The Grey Area, Part 1
It has been over one whole year since we had to say goodbye to our sweet girl. Over the past year, I have learned a lot about myself and about the people who are around us. Some people have done and said some very helpful things-while some people have said hurtful things or just do things that hurt...rather than help. Knowing what to do or say can be a pretty grey area and my goal is to help people with similar situations by sharing our experiences.
So I thought I would share some things that may not be helpful to a parent who has lost a child. We have been through both a miscarriage loss and losing a baby we were able to love on for almost 11 whole months, so hopefully this can provide guidance on different levels.
Please keep in mind, this is according to us- what worked and didn't work for us is not a universal blanket. Every situation is different, every parent is different and every relationship is different...so adjust where and when necessary.
We have been surrounded with love and support and for that I am truly grateful. I feel like people have tried to say comforting things, but really they don't provide any comfort at all. In their defense, talking to a grieving parent can be tough, awkward and they mean well but simply just don't know what to say. From my experience, here a few things that you should stay away from:
1. At least you.... this was usually followed with "have Kaden" or "thank God you have Kaden." Yes, I am fully aware that I have an amazing son, and for that I am thankful. But to me, it comes off as the same feeling of 'if you had to pick one of your kids to have around who would you pick'...now that might not be what was implied, I'm sure. When we lost the baby, a medical professional told me (mind you, John was gone when I got the news that I would need surgery) "at least you can try again"...yes. I know that. But just don't go down that road.
2. In anyway, shape or form imply that you could have caught the reason why a parent lost their child. What was said to me: "Why didn't you do a blood test? Why didn't you ask the doctors?" We all know that parents do everything to keep our kids safe and some of us are not medical professionals. I'm just going to leave it at that.
3. Now, I love my friend's kids. They know that. However, right after Amelia passed (and even sometimes right now) it broke our hearts to be around baby girls that would be her age. If you have kids that would be the same age as your friend's who just passed, please be considerate and think about how it would feel to them. I know that they are not 'rubbing in my face' that they have their baby and I don't, I know this. But, someone was upset that I asked to not see her daughter because she was a few months older than Amelia, not even 2 weeks after her death. I also have friends who came to see us (even flew thousands of miles) and asked their own family or friends to watch their daughter to spare our hearts- which we appreciated more than words. It still is hard for me to see videos and pictures of the babies who were Amelia's friends and to know that she should be doing the same things. If someone is having a hard time with being around babies who would be similar in age, please cut them some slack.
4. Tell them "everything happens for a reason" or "it's God's plan". Now those of you who know me, I struggled hard with my faith last summer. I still am learning and some days I still struggle and some days not so much. However, telling someone those words- no matter their faith- immediately after a death or a loss, still can be hurtful. It may be part of God's plan, and maybe there could be a reason....but sometimes things just happen and we have to wait and understand. Give them their space on it and don't push it on them, if it is their belief system- let them come to it on their terms and support them on it.
5. Please don't try to compare stories, or take their feelings. While it may seem helpful to let them know that you understand- you may not. Someone said to me "they don't know how WE feel"...no. They don't. And neither did that person. You will never know how I feel losing Amelia and that is okay, because I don't know how John feels, or Kaden feels. Because we all have our own relationship with her and we all feel differently. Again, everyone has their own relationship. While you may have lost a child in miscarriage, you may not feel the same as what I did and I won't feel the same as you- and that is totally fine. Nobody wants to have a contest on who is hurting the most- because it is a horrible thing to go through.
6. Please....do not tell the grieving parent how hard it has been for you. Yes, our children are loved. We are fortunate for that. People have cried to me telling me how much they miss Amelia, how hard it has been for them. How hard holidays are for them, June 6th (her angelversary) and how hard her birthday is. Yes. Those days are terrible. Every day is a hard day for me personally. While I understand they can be tough for those who loved on her, but please- tell someone else besides the parents.
7. Just because a grieving parent is smiling or living life, does not mean that they are not hurting. Let me say that again for those in the back:
Just because a grieving parent is smiling, it does not mean that they are not hurting.
Every day hurts. Every. Day. I wake up without my child, I go to bed without her. I have to live my life without her. I wonder what she would be like right now-as we are coming up on what should be her 2nd birthday. I am smiling in pictures, I almost laugh every day too. Shortly after we arrived to California, one of my very best friends convinced me to come to the beach. Take a break from unpacking and try to breathe. So I did, and that was the first time I could genuinely smile. Because that one single moment was documented on social media, I got attacked by someone because I took the day off from answering texts and calls. Someone was profusely angry with me for not answering a message...but I "had time to go to the beach." What that person didn't see was how much energy it took for me to simply get myself out of the door that day.
Guys. If your grieving friend takes a moment to just 'be' and they don't answer your call or your text....give them some grace and tell them how amazing it was to see them smiling. Or if you can, go hold their hand and join them. Please do not get angry with them if they do something for their well being. Because it is hard to smile through tears.
8. This one might be tricky. Be mindful of the audience you speak to on certain topics. I want my friends to come to me when they have problems like they did when I wasn't a grieving parent. Being a parent is hard work. Having other friends who share the same morals, values and parenting styles is hard to come by sometimes so when one of us has a frustrating moment it is nice for us to have someone who just 'gets it'. However...please just be mindful on what you are complaining about and to whom you are complaining to. I kind of feel like you need to have a shift in perspective a little. Example: having a friend tell you "there is nothing worse than having your child projectile vomit all over you while having a fever being stuck in a hotel room"...true that is a really crappy thing to go through. Said to me right before her birthday. I can understand that and man, I feel for you. However...at the time of that comment...I may not have been the best audience to share that with. Because I would have taken my child doing those things, because she would have from the chemo being pumped through her tiny body. Fortunately she was spared from having to endure that because sadly, she was gone.
Well friends, I think that might be the big points. Some of these things might seem like they're no-brainers. I don't want to sound like a Debby-Downer on these things..but every one of these things happened to me. By me sharing these hard moments, I hope that I can spare another mom (and/or dad) from hurtful words as well. Get ready for part 2- where I will share at length the amazing things that helped us. If you're in a jam, just remember the moment we (probably) have heard from Thumper's mouth...