Finding friendship: Orlanda and Rachel’s story

August 2023

A chance encounter through WAY’s Instagram platform helped friendship to flourish between WAY Ambassador Orlanda and fellow WAY member Rachel, who were both widowed while pregnant.

Orlanda and Rachel

It was a chance encounter on social media that led to a life-changing friendship. After hearing Orlanda share her story on a WAY Instagram Live interview on Mother’s Day in 2020, fellow WAY member Rachel reached out to her, and they struck up a conversation. 

Orlanda and Rachel’s lives mirrored each other’s in a heartbreaking way – both had experienced the devastating loss of their partners during their pregnancies. Their daughters, Cassia and Mabel, were born just three weeks apart in August 2019.

The women’s friendship blossomed, as they realised they were walking parallel paths through the complex emotions of grief and the joys and challenges of first-time motherhood. 

A few months after connecting online, Rachel and Orlanda arranged a meetup in a London playground, where they introduced their 18-month-old girls to each other. From that moment, the foursome’s friendship bloomed further, and they soon embarked on two group holidays together – along with another WAY member Pamela who shared a similar timeline. Having each other as a support system made a world of difference during some of the darkest times. 

“So many things about being bereaved leave you feeling isolated, and so does becoming a Mum,” said Orlanda. “We were both navigating such particular situations, both of which need peer-to-peer support. Our little girls were going through the same developmental stages at the same time, and our grief was evolving in tandem."

"Having someone to check in with who’s trying to make sense of it all – and let you know you’re not mad – is invaluable.”

As their daughters grow older, Rachel and Orlanda hope the bond they’ve created will be as valuable for their daughters as it is for them. Even though the girls are only just turning four, finding friends who can relate to their experiences and share in their journey brings them huge comfort.

“They are trying to work out a big concept and never had the chance to ever meet their fathers,” said Orlanda. “As their understanding grows, having friends who can say ‘me too!’ can only be a good thing.”

Rachel added: “I hope they’ll have a companion in each other, like Orlanda and I do. 

I believe we were meant to meet. She’s helped me rediscover who I am and has helped me find joy again.”

Orlanda and Rachel’s story was featured recently in the Metro.

Read Orlanda’s story