The other night I wrote, and shared a blog about what most of society considers the “uglier” aspects of grief. I use the word uglier, not because I think it is, but because that is how most “less than happy” emotions are labeled. Even though they are a natural part of the human experience! Especially, child loss. So many people, these days rush through their down emotions, brush them aside, or even medicate them away. Tonight, I’d like to share my thoughts on one of these aspects, in particular.
(Note: I do not consider taking medication, properly, a bad thing. I think it can be helpful. Though, if abused, it can be counterproductive to digging in and working through life’s phases.)
In talking about the “ugly emotions” I have two goals:
First, I hope to help people who care about a grieving parent to understand why this part of our journey is important. It can not be rushed. All the emotions need to be acknowledged and worked through.We can’t fake happy to make you more comfortable. To heal, we must examine and come to an understanding of each aspect of child loss.
Second, I need the grieving moms to know it’s ok to have these negative emotions. You aren’t wallowing. You aren’t doing anything wrong. You are allowed to be mad, sad, jealous, bitter. All these reactions are completely normal. Do what your soul tells you to do. Let the emotions take you where you need to go, and if it gets to be too much, reach out.
I know what I am about to write, is going to both upset, and confuse many readers. I expect it to. It still confuses me! And, many of you, have said to me the exact thing I am going to share. I’ve told you NOT to think that way. In all honesty, though, there are times when I do feel like this. Here goes:
“Your trivial life stuff pisses me off. Listening to you lament on things, that after losing a child seem unimportant, really gets under my skin.”
Whew! There!!! Feels so good to get it out! But, wow, does it sound petty!! And, dismissive, right? Which I don’t like to be. But, I have to be honest about the reaction I’ve sometimes had. A reaction that I didn’t keep quiet in the first years after losing my child. There were many a time when I angrily confronted the person who was complaining about their life.
“Really? You are gonna crybaby? Try losing a kid.” Yikes!!
No wonder people stopped talking about their lives around me. I would have, too. I mean, who’s gonna try to trump that card? But, when I did it enough, said they should stop talking about small (by my perception) problems, the ones who stuck around stopped sharing their lives ups and downs altogether.Which isn’t really what I wanted. Yet, that’s the effect it had.
If they didn’t stop sharing . . . they always started the conversations with, “I know this doesn’t compare . . .” or “I shouldn’t be complaining after what you’ve been through . . . “
Though I know it was meant to acknowledge my feelings, it left me very sad, and feeling small. My words, my reactions, were telling people I didn’t think their issues were important. Just as I needed acknowledgement, so did they. I remember a day, a handful of years ago, when I was talking to my son, Gabriel, about this. Wise beyond his years, he said . . . “their worst thing isn’t the same as yours, but it still their worst thing.”
Yep. He was completely right.
I’d like to say, from that day forward, I never felt that way again. But, I can’t. Because I did . . . and still do, though not nearly as often. And,know what? It’s completely natural to do so!!
I am going to let you in on a little secret here:
Bereaved mothers are continually trying to fit the truth, of their child’s death, into their lives. Every single aspect of our lives, in one way or another, has been affected by our child dying. We vocalize our loss to help us accept it. Our life, for a very long time, is defined by this loss.
To us, the life you have with your complete family, is perfect. We think: if my child was alive I would never complain. But that isn’t true. Real life, everyone’s real life, warrants complaining. Everyone has hardships. Ups and downs. Difficult times. In our heads . . . we know this, I know this. In our hearts, though, it’s a completely different story.
At first, I didn’t apologize for my outbursts. I was full of anger and pain. Eventually, I was able to occupy a space in which I could more fully embody my son’s words of wisdom. I am at a point, now, where I no longer need to tell someone to walk in my shoes and see how bad things can really get. It’s unnecessary and doesn’t serve my healing. Know this: it took a very long time for me to get here. Grieving momma, you’ll get there, too.
This journey takes so much grace and patience. Both, for ourselves and our supporters.
Mommas, be gentle with yourself. Be forgiving when you feel you’ve “done something wrong”. Chances are you haven’t. And, if you have, it’s ok . . . we all do it. Treat your soul with grace. Be patient while the new you fights to break the surface. I promise, in small ways, you’ll start to grow into who you’ve become.
Our supporters: have patience with us. We are hurting . . . we lash out. We have been broken . . . it’s hard to find the pieces to rebuild. We are lost and are desperate to find our way. Your whole family, intact, makes the hole in ours more real. We can be jealous. But, we are doing the best we can.
In closing, our pendulum was violently swung in the highest arc possible. It takes some time for it to slowly come to rest back in the center of things. If we offend, we are sorry, most of the time. If we hurt you . . . we need to know.