A few months ago a girl I hadn't seen in a long time came to me a church and after a short time of catching upon detail of her life, she asked about my kids. She asked about Jinaea and Jaron and said, "This can't possibly be Kyler!! He has gotten so big. Wow, and where is your baby? I can't wait to meet him or her! Did you have a boy or a girl?" I froze. What do I say? How do I tell her? Tears filled my eyes and the smile left her face. I told her that I had a baby girl. I told her a short version of what had transpired. Tears filling her eyes now too, she reached out and hugged me, "I am so very sorry!"
This weekend I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in many months. We were talking about babies and kids and she said, "You have four kids right?" Again, my brain raced, "How do I answer this? Here goes again..." I replied, "Our baby girl was born last summer but she was still born at twenty-two weeks."
A quiet, "Oh," from her, and then awkward silence.
I know I have some supportive, be-there-through-anything friends and the following things are not true of everyone. Please forgive me if any of this post sounds too presumptuous. I mean no insult. I found some of this list in a pamphlet on helping others through grief. It says what I have not been bold or courageous enough to say in those moments....
- I wish you would not be afraid to speak to me about what is going on in my life, and to ask what you can do to help. Even if it means I may shed a few tears.
- If I cry or get emotional when we talk about them (the person who has died), I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me. The fact that I have suffered a loss is what is causing my tears. You have allowed me to cry, and I thank you. Crying is healing.
- I wish you wouldn’t pretend that nothing is happening to me, because this is a large part of my life. I need my friends and family by my side.
- I will have emotional highs and lows, I wish you wouldn’t think that if I have a good day, my grief is over, or that if I have a bad day, I need psychiatric counseling.
- Grieving and what I’m going through is not contagious, so please don't shy away from me.
- I wish you knew that all of the “crazy” grief reactions I am having are in fact very normal. Depression, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and questioning are to be expected during and following what is happening to me.
- I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over if and when I appear to be smiling or happy.
- I wish you would understand the physical reactions to grief. I may gain weight or lose weight…sleep all the time or not at all…want to surround myself with business or be all alone, all of which may be related to my grief.
- Birthdays, anniversaries of big days, holidays, and the day I found out, are all terrible times for me. If I get quiet or withdrawn, just know I am doing my best to cope.
- It is normal and good that tough times make us re-examine our faith, values, and beliefs throughout this journey. We will question things we have been taught all our lives, and hopefully come to some new understandings, deeper, strengthened faith and a closer relationship with God.
- I wish you knew the only way I can get through grief is to experience it, and sometimes immerse myself in it. I have to hurt before I can heal.
- I hope you understand that grief and difficult situations change people. I am not the same person I was before I experienced this nor will I ever be that person again. If you keep waiting for me to “get back to my old self,” you will be frustrated. I am a new creature with new thoughts, dreams, aspirations, values, beliefs and goals. Please try and get to know the “new me”…maybe you will still like me.