Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What Not To Say?

First, let me say thank you to those who shared such personal stories from their painful journeys.  I appreciate it tremendously.  I know it is not always easy, and can be painful to share.  And for those not on this journey, I ask you read this with an open mind and heart.  Some of the items on here are not necessarily hurtful to all of us grieving; some items can be found comforting.

It’s not always as much as what is said, but how you act to our response.  For example, when I was told, “He’s in a better place,” I responded with, “No, the better place is with me!”  The person appeared astounded.  I wasn’t trying to be rude, but at the very moment, my arms seemed like the best place for my son to be.  I know people are trying to comfort me.   Some are uncomfortable themselves, looking for anything to fill the silence. 

Then there are times when things are said which are completely and utterly irresponsible!  Like someone carrying a loaded, emotional gun and firing it off whenever they so choose. These things are blatantly obvious on the list, and shocking!  What person says such heartless, cruel things to a grieving parent is beyond me. 

When you read through this list, please don’t feel guilty or ashamed for something you’ve said that has made the list.  Some days, certain things affect us differently.  This is a journey in which we’ve no instruction book, no rules, no guide… We are walking though, in the foggy dark, hurt, sad and painfully aware of the great emptiness left when our child(ren) died.  There’s no true right or wrong.  

Hell, we don’t even know what’s right or wrong.  We only know what hurts at that moment.  Please don’t shy away from us; help us find the words.  We don’t know what they are either, to be honest with you.  It’s all new to us, too.

It’s a lengthy list as our turmoil, ache, grief, pain and more are everlasting.  I collected over 500 comments and compiled a list spanning many pages of legal pages.  My heart breaks for every parent who responded.  Here are those remarks:

  • ·         They wouldn’t want you to be sad/want you to move on
  • ·         They are in a better place/better off/not suffering
  • ·         I’m here if you need anything (and then not be there)
  • ·         I know how you feel because I lost my _______  (grandparent, sibling, cousin, spouse, etc)
  • ·         I know how you felt when my dog died
  • ·         I’m tired of your grief
  • ·         It gets better in time/time heals
  • ·         You have other kids, family/thank goodness for your other kids, family/other kids, family need you
  • ·         “You can’t be certain he’s in heaven! That’s left to God’s mercy! It’s in the Bible!/maybe they are in       heaven
  • ·         I know how you feel because: my kids moved, in prison, don’t talk to me
  • ·         Get over it/let it go/life goes on/it’s been a long time now
  • ·         Why is your family sheltering you?
  • ·         I pray hard for my kids so I don’t lose one
  • ·         Just stare at his picture
  • ·         You can have more/you have enough/you can have another/you can replace them
  • ·         Snap out of it
  • ·         If he wasn’t on drugs…
  • ·         Get it out of your mind/don’t think about it
  • ·         He took his life so he’ll never go to heaven
  • ·         Everything happens for a reason
  • ·         This too shall pass/gets easier
  • ·         I think you really need counseling/are you getting help/you need extensive therapy
  • ·         Are things starting to get back to normal/are you better yet
  • ·         So, how are you/are you ok
  • ·         Psychiatric Professionals: What are your goals? What do you hope to get out of therapy?
  • ·         You can’t dwell on it
  • ·         Try not to memorialize your child
  • ·         It is what it is/it’s was meant to be
  • ·         You have to be strong
  • ·         HR person stating psych services can be used for things like if you have “a teen you want to bury in      the back yard”
  • ·         You’ll be a great mom someday
  • ·         God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle
  • ·         TRY AGAIN!
  • ·         The baby was bad/would have a bad life/something was wrong with the baby
  • ·         God needed him more/needed an angel/needed a flower in His garden
  • ·         At least he wasn’t/didn’t (murdered, overdose, etc)
  • ·         Nor your fault/nothing you could have done
  • ·         BE STRONG!
  • ·         Just be there for your family
  • ·         STOP CRYING!
  • ·         You’re being selfish
  • ·         You’re doing so well/looking better
  • ·         Stop posting about it/posting bothers others/making other people uncomfortable with posts
  • ·         You’re too sensitive
  • ·         What exactly happened/how they die
  • ·         You are so strong/how do you do it
  • ·         Forget the past
  • ·         God will reward you in another way/God has plans for you
  • ·         From another relative: We are getting over them too!!
  • ·         At least you had them for a while/hold them
  • ·         Watch what you say so we don’t have another suicide, etc
  • ·         I’ll be praying for you/him/her
  • ·         Stay calm and carry on
  • ·         Time to get the tubes tied
  • ·         He wasn’t yours forever
  • ·         People don’t like to see you sad/you make people uncomfortable
  • ·         You’re not the only woman/person who has lost a child
  • ·         My problems are worse than yours
  • ·         Their time to go/it was their time
  • ·         I knew they wouldn’t make it
  • ·         Complaining about their own kids
  • ·         “Because she was a child she will always be pure in heaven…can’t say you’ll ever get there”
  • ·         Soldier’s mother: why was he in that God awful war anyway?
  • ·         You’ll get through/you’ll do better than most
  • ·         Don’t be overprotective of other children, family
  • ·         Leave it in God’s hands
  • ·         It’ll be okay
  • ·         You shouldn’t have more children/stop trying
  • ·         It was just your adopted son/daughter
  • ·         They are in heaven looking down on you
  • ·         They are always with you
  • ·         YOU should have expected it
  • ·         Losing your (spouse, sibling) is harder
  • ·         Glad to see you’re happy again
  • ·         Pretend they are away on a trip
  • ·         I didn’t call/attend/show up because….
  • ·         “Glad she is dead…” focus on [me] more
  • ·         Everyone has to die
  • ·         Maybe something is wrong and they are going to hell
  • ·         A punishment to the parent/I am a better parent as my children are still alive
  • ·         Child is turning in their grave
  • ·         After their child’s homecoming in heaven, parent can plan family reunion in heaven
  • ·         Only the good die young
  • ·         How many kids do you have? And then question our responses
  • ·         When are you going to have another baby?
  • ·         Lucky he wasn’t ______________ (older, younger, etc)
  • ·         Keep your head up
  • ·         Thankful you had time with them
  • ·         Death is easier than dealing with a handicapped daughter
  • ·         You baby went to hell because…
  • ·         Get a GRIP!!
  • ·         Something worse could happen
  • ·         Now you have your own angel
  • ·         Now you have a ton of money from the insurance
  • ·         I can’t come over because I can’t handle the death/can’t call/can’t talk/can’t help/don’t like funerals
  • ·         You’ll see them again in heaven
  • ·         It’s the same as when DHS took my children 

What do you say? What are the right words?  There is an overwhelming agreement that a hug and allowing us to talk, cry…just grieve in the way we need to, help more than one may ever know.  

Support us on our journey.  We will find a new normal for ourselves.  Forcing us to “get over it” and “be done” because it is more comfortable for a non -grieving parent does not help. Instead, it hinders our journey and takes us on a path we shouldn’t even be able to go down. 

Many of us, if not all, want to have a sense of new normal as well.  The pain is unbearable and we would like to smile.  We do appreciate so much more than you may think.  Our tears and sadness are not due to our inability to have pleasure; but due to the inability to hold our child(ren) again.  Please don’t confuse the two.

And please, think just a moment before you say or don’t say something.  Sometimes, saying “I don’t know what to say,” is a perfectly ok response! We don’t always know what to say to each other either.  We do, however, give a lot of hugs to each other as often as possible.