I have been told several times in the past month that I am too quick to assume people have the worst intentions when they make statements regarding my son’s death. That I need to assume that whatever they are saying is in love even though it doesn’t sound like it.
Like, “Oh, he was sick? Then I guess it’s for the best he died.”
Or, “You’re young. Just have another baby. Everyone else does.”
I don’t find these loving statements, and I don’t see how, saying these, you could really be making a sacrifice of love for a friend.
Worse are the friends and even acquaintances I have lost because my son died. As Elizabeth McCracken puts it: “I am that thing worse than a cautionary tale: I am a horror story, an example of something terrible going wrong when you least expect it, and for no good reason, a story to be kept from pregnant women, a story so grim and lessonless it’s better not to think about at all.”
I have heard, through others, that some folks who used to talk to me or care about me have told them that since they don’t know how to approach someone whose child has died, they just won’t talk to me at all anymore.
I just can’t find the love in those statements. I am straining my will to find the “good intentions” behind these words, but I cannot. I don’t hear compassion, I don’t hear hope, I don’t hear sadness even. Discomfort, confusion, justification for heartlessness… yes, I hear those things.
I am trying, but it takes 99.9999% of my daily energy to get out of bed in the morning, put on my fake smile, and go tackle the infinitesimally inconsequential matters of the job world. (Yes, I actually do believe my job matters to the functionality of the places I work; what I mean is that the death of a child puts a completely different perspective on what-matters-in-life, like what is actually going to stick around FOREVER and not just be a function of a cog in a machine like the job world is.) It takes more strength than I can muster to carefully sift, filter, and touch up the thoughtless comments of others.
So, in light of this, I found a good article I wish more people would read. Actually, not read. I wish more people would consume it: chew on it a while, get to know what it is, digest it, use it.
The I’m-struggling-to-be-an-optimist-when-it’s-been-nine-months-and-life-still-sucks in me says maybe people will pay attention and care and recognise that 9 months is not “enough” time to get over the death of an entire lifetime of a child. As long as my peers feel like their children are important enough to talk about, post pictures of, take off work for, that’s how long my child will be important to me, too.