This article is beautifully written ~ the eloquence she writes with is beautiful. I think anyone who has a lost a child, a baby, a piece of their soul will appreciate this article ~ and everyone who has not lost a child, a baby, a piece of their soul should read it....if for nothing else than to gain a smidgen of insight. I have bolded the parts that I was (inwardly) shouting ~ "YES!" to ~ and the part about "empathy based on the death of a pet" ~ oh my goodness ~ YES! I had a friend call the day I birthed Emelia and say "I'm so sorry you lost the baby" and then went on for another 30+ minutes about how she had to put her dog to sleep and how sad she was about that, so I, who am trying to hold it together, ended up comforting her over the death of her dog. Yes I understand pets are special ~ but pets are not human nor do they have souls ~ nor are they your own flesh and blood. Well before I start ranting and raving like some kind of lunatic.....Here is the article:
Last year on Mother's Day, my blond, blue-eyed spitfire of a daughter, Eliza, wrote on a card "5 Reasons I Love My Mom":
5. She's pretty.
4. She makes me laugh.
3. She takes care of me when I'm sick.
2. She always knows how to make me feel better when I am sad.
1. She makes it hard to just write 5 things!
But this Mother's Day, there was no card from Eliza. There was only anguish. Because Eliza is no longer with me. I lost her the day after Christmas.
Two weeks later, I joined the local chapter of The Compassionate Friends of Tallahassee, a self-help bereavement organization for those who have lost a child. This incredible group of people who have experienced the worst life has to offer are the reason I know I will feel whole again someday.
Unlike other parents in this group, because my daughter was born with a congenital heart defect, I always knew losing her was a possibility.
But as Becky Barch, who lost her 16-year-old son, Jonathan, in a car crash, says, "There is no imagining it."
The loss is all-consuming. We will never be the same. And we want no new members.
The second Monday evening of each month, a small room graciously provided by St. Stephen's Lutheran Church fills with parents who have been dealt life's worst blow. We have lost children recently and long ago; children of all ages, from all causes. There is healing with others who know this seemingly interminable pain. We bare our souls, and the tears and words flow.
Sometimes the words aren't pretty. We rant at life's unfairness. We lament the loss of a future our beloved children will never know, the graduations and grandbabies that will never be. And sometimes we rant about "you."
Not you literally, of course, but those who don't understand the basic tenets of civility when it comes to offering condolences.
Platitudes like "She's in a better place" (would you prefer your child dead in that "better" place?), admonitions about how and how long we should grieve, and empathy based on the death of a pet don't comfort us. They just grieve us more.
We are the walking wounded, and words can bring us to our knees. I sobbed until my cheeks mildewed when someone told me that, because of my daughter's illness, she was "doomed from the start."
Sometimes condolences can be stupefying. Had I not already been numb, the fact that someone actually e-mailed me "As ET would say ... ouch" on the very day my daughter died, I might have offered up a finger other than ET's pointer in response.
The insensitivity can't be ascribed to a lack of intelligence. The former comment can be attributed to a professor and the latter to a local attorney. Ironically, I received one of my most poignant and heartfelt condolences at an event sponsored by Pyramid Studios, the creativity bastion in this town for the developmentally disabled.
I was reeling after that evening's performance, because two women I have known for years and who knew about Eliza said nothing to me about her.
Then, a beatific friend of my little brother who, like him, has Down syndrome, came up to me and asked to speak to me in the hallway. She took me aside, hugged me, and tearfully told me how sorry she was to hear about Eliza's passing.
Sometimes I wonder if society has adequately assessed who is "challenged," because that lovely young woman is anything but.
Conversely, the silence of the two mothers was deafening. While I may be hurt by what is said, even I believe saying the wrong thing is better than saying nothing. As Miss Manners allows, "No one feels comfortable with the awesome task of trying to comfort the bereaved."
But comforting those who have suffered the loss of a loved one trumps the comfort level of those who have not.
We want you to understand that we have lost our children, not our love for them. We want you to understand is they will always be our children, just as your children will always be your best beloveds. Our greatest fear is that you will forget that they were here.
Saturday, The Compassionate Friends will observe 30 years of helping people like me get through what most agree is the worst thing that can happen to anyone.
From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Dorothy Oven Park on Thomasville Road, we will we hold a butterfly release and reunion dinner. It may be daunting to attend, but we warmly invite anyone — parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend — who has loved and lost a child to join us to celebrate that precious life. There will be fun, food, music and dancing as we remember the joys that were our children.
To be fair, we know it is hard to say the right thing to someone who has lost a child. Miss Manners offers this very simple solution. She calls it "the all-purpose answer."
Just say, "I'm so sorry." Or, in my case, I would love to hear, "I am so sorry about Eliza," because I long to hear the name that is dearer to me than any other. I need to know that you understand she was and is so very cherished and always will be. In that way you will afford me the ultimate kindness of warming my forever-broken heart.