I have enough loss mum friends that I’ve just about heard all of the “what not to says” under the sun. While most of them are well intentioned, some are not, and instead come from the observers’ own selfish desire to feel “comfortable”, with little regard for the feelings and day to day realities of the family directly affected.
“At least” The things people say after this phrase. The worst one I heard was – “at least you can have a baby. Such and such (who incidentally was not in a relationship nor trying to get pregnant) may never have a baby”. Oh, okay. My baby died but I should be grateful I can get pregnant when people who aren’t even trying to get pregnant, may not. Thumbs up for logic. And as everyone knows, once you’ve lost a baby you are certainly guaranteed another, healthy babe, and a stress free subsequent pregnancy 😐😐😐
“We don’t like talking about it” While I write a lot about loss, I don’t bring it up in deep context in day to day conversation with just anyone, partly because it is one component of my life and there are many other sides to my life, and partly because because I know exactly which people will freak out and clam up. Conversation ended, with me feeling like shit and like I should be ashamed for speaking about my own baby. But I WILL mention my child’s name. Forever. Because I love her, and she is a part of me, and she deserves to be remembered. That’s not going to change. You don’t like talking about “it”, well I don’t like living it, none of us do, but here we all are. And I’m always going to live my truth, own my truth, which Avery is a part of, and not succumb to falsities others may live by.
Kids and pregnancy The time after a loss when a mother is in deep grief after losing her child is not the time to contact her to complain about your kids/pregnancy. While we love you, and your children, it is very painful for us to hear about the day to day trials we have totally missed out on, and would willingly have given our lives to experience. Our child is dead, and we cannot relate at this point, we are slaying demons you hopefully will never understand. Just give us time and we will get back to ourselves. But for a time we may not be the friend we once were, it’s impossible to be, and it’s not personal, it’s grief. It’s loss. It’s recovery.
Don’t compare. Just don’t. It’s not the same as your pet dying, or your non-terminal non-critical illness, or your grandma dying, or your divorce, while all of those things can be excruciatingly painful. It’s just different. It is apples and oranges. We don’t compare, but feel we are forced to when people throw those kinds of comparisons at us defensively, or compare our presumed level of support to theirs.
Sometimes we are made to defend our grief and spend so much time having to defend it, that we aren’t working through it. Please, don’t ever do this to anyone who’s grieving, they have enough to carry.
Don’t judge. I felt judged, and was judged, by (thankfully only a couple of) people over things that were none of their concern. Choosing to have a memorial instead of a funeral, resulted in nasty comments from a couple of family members. They didn’t know I couldn’t bear to watch a tiny white coffin be lowered into the ground, because they didn’t ask. Also, a beach memorial was more us, and wasn’t OUR daughter’s funeral about her, and OUR loss of and love for her? People also felt they knew when was best for me to return to work or try to conceive another baby. They didn’t. I was judged for retreating and trying to survive. I was judged for not coping. And I was judged for not being who I once was. Not that I couldn’t help any of that. And I’ll probably be judged for this post.
The most painful thing I’ve felt by far was losing a child. A close second is the painful words what have come after that, and feeling betrayed, misunderstood and left behind by a few people I so loved and respected. I have noticed though, that these people usually had their own issues with grief or death, or other issues within themselves that made them incapable of extending support in an emotional capacity. I try to remember that when the memory of their words returns and I feel the sting.
Lastly, remember another person’s deeply personal loss and grief isn’t about you. Speak from a place of love and understanding, not judgement and assumptions, and it will be hard to go wrong.