Since Sage died our family has embarked on a journey we had never traveled before. So we were new to this type of grief and have learned many things.
As the grandparent you feel like your grief is compounded. Not only have I lost my grandson but my daughter as well. It’s the most heart wrenching thing to watch your child suffer. The pain associated with the loss of a child is not only emotional but physical. Some day’s it hurts to breathe. It’s almost as if my daughter died that day too because she is not the person she was the day before her son died. A part of her died with him that day.
Everyday I go to my Heavenly Father in prayer, sometimes all day, asking that I will be able to help my daughter and son-in-law through this difficult time. In my efforts to find answers for Crystal I have reached out, via the internet, to many mother’s who have also lost a child. Not only have I found myself trying to help my daughter but other mother’s daughters as well. I am shocked and saddened at how many babies die everyday and how hard it is for these mothers to find someone to talk to. They just want someone to listen. Crystal called me this morning and asked me if I would write about this on Sage’s blog.
One of the most recent topic’s of discussion was how people have treated them after their baby died. All have sadly endured very insensitive comments. A few people are just rude and insensitive but I feel the majority of them just don’t know what to say. Therefore their comments come out sounding insensitive. They don’t mean to hurt but hurt it does. That’s what I wanted to write about and hopefully help people understand just what it is Crystal, and other grieving parents, need from their family and friends.
What Not To Say: The following are some comments made to Crystal and others I have talked to who have lost a child.
1. “Aren’t you over this yet?” -NO and I never will be. I have been thrown into this new world. A world of living without my child. I will never get over it. Everyday I’m having to learn how to live in this new world of mine. My grief, as my love, has no end. My tears represent my love. Asking me to stop crying is like asking me to stop loving him/her.
2. “At least you have other children.” -They are not cookies! Well I had 5 cookies on this plate and now one is gone. Thank goodness I have 4 left. Here since I have 4 more do you want one? This is my child you are talking about. While I am thankful for all my children I love and miss this one. I want all of my children with me. I want to see ALL of them on Christmas morning opening their presents, I want to see his name on the kindergarten graduation program or a wedding invitation, instead his name is carved on his head stone.
3. “They are in a better place” - Yes Yes this is true. But even the most religious of us don’t want to be told this. We know where they are and we really don’t need to be reminded of it. The fact remains we want them with us, in our arms to love, hold and kiss. Heavenly Father understands this. It’s okay to miss them it is okay to cry doing so doesn’t mean we lack faith or that we don’t know where they are.
4. “Your young you can have another one” -While that may be true each child is different. They are individuals and unique. You can not replace one with another!
5. “You still cry?” -Dah…he’s still dead. Guess what he will remain that way until Christ comes so expect the parent to cry up until that moment.
6. “Your going to bury him? Why? He was only 8 months old!” - Well what in the world do you want us to do with his body? Should I throw him in the garbage? Tell me you really didn’t just ask me that?
7. “At least you didn’t know him very long it will be easier to get over him” -There is no timeline on grief. Parent’s will never “Get Over It”. See #9
8. “We have some scrap wood may be we can make him a box” -no matter how old the child is the parent is entitled to the funeral they feel that child deserves. Whether they want to buy the most beautiful casket out there, make them a hand made casket or cremate them it’s their choice. Please don’t trivialize their wants/needs at this time. The funeral is about the parents/family honoring their child in the way they see fit. The funeral and head stone is the last physical act of service they can provide for their child on this earth. It’s important to them so don’t make them feel guilty for wanting a nice casket/funeral.
9. “Your lucky you really didn’t get to know them after all you only had him for ______ weeks/months” - When I looked into the face of my newborn babies I had this unexplainable feeling of “Hay I know you! or Deja Vous” it was as if I had always known them. By the way Deja Vous is French for “again you”. I couldn’t imagine living my life without them or really even remember what life was like before they came along. A mother is connected to their children before they ever give birth to them. All a parent is thinking about when that child dies is all the things their child will miss out on and that they were robbed of getting to experience all their “Firsts” and that the parents were robbed of getting to watch them experience life. They are not thinking, “Oh thank goodness I only had you for 8 months because if I had known you longer it would have been much harder.”
10. “Oh I know how you feel after my ________ (Divorce, dog died, grandma died,) - Please do not trivialize their pain. Listen to them, be there for them and be IN THEIR moment not yours. While divorce or death of any kind is painful it can not be compared to the pain of losing a child. Every death and situationi is different. What Crystal and I have wanted to say back is “Oh really well I had a hang nail once!”
11. One mother received a phone call as she was walking out the door to view her daughter’s body. The caller, her own mother, said, “Aren’t you feeling better YET?” - There is no time limit on a persons grief. Time does not heal. Time does not make the pain go away. But to say this to a mother barely 24 hours after her daughter died is unimaginable.
12. “Your just having a funeral to get sympathy” - “Really? Are you serious?”
13. And the most cruel comment ever “SIDS doesn’t exist you killed your baby” -Yes believe it or not this has been said to many parents of SIDS, SUID, and SUDI babies. It’s just plain cruel and so far from the truth. These parents feel guilty enough. Did my child suffocate? Did they have a heart condition I didn’t know about? Was there something I missed? How could I not know my child was in trouble? Why didn’t I wake up or notice he wasn’t breathing sooner? I should have had a sleep monitor in his room! They are torturing themselves enough.
14. “I could never lose a child. I don’t know how you do it” - This is said a lot. I know there is no harm meant by it but to the grieving parent this is what they are thinking. “I didn’t choose to do this it was chosen for me. I didn’t have a choice in the matter so what choice do I have but to “Do This”.
15. “Now you know what a mom feels like when she sends her son on a mission” -Yes there are many similarities. We know Sage is on a mission but his mother won’t be receiving emails every Wednesday, letters or a phone call on Mother’s Day and Christmas. His mother can not mail him a care package or birthday gift. He will not be returning in two years. His mother does not have the hope of seeing him get married and become a father. Instead the parent who’s child died is thinking, “Oh tear! Your child is on a mission…how sad for you.” They are biting the inside of their cheeks in an effort to not say their thought out loud. After all they wouldn't dream of hurting your feelings.
The things grieving parents want the most - Don’t forget their baby. Don’t be afraid to talk about their child. Just hearing someone say their child’s name comforts them. Their child died they don’t have the plague. We understand that most people don’t know what to say to someone after a death but don’t see them in the grocery store, park, or church and turn around and walk the other way in an effort to avoid an uncomfortable/sad moment. Just love them and be compassionate and patient. Say hello. Just be a friend.