Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I just recently joined an online group for grieving parents. I'm almost 8 years out from Evan's untimely death, and one would think that might be plenty of time for a parent to "get over" the loss of a child. It makes me think of something I discussed with a psychologist in those early days: you don't get over the loss, you get through it. It never goes away, although for me at least, the burden has become easier to bear. After reading some of the writings of those who have just recently lost their child, I see how far I've come. It's easy to think that I "should" be further along in my grief journey, but reading the anguish, the anger, the need for understanding in those posts makes me remember how hard that first year was, and how far I've truly come. It also makes me think of the times where I felt like I had to make concessions. People don't get it. They don't understand how it feels to lose a child. They compare it to someone they lost in an effort to sympathize. They are trying, at least! I think many people want to help explain a death that seems so unnatural. They feel like they need to answer the question, "Why?" "Everything happens for a reason" seems to be a favorite. "God needed him for something special" Oh, are you that tight with God that He's telling you His plans for me? I had a friend feel that it was necessary to remind me of what Evan was like when I guess I made things seem a little too perfect one day. Yes, I remember things weren't perfect. I remember far better than you! Did I respond to any of these comments? No. I didn't really "grin and bear it," but I did feel like I was making a concession in a way. You can't possibly understand what I'm going through and I really can't explain it. The only way for you to "get it" is for you to lose your child, and I would never wish that on anyone! So, what's a person supposed to say to a grieving parent? That's difficult, because we're all different, of course. Just being there is huge! Not running off, because you are uncomfortable. Listen. Say, "I'm sorry this has happened to you." Don't be afraid to talk about the child. Everyone is so afraid that it will hurt us. It does! But it would hurt more for him not to be remembered. The one comment that really stands out for me came from a friend (who is not a parent.) She said that she hoped that I would find comfort in my many wonderful memories of Evan. For me, this was perfect.