So you have a friend. A friend who is pregnant after loss. If it wasn’t a pandemic, you’d be more than happy to hang out with them and help around the house. But… it’s 2020… and every in-person interaction carries some level of risk. Maybe you’re the more risk-averse one, maybe they are.
What’s a good friend to do? Here are five ways to help your pregnant after loss friend during a pandemic – without adding virus-related anxiety.
1. Send a card.
This one is *almost* a no-brainer. A text is nice, but a card is better. There’s just nothing like reading someone else’s handwriting, knowing they took the time to select a card and write out words. It takes more thought and care than a text, and it is received that way too. “But I don’t know what to write,” you may think. Here are some ideas…
- Say you were thinking of them and their family. Maybe something specific sparked your thoughts of them – mention it!
- Talk about how much they mean to you. Their friendship, things you share.
- Acknowledge that this is a scary time – PAL in general, pandemic-related medical care changes, extreme weather events…
- Reinforce that you are sticking around. Maybe offer some specific help like doing a grocery run, dog-walking, meal kits (or pre-made meals).
- Do you have a new hobby, book, or TV show that is helping pass the time? Share it!
2. Offer a virtual hang.
It can feel silly or not quite worth it to schedule a video chat or a larger virtual group hang. Do the work so your friend doesn’t have to. Offer some times and, if it’s a group, take care of the technical side (FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, and Zoom all have good free options). As someone who’s done remote meetings, classes, support groups, and hangouts… it often goes better than you think it will. And for your friend, that recharge of seeing a supportive face can really help with loneliness and isolation.
3. Send a self-care package.
Pregnancy really takes a toll on the body, and PAL adds a whole heap on the mind and soul. Sometimes we neglect the body part because our energy is so depleted on other things. Many areas don’t have open spas or salons, so make it easy for your friend to spoil themselves. Maybe get their spouse in on the idea and you send over the tools and instructions for a pedicure or pregnancy massage. Another option is to combine this with #2 and have a virtual spa day!
4. Do an activity together (but apart).
Going through something together gives you an anchor to talk about. If you do the same daily yoga challenge or binge-watch the same show, you have a built-in conversation starter instead of always opening with, “so… how are you?” That easy bond can keep the lines of communication open and help your friend feel less isolated. Plus – distractions are often welcome during PAL. A shared distraction is even better because of the peer pressure to stick with it.
5. Ask if they have the support they need.
Depending on your relationship, it might seem a bit forward if you send them a list of local resources. At the same time, other people really value and appreciate if someone has done the research. It’s worth asking your friend if they are in a support group or have people they can talk to when they need to. Even though you are an amazing friend (you’re reading this on how to help!), you may not be the best sounding board for them. If your friend hasn’t connected with other loss parents or PAL parents, consider making the suggestion to do so. There’s just no substitute for connecting with someone going through a similar life event – especially one as emotional and scary as pregnancy after loss. Some people need a little nudge (I did).