacy as they grieve. Even then, re­main arm’slength at­ten­tive – and send a sym­pa­thy note with­out ex­cep­tion, be­cause that shows you care with­out im­pos­ing any obli­ga­tion for a re­sponse.

For the fu­ture: “I be­lieve” is not a valid ba­sis for de­ci­sion­mak­ing on how to re­spond to a death. This was your friend’s baby. If you sus­pect some­one wants to be left alone, then make sure at a min­i­mum you con­firm your sus­pi­cion with this friend or with some­one closer to her than you are – some re­li­able source – be­fore you take any (in)ac­tion.

Dear Carolyn:

My wed­ding is in June. My soon-to-be wife asked her two sis­ters to stand with her as brides­maids.

Now, my fi­ancee is trou­bled be­cause both of her sis­ters can’t stand for long. Ad­di­tion­ally, one sis­ter is ask­ing for spe­cial fa­vors, want­ing to wear long sleeves be­cause she is fat. This sis­ter is also re­quest­ing flat heels and my fi­ancee wants the brides­maids to wear high heels.

Un­for­tu­nately, my fi­ancee doesn’t know how to tell each of them she doesn’t want them in the wed­ding as brides­maids now be­cause of their health prob­lems. I sug­gested she call and sim­ply tell them why. My fi­ancee thinks hav­ing some­one es­cort the sis­ters to the front row of the cer­e­mony and have them sit will be ap­pro­pri­ate.

–J.

“I’m so vain.” That’s how she tells them.

How will this soon-to-be wife treat you if you de­velop health prob­lems? Or treat a child who does, should your fu­ture bring one?

That’s what would keep me up at night, if I were you. Cold-sweat­ing.

The brides­maid an­swer is to say yes to sleeves and flats, no to sham­ing, and yes to seat­ing all at­ten­dants dur­ing the cer­e­mony. It’s not hard.

Which is why the fact of the ques­tion is so ter­ri­fy­ing. To your fi­ancee, her loved ones are ei­ther or­na­men­tal or dis­pos­able. Wow. Un­der­score that “wow” if her at­ti­tude’s fine by you.

Never doubt: If she can ex­cuse treat­ing peo­ple like this, in this con­text, then she can find other ways that serve her in­ter­ests to do the same thing to you.

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