I haven’t written about our grieving journey for a while.
But I live with grief, as an unwelcome foe that has been forced into my life.
I cannot shake the reality of it.
Oh, how I wish!
I know that I have written before about the do’s and don’ts when it comes to dealing with grieving parents.
Recently, I have felt the need of a new post, to include new strategies for coping with it and also hurtful things you SHOULD NEVER say to a hurting parent.
1. Don’t say “I could become like you by spending too much time in your company.”
I get it, it is depressing and off putting to watch someone mop around over their dead child.
But guess what?
We did not choose to be in this position and I would give anything not to be here.
Even my own life, to bring my child back and give him a future on this earth.
2. Don’t say: “I do not understand you.”
We know that, we truly do.
As bereaved parents, we learn to act differently around people who haven’t experienced loss. We put up a front and move on with things on a daily basis.
But it is so very nice when people use their empathic skills and put themselves in our shoes, even for a moment.
And then, when they look at things from our perspective and come up with statements that show that they have truly visited the uncharted territory of grief.
When they say: “I get it.” Even if they get it only partially and fractionally.
We are grateful when we are not made to feel like pariahs.
3. Don’t give us all the details
– My baby was seriously ill but you found out you were expecting on the day you visited him in the hospital. Congrats. But I really DON’T NEED to know all the details. I promise I have better things to do than count the days back from when your child is born to realise he or she was conceived around the same time mine was diagnosed with leukaemia, so please why would you be so cruel and say it to us???
It hurts. It makes me reel at an unjust and cruel existence, God and world.
– My baby died but yours has just seen a “miracle” happening in his life. Congrats. But I DON’T NEED to know. Please don’t share your news with me in this way. A private text saying he is doing better than expected was all that was needed and would have been so, so appreciated.
It makes me feel second-class. As if God had favourites and my baby didn’t make it on the list and yours did.
4. Word your statements carefully.
I do not mean tiptoe around a bereaved parent but please be more aware of what comes out of your mouth.
I was reading the other day on another bereaved mummy’s blog about different very hurtful statements people made around them:
“God didn’t heal your child because of YOUR lack of faith.”
I do not deny that God does heal in certain circumstances. I have been following little Ellis’ story on Journey of Sarah and I am thrilled that she is doing so well. But to date, and I am well into my 30s, this is the ONLY miracle I know of.
So do you think it is really necessary to come up with such a statement around a hurting parent? I think not!
5. Accept our withdrawal
Many times, our withdrawal is simply a coping and survival mechanism.
I have nothing personal against the 150 people I have un-friended on Facebook at Christmas.
But I cannot allow silent gawking into our private lives.
I have nothing personal against people or social circles from whose company I have withdrawn.
In some cases, I have considered it was better for all involved, since grief had no place in the rhetoric of the place.
In other cases, I have withdrawn because I felt silently criticised and “lovingly and spiritually” found lacking in whatever it was, as soon as I wrote about quitting the Church. I saw it in the way people withdrew from interacting with my grieving posts almost immediately.
And it hurt.
Because I was at my most vulnerable and all they could come up was holy “tstststs” at me for questioning God, the Church as a viable institution in the present day and age and the beliefs that were passed to us as children…
If I remember well, and it is in that Bible they all carry about with them on Sundays, David, the great David, had similar moments of “weakness” and doubt and questioning. And he became the great leader he became because he had to figure out by himself, in the darkness of despair, what he really believed in.
If he was allowed, why am I not?
In some cases, I have withdrawn because I realised my pain and anger was too much to bear. And I had to pull back to give people breathing space.
So, please, respect that and understand my intentions.
6. Give us permission to be
I am a wreck.
I have not hidden it from anyone.
It takes a simple text to give me splitting headaches and to get my body really down.
I have had the flu four times this winter.
And every time, I came to realise, it has been related to people not understanding.
Guiding my grieving process.
Putting time limits or measures to what or how I can do as a bereaved parent.
Hear me out.
If you only take one thing from this post, let it be this:
Give us permission to grieve the way we need to!
We are carrying very heavy burdens in our hearts.
Burdens that become unbearable when anything else is added.
Please keep your drama to yourselves.
And let us walk this lonely and rough path as well as we can.
Only yesterday I was told of judgemental comments being made regarding a family who have found themselves so far emotionally unable to return to church since the death of a much loved family member in January who was very involved in the church. I felt so sad and so angry – how little some people understand about grief.
I know, Victoria. I do not wish it on anyone but unfortunately, most people only understand grief when they have to face it personally, don’t they? :-(.xx
Sadly, grief is something people only really get if they’ve been through it themselves. That said, there are some lovely people who are more sensitive. Such insensitivity and thoughtlessness can make living with grief so much more difficult though, and it is difficult enough without Georgie, without Hugo, as it is. Sending love to you, Oana xxxx
Yes, Leigh and you are right, I will need to write a post soon to celebrate all the kindness and understanding and acceptance people have shown us too! But many times the negatives take over when the burden is still so fresh and heavy and one small, uncaring word can tip us into despair or rage or sickness…Our words have a lot of power, either way, don’t they? Hope your heart isn’t too battered by similar things.xx
Grief is a personal journey and no one should tell you how to travel through it xx
I know, Glynis, wish people could understand this when the going gets uncomfortable. Thank you for commenting and showing your support.xx
This post resonated with me so much having lost my little boy four months ago (his heart stopped when still inside). We never got to cuddle him alive. I understand wholeheartedly everything you say. I wish I could make others understand me too, but at the same time wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone to make them understand. I wrote a post recently on how much pain I had from stupid comments made by others.
I wish you some good days to come, rolling into good weeks and good months. Eventually they’ll be good years. We all deserve some of those. Love and positive thoughts xx