Day 6. What Not To Say Have you had something terrible said to you in the wake of your loss, write it on a piece of paper – photograph it – vent it.
My thoughts: I struggled with this one. “What not to say”. This has to be one of the biggest topics that fellow grieving moms share as a frustration. I’ve read some horrible things that parents have endured from others. Some things so cold and hurtful that it leaves me wondering if they have feelings at all. That said I really have been surrounded by a community of caring friends and family who do their best to love me. Have there been hurtful things said? Absolutely. Have they ever been said with the intention of hurting me? Never. I had one horrible experience with an insensitive dental hygienist but it’s not worth my energy to focus on that.
On brief comment one of the hardest moments to endure for both myself and my husband has had to be, “CONGRATULATIONS!”, always said by those not close enough to us to realize that we lost them all. For my husband this has been upon his return to work. For me it’s been when their due date has passed and I see casual acquaintances who don’t know any better (like at the dentist). Most of these people have had the “appropriate” awkward silence/shock/condolences. Only a few have been shockingly rude.
The silence is also equally as painful. Again read more below. This year in Early Childhood Education for my daughter I put her name and birthdate on my name card and included “+5 angels” after it and acknowledged them in our introductions. The next get to know you time included conversation with a woman who proceeded to look at my card and say, “and you have one child?” No. I have six. It’s ok to speak about them.
That said I will say this: please please please think about the words you say to a grieving parent. See more on that below.
Sorry this is getting long. Instead today I chose to focus on “what not to say to YOURSELF” as that’s often much worse. I’m hoping that it causes awareness for the sometimes horrible lies that we tell ourselves in the midst of grief and pain. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing things that our heart knows are lies. On dark days they come and I try to immediately call it like it is. THAT’S A LIE! But they exist and I’m often ashamed to admit that. If you’re a parent who’s lived this maybe it helps to know you’re not alone in this. Please don’t believe the lies in your head. Call them out. Name them. Let them go. Cling to the things that you know are truth regardless of the pain they might cause.
• “It’s my fault.”: I did EVERYTHING I could to save my children. I have five babies in Heaven and I’d give anything to have them in my arms today.
• “I couldn’t have done it anyway.”: I had/have no idea how I would have raised triplets. But people do it. And more than that I know I have an amazing circle of support that would have helped me through every challenge. I know that more today after the love we’ve seen through this loss.
• “I told God I couldn’t handle a disable child and he took her away.”: When we found out Alice had so many physical conditions that would have limited her abilities IF she lived, it broke our heart in ways we can’t explain. We lived that for two weeks. We made arrangements to be transferred to MAYO to have the world’s best surgeons available to help her. There are parents around the world who have faced these challenges and lived joy with those children. I still doubt my own strength to handle something like that and yes, I’m ashamed to say there have been times that I’ve specifically prayed NOT to endure that. Would I take her challenges to have her back? In a heartbeat.
• “I can’t handle my 3-year old. Why would He give me 3 more?”: There have been many days filled with the frustrations of a 3-year old pushing limits. I think my husband has felt this one too. We have one child here to raise and there are so many times that we feel like we’re doing a miserable job. Being the parent you want to be in the midst of grief is a challenge to say the least. He didn’t have to give them to me at all. I don’t have answers for why they’re with God and not in my arms, but I can’t believe that they’re gone based on that. I still struggle with this one at times wondering if we should try for more if we still struggle with a feisty toddler.
• “Loving them isn’t worth the pain.”: In the darkest moments I feel this way. I wouldn’t have to bear this if they never existed. I pray that in time I can feel the love that they’ve placed in my heart stronger than the pain. I know that the pain will never be gone. So many parents wonder how their heart can have enough love for more children when they have one at home that they’d do anything for. I know that my heart did grow and my love for them is equal to that of their sister here. I celebrate knowing that I will see them in Heaven and imagine what that day will be like with joy and sorrow mixed. I’d do anything for them. I just wish it wasn’t living apart for so long.
• “I don’t know why I prayed for more.”: I prayed for more for the same reasons I prayed for one. I’ve wanted to be a mother my entire life. I cherish the love I have with my husband and look forward to the family we will have in the future and the relationship I will have with my daughter. I look forward to seeing her grow through God’s love and teaching her about Him. I want a sister and brother for her. This one rolls into the above paragraph quickly but I change my focus to the love as often as I can. My heart hurts so desperately only because of the love I have for them.
SIX YEARS AGO TODAY: I was enjoying my friend’s wedding day believing that the baby I was carrying was a chemical pregnancy – only to find out later it was very much still alive, but growing in my fallopian tube. I danced and drank and enjoyed the night not knowing (I’m thankful for that). My dress that had been taken in months prior had to be taken out to fit my growing waistline and the seamstress didn’t know what to say.