Georgie has been gone for 11 weeks now and of course we have encountered a large array of reactions to the fact that we are now bereaved parents.
5 things and approaches I have been finding helpful:
1. Let me take the lead
I have found very liberating the fact that many friends and acquaintances have allowed me to take the lead in this. A simple “sorry for your loss” usually has sufficed but for me the most precious reaction has been the utterance, either verbal or non-verbal “it is ok to feel whatever you need to feel when I am around.”
I have been very honest with my emotions. In my own terms. in my personal space, which is either my home or my blog. The chances are slim that I will burst into tears on the street or in a random conversation.
But if I lead the conversation towards Georgie and either rant about a baby blankie, shed a tear or tell you about one of our horrific hospital experiences, the most you can do for me is to…just let me do it!
So thank you to each and everyone of you who has listened and allowed me to just take out what was in my heart. It really helps.
2. Say something from the heart. Or say nothing.
Since Georgie passed away my senses have been heightened to the max. I used to be quite a good “human heart reader” but now, I sense what every reaction carries behind it. Basically, I can sense fear or awkwardness. So please try to accept in your heart, before you approach a grieving parent, that death is, as much as we would like to deny it, a natural part of life. Come to terms with it, for your own sake and for our sake. It saves in very awkward conversations.
3. Give a wee meaningful gift
I have felt the physical need to surround myself with pretty things and meaningful reminders of my beautiful baby boy. And people have blessed my heart with their kind gestures: donating to our favourite charities, stitching a cushion, gifting a beautiful candle, creating a slideshow, ordering beautiful necklaces or creating something with Georgie’s name in it and even temporarily tattooing themselves with wee dragonflies in Georgie’s memory. Thank you for keeping my baby boy’s memory alive for me!
I always feel like a pariah and an outcast when I express emotions but hear nothing from my readers. You see, at the back end of my blog I can see the exact number of people who have read my post. So when out of 100 visitors only one or two take the time to reply, I feel the sting because I do feel the temptation to hide my emotions and not be totally honest again. So yeah, if you have read my post about frustration, please do leave a comment or give me a wee wave. Let me know it is okay sometimes to feel disappointed and disillusioned. To be real!
5. Let me be normal again
Last night I sat and watched a magic show with a ten month old baby on my knee. I am so grateful to his parents for allowing me to hold him. He was calm and intrigued by the show and I cherished the feeling of baby weight on my knee and baby smell in my nostrils. Because I do miss my baby, physically and it does bring me a tiny bit of comfort to be able to hold and cuddle another little one.
3 things and approaches I found unhelpful and hurtful
1. Making my tragedy all about you
I have said it before, and I will say it again. Please refrain. Please don’t assume. Please don’t identify with me.
Because I am different. Because I am strong. Because I can take more shit than you could or imagine I can.
So if you do get pregnant, do the following, like a very lovely friend of ours did. Approach me privately, in person or online. Let me know first about your good news. It will sting, of course it will. But the sting will soon go and the memory I will have of it will be of your approach and sensitivity.
Please DON’T protect me from my own emotions by hiding your good news. Simply because I will either hear it from someone else and feel angry at you, for assuming I am a weakling. Or I will see your tummy and have to face the fact impromptu, without any mental preparation. Talk about shock…
Generally, please, just show me respect by being honest. Even if it will sting. Because then that will be between me and God to sort out. Nothing to do with you.
2. I have seen my baby die but I am not death
Probably THE MOST hurtful reaction I have ever encountered was a mummy I know visibly pulling her baby (the same age as my Georgie) away from me when we first saw each other after he died.
And yes, I did feel where her reaction was coming from. It was a visceral need to protect her precious baby girl from the idea of death. I do get it. But hey, I am NOT death. I am just a mummy with her heart shred into bits because my baby can’t enjoy a family meal like yours was and I can’t feed him mash like you did yours…
3. Words of comfort
As I said before, death can’t be explained. Please don’t try, unless you are God.
I would like to have my baby here with me, just like you do. It does not bring me any comfort to know he is “with the Lord”, “in a better place”, “not suffering anymore”. Because this shouldn’t have happened in the first place, like it didn’t happen to your kid. Would you like to swap places? I didn’t think so, so please, do cut the…comforting words.
Have a lovely Sunday!