Supporting someone through grief

Dealing with the loss of a child is very tricky. It’s full of contradictions and mixed feelings. For the parent who has lost, and for the friends and family of said parent. Learning to live with grief is hard. Very hard. You think you have something figured out, and then you get blindsighted. But I also think that learning to live with and support someone in grief is hard as well. I don’t think that because you, the friend, family member, co-worker, spouse, neighbors, and so on and so on, haven’t suffered the same loss, you’re not learning and growing and trying to find a way to live with this as well. The name of this blog isn’t what it is because I think that you are all a village that centers around me, the griever. It’s our village, all the people who were impacted by Killian’s life. I’m sure that almost all of you were somehow effected by his life and death. So the grieving process is something everyone goes through. You now have to learn how to live with someone who is living with grief. We, the parent, have experienced a loss that has profoundly changed who we are as people. Learning to support that is not something can be expected to just know how to do.

I have a lot of friends who have young children, new babies, or are currently pregnant. I can imagine that it’s strange waters for them to navigate. They don’t want to seem ungrateful for their healthy babes. They don’t want to be too excited about their baby’s milestones or talk too much about them. They don’t want to “complain” about their kids colds or “minor” health worries. It’s all done in love. No one wants to rub salt into our wounds. Unfortunately it can also cause a disconnect from our friends. When our closest people are hesitant to share the big things in their lives out of fear of hurting us, it can sometimes do the opposite. Through a want to save us added pain, we sometimes end up feeling alienation.

I can tell you through my personal experience. That, yes, sometimes seeing babies close to the age Killian should be at can tug on my heart. It is painful. But I want to see those babies even with that pain sitting with me. I want to experience the joys and frustrations with you, my friend. Just because I was dealt a nasty hand, doesn’t diminish the joy I feel for you. I’m so so glad that your kids are here. That you have to deal with teething and sleep regressions and breast or bottle frustrations. I wish that I was dealing with those issues, with every fiber of my being. But i’m not. I can’t lie, sometimes when I hear anything but the joys of parenting, I feel a small twinge of irritation. But I fully recongnize that those feelings are stemmed from sadness and jealousy. I put them to rest, I don’t allow them to stay.  To expect people to never complain and have frustrations with motherhood is completely ludicrous. I remember it all of those feelings well. Although I crave it, I don’t want you to shield me from it. Like I said, the mixture of emotions throughout this grieving journey are on a huge pendulum.

It’s ok to not know how to act around us. I think it’s understandable. Being unsure of what to say or how to act around someone who has suffered unimaginable loss is to be expected. My advise to you would be to simply ask. Ask your person what they are ok with hearing and what they aren’t. Like i’ve said so many times, everyone grieves differently. What to one person is too painful to hear, is healing to another. By asking, with kindness and tact, you can better learn how to support, and help yourself learn. I’ve talked so much about destigmatising grief and death. If we could encourage the narrative around this tricky and unpredictable part of life, the strength of our connections and support could balloon.

So to my friends, please don’t ever feel like you need to shield me from your lives. I know i’m a little disconnected right now. I think that’s part of this process as well. But I love seeing your pictures and hearing your stories. If you have a question about something baby related, don’t ever be afraid to ask me. Although I don’t have all my babies with me, i’ve had the gift of carrying 3 babies to term, having a natural birth, an induction a          c-secton, a VBAC. I’ve breast fed, bottle fed and exclusively pumped. I’ve dealt with all the hardest parts of parenting. And just because I had to experience the one thing that none of us can imagine, I’m still just a mom, trying to do the best I can for my beautiful babes.

2 thoughts on “Supporting someone through grief

  1. I have tried to explain this to many of my friends…I have lost three children. My friends are nervous about speaking about and involving me with their children at times, thinking I will get uncomfortable or upset.

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    1. It really is tricky. I think some people want to be involved and some want to separate themselves. But I feel so disconnected from my friends when they don’t want to share with me.

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