This week has produced several new members of this club -- the one that no one has asked to join. Because we have so many new mamas who have popped into our lives, I have decided to pull up a few writings from the past. I'm in the process of sorting through the 62 blog notes and trying up label them in order to create an actual website that allows best access to resources. If you have any desire to help reread through all of this and help, pop me a note! :).
The circus that is created after a child dies is overwhelming. The community doesn't know what to do but their true compassion rings through as the family is cushioned with love and gifts of food and flowers. WE don't even know when to do-- I think of the people who guided me in those early days. Our behaviors are often unexpectedly unusual and often cannot be understood by others.
These were my thought of the circus almost two years ago-- read and send me your thoughts as well girls. We are a group of people who are seeking to find hope during tragedy. I feel that it's our responsibility to toss sparks of light to those who are in the middle of darkness. Where you are now, you will not always be. Blessings to each of you....
When a child dies, there is a bit of a circus that occurs. The love and support of friends and the community is very apparent but can also be overwhelming during a funeral. After the funeral when the first few weeks have passed, the support that you feel frequently will change over time. The flowers and plants die and the cards in the mailbox stop and your house becomes oddly and eerily silent. It is very common for most people to not have a clue of what to say! They come to the funeral and send a card and bring a casserole. All of those things are wonderfully supportive actions but you may need more.
Think about it... How would they know what to say? We don't want them to ever understand... really... The only way to know is to live through this nightmare and we wouldn't wish this on anyone. So with that being said, I think it's totally appropriate and important to guide and teach people about grief. Guide them in what you need for them to do.
I was really surprised when I went back to work and walked down the hall and no one LOOKED at me. Suddenly, everyone needed to check the time on their watch to avoid eye contact. The truth is, it HURT them to look at me. Where did the EYES go? I felt alone because no one understood. Also, one physician that I work with was actually honest with me when he said- "You are living my worst nightmare and quite honestly, I've avoided you. Its embarrassing to say this but I don't know what to say." That was refreshing for me to hear because then I began to understand. Few would dare to ask me how I was doing because they were afraid that I would actually answer them or break into sobs.
Guide people. Teach them. It's ok to do that. Make them look at you. Tell them what you need.
After Logan died I was uncertain of how to respond when people would say - "We want the old Pam back." All I could think of was -- REALLY?! ME TOO!! Ya think I like this?!?!
You may notice groups of well meaning people who will cluster together and whisper - "So how's she doing?!" Well NOW I know that it is natural (I'll never say normal because it isn't normal to lose your child) but it's NATURAL to have every pore in your body to ooze out thoughts and rememberances and pain of your child who has died.
Now, quite honestly, when people ask me questions about a mama who I know who is grieving... "How's she doing?" I say - "She's exactly where she is supposed to be. She has been dropped off in a dark foreign land where she doesn't speak the language and doesn't know how to get out. Its frightening. She's absolutely devastated. Devastated but trying to redefine normal."
Additionally to note.... I think it's important to maintain your privacy. I remember being at the grocery store and watching people glance my way and whisper. I felt like my life had become very public. If ANY person wants to know the details of the events that occurred and all of the horror, DO NOT TELL THEM. TRUE friends care about how YOU AND YOUR FAMILY are DOING NOW. Not DETAILS of the horror. It's no ones business what is happening in your private lives unless you desire to tell them. Keep your circle small- especially if there are legal issues regarding your child's death. I will rarely ever ask any details about the death of a child because how the family is functioning is most important. One more personal thought--- I know several mamas who have lost their children and the media has become involved. It is a rare occurrence that the media will get the details correct regarding the death of your child and its my personal opinion- "do not feed the animals." The more you give the media, the more they want. You didn't ask to be in the headlines so DON'T! Be quiet to them and they will leave.
So to wrap up these "all over the board" thoughts....
1) People are truly innocently ignorant. Well meaning though. You scare them!!
2) Those that don't really care will fade away and gossipers will be easily identified
3) Take this opportunity to help them understand and educate. I think facebook can be a perfect medium for this. Pray before you post. Put lots of thought into your written words.
4) The death of your child isn't pretty and grief is HORRIBLE and invasive and takes over every cell in your body.
5) You don't need an audience as they watch you and your family suffer. Allow genuinely caring people into your life.
The circus eventually will focus on others, but we still remain as odd remnants of the horrible loss that brought us to this place. Disconnected from everything around us. This is the time to vow to learn how you and your family will redefine normal.
Hugs to each of you...