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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

‘It Feels Impossible At Times To Carry On’: Family Mourns Duck Duck Goat Veteran Who Died After Giving Birth

Joslyn Reed, 38, died earlier this month. Friends and people who worked with her at Duck Duck Goat described her as "one of the most giving people."

Joslyn Reed died Aug. 5 due to a rare pregnancy complication that can occur during childbirth.
Lejla Zeyadich
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FULTON MARKET — A beloved restaurant industry veteran is being mourned after dying unexpectedly from a rare childbirth complication.

Joslyn Reed, who worked at Girl and the Goat, gave birth Aug. 2 to her daughter, Coen Reed, several weeks early after complications with her pregnancy.

Not long after Coen was born, Joslyn Reed suffered from an amniotic fluid embolism, a rare and serious condition. She was hospitalized for days and put on life support. She died Aug. 5 after doctors found she no longer had any brain activity.

Joslyn Reed was 38. She is survived by her husband, Ian Reed, and two daughters.

The Reeds had just married in June, exchanging vows in front of close family and friends in an intimate ceremony in Humboldt Park.

“It is a devastating loss, more than words can possibly express. It feels impossible at times to carry on,” Ian Reed wrote in a letter to Block Club Chicago. “It seems like my entire life led me to her, our relationship was gravitational, inevitable and beautiful.”

Joslyn Reed’s friends launched a GoFundMe to help the family with expenses and other needs after her death. It’s raised more than $102,000, though the organizers hope to collect more.

Supporters can donate online.

Credit: Lejla Zeyadich
Joslyn and Ian Reed on their wedding day with their daughter Zoey in Humboldt Park.

‘They Were Just Drawn To Each Other’

Joslyn Reed and Ian Reed met in 2016 as part of the original staff that opened Duck Duck Goat, 857 W. Fulton Market.

Although both were dealing with personal struggles, they gravitated to each other, Ian Reed wrote. Friends said they were meant for each other.

“There was something about her or something about him that they were just drawn to each other,” said Jillian Prewett, Joslyn Reed’s close friend.

Lejla Zeyadich, another member of the original Duck Duck Goat staff, became close friends with the couple. She is a Bosnian refugee with just her parents in the United States, and she’d recently moved to Chicago — but Joslyn Reed embraced as if they were family, she said.

“She was one of the most giving people ever,” Zeyadich said. “She was like the sister that I never had.”

Zeyadich said she and the Reeds would spend their nights at music shows, traveling and going out; they were “wild industry misfits.” They talked about life and had “real conversations” while their shifts went by.

Joslyn Reed’s “awesome” taste in music also drew people together, as she loved going to concerts with friends, Prewett said. Her favorites included the Smashing Pumpkins, Flaming Lips and Radiohead, Prewett said.

“One day, she took me to a Lana Del Rey concert, [and] we sat third row. She surprised me with it. It was when I was broke,” Prewett said. “She was just always so generous like that. She would take me under her wing and take me to do stuff that I couldn’t normally do.”

That kindness came naturally to Joslyn Reed, her husband wrote.

“She had a natural ability to befriend and nurture those around her, seeing through their defenses and egos and instantly knowing them for who they were and what made them special,” Ian Reed said. “Surrounded by chosen family and working through the pain and hurt we felt from the lives we’d experienced, we strove to create a place between us where everyone could be safe and loved for who they were, feel valued and heard, and aim for their highest potential.”

Joslyn Reed was also known for her motherly spirit, Ian Reed said.

Joslyn Reed was a “loving presence” to Prewett’s children, her friend said. And when the Reeds decided to let “what happens, happens,” they were “surprisingly gifted” with their first daughter, Zoey Reed, in 2020.

Even though Joslyn Reed was nervous about motherhood, she took to it with stride, Prewett said.

“She was nervous that she didn’t want to mess it up. … I saw how she was with my kids, and I just knew she would be a great mom. … She blew me away with that,” Prewett said. “That’s one of the sad things, is that she was living the life that she deserved, and she had never been in a better place.”

During Joslyn Reed’s most recent pregnancy, she was diagnosed with placenta previa, where the placenta wholly or partially covers the opening of the cervix. This led to her giving birth early for her and her child’s safety, according to the GoFundMe page.

Joslyn Reed experienced significant bleeding due to a previously undiagnosed condition, and then she had the amniotic fluid embolism, according to the GoFundMe. The complications led to her going into cardiac arrest twice; she was put in a coma-like state to try to save her before she died.

Zeyadich created the GoFundMe to help the Reed family. They’ve been touched by the outpouring of support.

“Joslyn was always doing things for other people. And I think that she touched so many lives that they’re sharing or donating. … They’re rallying for and it her speaks volumes on how much they loved her,” Zeyadich said.

As of last week, Coen Reed is off oxygen and is growing stronger in the NICU, Zeyadich shared in an update online.

“Joslyn’s daughters will be her living legacy of light and love, but as our vow to each other to break the cycles of our elder generations, I hope to bestow upon them the healing guiding love that every living being deserves,” Ian Reed wrote.

Joslyn Reed’s memorial is 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday at 950 W. Fulton St. In lieu of flowers, the family asks well-wishers to bring 4-by-6-inch photos of Joslyn Reed and a memory about her written on the back. Zeyadich and Prewett said they plan to make a photo book for Zoey and Coen.

“I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our friends, family and community. To those who give blood, to those who have dedicated their lives to medicine and service. Someday I will find a way to repay the support that has flooded in,” Ian Reed wrote.

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