“Lots of people say lots of things…Most of them are not comforting, and unless you are a Mother who lost a child, you will never know, further more, unless you are a Mother who watched her child suffer, you really will never know. So don’t judge, make assumptions, give advice, seek to understand or wonder when We will be back to ourselves, we won’t be. The best thing you can do, is keep my baby alive, talk about her every time you see me, and never stop. Make her brother feel special, because he is the most special amazing big brother, and always let him know that. And sometimes, you might just have to take a reaction that you might not like, but, It’s not about you. If you love us, you’ll understand. I guess that is what happens, some old relationships no longer work, because some people just are too selfish to adjust with you, and then comes the other side, New relationships bloom and people you never thought you could connect with are there.” http://alexamariesanner.wordpress.com/
What an emotional and turbulent journey grief is for a mother that has lost a child. You really do not know what to expect from one moment to the next. I have come to the realization that some people just don’t know what to say or how to act around those of us that have lost a child. I think it’s due to many reasons. But, I believe the most obvious reason is because they do not want us to break out into uncontrollable tears just at the mention of our deceased child’s name. I probably have assumed that other’s know exactly what to say to me, how and when to say it. However, it is impossible to be a mind reader. So, I created some suggestions on how to support a grieving mother after the loss of her child:
Things NOT to say:
“I can only imagine what you are going through.” Think about this statement for a minute. Someone saying this might mean well, however, it only makes the mom think to herself, “Well, you can only imagine because you still have your child.” Sometimes, a grieving mother might have an unintentional resentment regarding other mom’s still having their children alive. It can feel like a type of odd jealousy inside of our heads. And, there is not a grieving mother out there that wants to feel this way. They are just trying to get through all the pain that comes with the territory of losing a child.
“You are so strong.” Strength is something that most women naturally have once they become a mother. We just do what needs to be done for our children. Those of us that have lost a child might seem strong on the outside, but, the inside is so fragile and frail. We can appear strong only because we have to.
“I understand how you feel.” Until someone walks in your unfortunate shoes, they will never know exactly how it feels to lose a child. It cannot be compared to the loss of a parent, spouse, sibling or a friend. This is probably why mother’s like us find comfort in knowing they are not alone.
“(child’s name)” would not want you to be sad anymore.” Telling a mom who has lost a child this statement can be offensive. For many of us, the sadness, grief, etc., gives us something to hold on to. It helps us to stay connected with our child that we lost. However, this doesn’t mean that we will be sad all the time. And, I truly believe that our child that we lost understands and sends us comfort in special ways. Every time I see an orange butterfly it feels like it is Kayla saying, “I love you, Mom.”
“It is time for you to move on.” This statement is probably the worst thing you could say to a grieving mother. There is no moving on; you only get through it the best way you can. I am sure there are some that think this blog is completely unnecessary and it is time to simply let go of my loss. A grieving mother can not and will not ever let go. If someone is just too uncomfortable to read my blog, listen to a grieving mom ask, “Why?” for the millionth time or just do not want to think about the death of a child at all, then negative comments really should be kept to themselves.
Things OKAY to say:
“I am so sorry for the loss of your child, _(name)__.” Please don’t just say, “I’m sorry.” That child has a name and the mother never wants he/she to be forgotten. Sometimes just mentioning the child’s name will bring some comfort to the grieving mother.
“What can I do for you?” There is nothing anyone can do to bring your child back, which is what all of the grieving mother’s want. Some mother’s might want to just talk, cry, cuss, or punch a hole in a wall. And, some mom’s would like to talk about anything other than the death of her child. However, there is another way to cope; isolation. For some of us, it is very easy to withdraw and detach. If we do this, we can avoid everything and everyone and not have to worry about an uncomfortable or awkward situation. Mom’s that do this do not deliberately mean to be hateful or uncaring of those that love them. Distancing ourselves from the world can simply feel safe. I am very guilty of this behavior. But, I guess we each handle grief in different ways.
“I’d like to share my favorite memories of (child’s name) with you.” I will never get tired of family and friends sharing their memories of Kayla with me. Our first Christmas without Kayla, one of her good friends, Makenzy, stopped by our house and brought us a “Christmas Memory Tree.” It was a real/live miniature potted tree. She attached special memory cards of Kayla written by her close friends to the branches with red ribbon. Makenzy will never know how much that tree meant to me.
Hopefully, I have not offended anyone or made someone hesitate before speaking to a grieving mother. We are still the same people, but, now have a traumatic life change. But, if we don’t return phone calls or emails, live on Facebook, or seem to disappear at times, please don’t give up on us. We still need our family and friends and are so thankful for each and everyone of you 🙂