UnhelpfulPosted: May 2, 2013 Filed under: The Story of a Mother, War and Peace 7 Comments
I know you mean well. And I don’t want to demean your intentions or offend you – but, at the same time, I don’t want to spend effort making sure you don’t feel bad. So please politely note these things that aren’t helpful for me to hear.
At least you have two healthy kids. It’s precisely because I already have two kids I adore that I wanted to have another one. I know what I’m missing out on by not getting to see Christian grow up. Plus, although Evan understands that I’m sad, it doesn’t stop him (or June) from needing me to be involved in everyday life. Most days I feel like shouting, “If you ask me to get out of bed to make you ANOTHER peanut butter sandwich I am going to SCREAM!” (And peanut butter sandwiches are pretty easy, guys.) Having two kids means I have to put my grief on hold a lot of the time.
Isn’t it a miracle that any babies are born healthy? Imagine that someone lost their husband in a car accident. Would you tell them, “When you think about how dangerous cars are, it’s amazing that most people aren’t killed in car accidents!” Of course not, because hopefully you’d recognize how NOT COMFORTING that statement is. It feels like rubbing it in my face to tell me I should just be grateful for the miracle of life. It didn’t work out this time – and that sucks.
Do you think you’ll have another? When? Again with the husband-died-in-a-car-accident comparison – can you imagine asking that person if they’d considered getting remarried? And how soon? I think the mentality is that one baby could replace another. Not even a little bit.
He was just too perfect to stay here. I don’t care. I want him back.
God must have needed him more. I don’t care. I want him back.
Now you have an angel watching over you. I don’t care. I want him back.
You’ll get over it eventually. Not a chance. I doubt I’ll always experience the loss the same way, but it will always be a part of my life.
I suppose now I should tell you some helpful things to say . . . how about:
I’m so sorry. Me too.
I wish I could make it better. Me too.
I’m so glad you got to hold him. Me too.
I’m trying to get used to the emotional ups and downs. Tuesday was horrible and I cried almost all day; Wednesday was great; today has been both good and bad. I’m tired and grouchy and lonely and so sad. I don’t want to deal with Evan and June – which makes me feel guilty for being a bad mom, which makes me (irrationally) think maybe that’s why I lost my baby. Then I’m so drained that I can’t deal with Evan and June, leading to more guilt and sadness until I shut down.
This is exhausting. And so much harder than I could have ever prepared for.
P.S. I should point out, before you go overboard and start buying anything you find with a dragonfly on it, that I started yesterday’s post by saying I’m picky.
Sending lots of love! There may be nothing harder than this. Nothing anyone can say or do will comfort your breaking heart. This I know first hand. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. People will tell you to take it one day at a time, I say literally take things one moment at a time. Try not to be too hard on yourself and let me know if you need anything.
Why would anyone say that one? Or that? That one’s ridiculous. And—
Oops, I’ve said that one. I’m sorry.
You’ve maybe heard the saying, “The more unique you think your experiences are, the more likely they’re universal.” Besides the fact that these blog posts are amazing in their insights and candor, they are an incredibly powerful way for other people to know they’re not alone.
And that it’s okay to be sad & cry about sad things.
And it’s also okay to be happy about happy things.
And when those happen at the same time, it’s really confusing, and that’s okay too.
I’m so sorry. I wish I could make it better. I’m so glad you got to hold him, and that his grandparents could be there, too.
But I’m also so glad, and so grateful, that you continue to share this experience, and all of the emotions that go with it. As I’ve reposted links to the blog, people say things like:
* “Thank you so much for sharing that! I belong to a group of professional photographers; we’ve been looking for ways to do good in our community. The information about ‘Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep’ was both touching and timely. We will definitely be volunteering.”
* “Thank you so much for sharing that! I thought nobody could possibly know what it’s like to lose a child. I have had no idea what to tell people who want to grieve with me, and this really helps.”
* “Thank you so much for letting me see this blog! I ignored my kids for too long as I read day by day their feelings about baby Christian. This was so touching! So many similarities to when we had our sweet baby [stillborn] but so, so many differences. So beautiful and life changing.”
Don’t worry about expending any effort making sure I don’t feel bad, but do know that I and many of my friends are awed by you, inspired by you, and even sometimes cry with you, but more than anything else, are grateful to you.
Thank you so much for sharing. I love you, sis.
You are absolutely right on every point. When I lost my baby after a day, some people actually said “It’s good that he didn’t live very long, so you won’t miss him so much.” I don’t see how losing him could have been any more painful, but I would have accepted 100 times the pain just to have had him with me a little longer.
For those closest to you, your pain is our pain, because we can’t do anything directly to relieve it, can’t borrow it, can’t hide it, can’t carry it for you. But we continue to love you, to pray for you to have increasing moments of peace in the midst of sorrow, and to have the strength and courage to keep moving forward. Brian said perfectly what I feel: I am awed by you, inspired by you, and at unexpected moments, I cry with/for you. I am grateful to you for sharing your experience the way you are, by posting here. Even as you grieve, you are giving hope and comfort to others who have struggled with their own losses, and that is no small thing.
Thank you for being a woman of faith, a woman of God. I could not be more pleased to be your father.
P.S. Despite your pickiness, I AM going to send you a couple of photos of dragonflies that I have taken. Nice thing about digital pictures-you don’t have to find a place to put them on the wall, and they are easy to dispose of.
I relate and I’m so sorry for you.
I totally agree with you–people can be really unhelpful, I hated when people would say certain remarks to me and my husband after the loss of our son. I found the following on a blog that I could totally relate to– you may or may not agree with some of them but thought I’d share it in case you found something comforting in it. Sending lots of love.
What I Wish Everyone Knew
I wish everyone knew that this hurt never goes away. We still need support, and I still need to hear my son’s name. Now, even more than before, I NEED to have his life validated.
I wish everyone knew ….that even though my baby’s death was the most painful experience of my life, I am grateful for the pain, and I would still choose to have him even knowing that it would end the same….and I would give anything to cuddle him in my arms again, if only for a brief moment.
I wish everyone knew… that my heart leaps with joy every time someone asks me about my baby.
I wish everyone knew that a baby’s age or size at birth or death does not determine how much of a person he was or how much he will be loved or missed.
I wish everyone knew that losing a tiny baby is just as difficult and painful as losing any other child.
I wish everyone knew how much I need to talk about my baby, and how happy it makes me when someone asks about them.
I wish everyone knew the struggle that I go through everyday to answer the simplest questions, like: How many children do you have?
I wish everyone knew it is ok to talk about my loss.
I wish everyone knew that I think of my baby all the time.
I wish everyone knew that I have completely changed because of my experience.
I wish everyone knew how much I love and miss my baby
I wish everyone knew how much I need to talk about him and remember him.
I wish everyone knew what it felt like to hold him, still, perfect, breathtaking and have to leave him.
I wish everyone knew what it felt like to long for just 1 more second with their baby. Maybe then they could truly cherish all the billions of seconds they get with theirs.
I wish everyone knew that us mommies who lose our babies carry them with us everywhere we go…for the rest of our lives…and to say we are changed…is putting it rather lightly.
I wish everyone knew and appreciated what an absolute miracle each and every child is, from conception to birth, viable and enviable.
I wish everyone knew that even though I can smile and go to work and “function” like everyone else, I’m not like everyone else.
I wish everyone knew that even if you don’t know what to say to me, saying nothing at all is more painful than you can imagine. Ignoring me and never speaking to me again because it makes you uncomfortable to be around me is worse than being uncomfortable or saying the wrong thing.