We did receive and feel a lot of support from our friends and church during the months of Georgie’s hospitalisation, his stay in the children’s hospice and after his passing. People were overwhelmingly kind. Getting meals ready. Looking after Emma. Getting people to clean our house or doing it themselves. Sending us flowers. Putting money together to see us through the rough months. Paying for our rent. Buying wee mementos in Georgie’s memory. But unfortunately not all people got it, our need to grieve at our own pace, once Georgie passed away. Surprisingly, it was family members doing or saying the wrong thing that shocked us. And also, members of certain churches who live under the “prosperous Gospel” doctrine who literally ran away as soon as Georgie passed away. Too much of a dose of reality for them, I suppose. I woke up on Friday morning to a shockingly upsetting email from a relative. I will not shame the person or myself by putting it here, the message that was sent to me. But I will link in my reply, in the hope, and only in the hope that people will learn. Learn to respect other people’s pain, even if they are your relatives and you think you are somehow entitled to give opinions by the mere blood connection. Learn to respect that people mourn very differently and very messily. Mourning cannot follow timescales, relationship rules or precepts. Mourning is the complete unveiling of one’s soul and should never, even be criticised or directed, as it is a very personal and intimate journey back to a new “normality”. So, here goes: “Dear Nosey and Insensitive Relative, You clearly speak from the perspective of someone who read a lot of books, knows all the “right” answers but hasn’t experienced the loss of a child. Without wanting to generalise, this has been the attitude from the “strong” side of the family ever since Georgie passed away. Ignore. Dismiss. Don’t acknowledge the loss. Don’t acknowledge the pain. Give unrequested and unnecessary advice and personal opinions and views. This hasn’t helped. Not one bit.
Did it not occur to you that “guided grieving”, read not a single flipping mention of our baby boy and his passing away, can lead to dangerous patterns of behaviour and harmful relationships? Because, dear relative, ignoring pain instead of expressing it, leads only to repressed feelings, anger and later on a very toxic and literally life-threatening explosion of emotion.
I don’t even know why I am writing this email. I know you will not allow it to break your wall of defenses and “I know betters”. I know it will not help you grieve for Georgie as in sitting down and actually allowing the realisation of his passing devastate your world. I know you will most likely rationalise your pain and push it aside. And that is ok. It is your choice.
But dear relative, MY baby died and I have the right to grieve in any way I choose to, without anyone attempting to mould and “guide” that process. And make me feel bad about the way I relate to the rest of my family during these very fresh stages of grief. I still function. My first child still gets washed and fed and taken to school. My husband still gets his warm dinners on the table and his laundry done. I grieve alongside living, as any healthy individual does.
Have a lovely day.”
My next blog post will reveal how precious my baby was, in the eyes and perception of the ones who knew him and looked after him, his nurses and our friends.
How can anyone choose to ignore his existence and tell me to “move on” is beyond my ability to comprehend.