Quinlan knew Gadd for more than a decade; she offered help without imposing, while also giving her the space she needed.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 8, 2021. It has since been updated.
Trigger warning: This story contains with themes of miscarriage and personal loss that some readers may find distressing
Suffering a miscarriage is a devastating experience, with seemingly no end to the grief. Most prefer to grieve in private while distancing themselves from loved ones. When Ashlee Gadd suffered a miscarriage, the grief was unbearable and she was confronted with returning to the normalcy of life which she wasn't prepared for. "There’s so much I didn’t know about this kind of loss," said Gadd, a 35-year-old Mom from California, reported TODAY. "I never understood how much ordinary life continues swirling around... how this process doesn’t happen in a day. It lasts and lingers. I never considered how many women are walking around in public places in the process of silently miscarrying."
It's normal for loved ones to want to come over and help out but in some cases, as it was with Gadd, she wasn't ready for that. However, she did have a great support network and one among them was a gem of a friend named Anna Quinlan, who she has known for over a decade. Gadd, who's a Mom of three, pointed out how crucial it was for women to have support networks, more than ever when they're grieving. "I am always amazed at the crowd of women I see gather around to offer support in those times," she said. Quinlan found an innovative way to offer help to Gadd without being imposing.
Instead of asking how she was doing, Quinlan listed down different ways she could be of help and asked Gadd to choose. "Checking on you. Please choose from the following," read the text.
"1. I pick your kids up anytime after 3:30 today and show them a good time through dinner (which would be at Chick-fil-A, obvi, & would include takeout brought back for you).
2. I send the DoorDash dinner of your choice to you (This offer is valid any day this week. Also next week.)
3. I have to go to Target today, I can pick up anything you need & drop it on your doorstep & not talk to you at all.
4. I can send prayers & good vibes & you can politely decline any tangible services at this time," read the text.
Gadd took up on her friend's offer to do a Target run. She posted an image of a single roll of toilet paper and wrote, "Would you believe me if I told you this is all of the toilet paper in my entire house right now? Would gladly take you up on the target offer — we need toilet paper. You'd be saving me a trip." Gadd also slipped in some humor to lighten the conversation. When Gadd asked for a box of Cheez-Its, Quinlan responded, "Regular flavor or white cheddar, which is objectively superior but I won't judge you if you like to keep it classic." Gadd responded, "Regular. Can we still be friends." Quinland replied, "Barely. But yes."
Having known Gadd for more than a decade, Quinlan knew how best she could help her friend in such a situation. Toilet paper and Cheez-its were left on Gadd's porch that same afternoon. Quinlan spoke to TODAY and said when she has a friend struggling, she tries to figure out the best way to help her. "I know that Ashlee has other friends who can offer totally different resources, like sharing their own vulnerable stories of miscarriage or offering beautiful flowers or gifts," said Quinlan. "I'm not as great at those resources, but I can drop toilet paper and crackers on your porch by 3 p.m."
Sometimes, it's the toilet paper and crackers that keep you going. Gadd posted an image of the items on her porch and shared images of the texts exchanged between the pair, highlighting the friendship they shared. There was a lot of love for the post in the comments. "Ah I love this. When my mom died, people kept offering if they could do anything and it was too hard and emotionally tiring to say yes and have to specify what, so I just said no. Options make it so much easier for the person struggling. What a kind friend," wrote one person. "This is so touching! To see a friend who truly gets it — how to support a friend who’s just had a miscarriage — is beautiful!! And that you’ve still got humor and a willingness to take her up in her offer? That touches me as a person who’s walked the miscarriage road six times myself. So glad you’ve got people around you to rally and support you! Sending you love and prayers! ❤️" commented another person.
Gadd is also the founder of Coffee and Crumbs, a collaborative storytelling blog about motherhood. She is also an author and has penned 'The Magic of Motherhood.'