Thursday, June 7, 2012

Loss for words...

One thing Nate and I have learned over the past 16 weeks is that people get nervous sometimes when they talk to us, especially if it is the first time we have seen each other since Declan's passing... I understand the awkwardness that people feel.  I think its only natural to be afraid to say something that will offend us or hurt our feelings.  Thankfully, Nate and I are fairly resilient people who, even in our time of grief, are level headed and know that no one is trying to hurt our feelings.  There are comments well meaning people say, in attempts to be helpful that just truly aren't helpful or healing in nature.  I have been thinking of commonly said 'comforter' statement that we have heard or that our group at Grief Share have talked about hearing... I think it's time to be honest and just get it out there that these comments don't provide the comfort you are trying to give... IF you have said this to me, please know I am NOT offended. Really!!  I just want to help people know what to say to someone who has lost a loved one in the future

* "It was God's will" or "It was God's plan" .... this statement makes me feel like I have done something to anger God and then I get mad at him and feel like I have been signaled out by God for not having been a better parent or person in life.  The truth is, I know God has plans and that our life has been determined prior to our birth, but to have you point it out doesn't feel good. 
* "It was meant to be"...  Meant to be by whom? God?  See above comment... 
* "He's in a better place now."... Your absolutely RIGHT, but I want him here with me!  I know heaven is better than here, but again, that knowledge doesn't help take away my pain OR make it ok that he passed away. 
* "Time heals all wounds"... maybe... I don't know if I would use the word 'heals'...maybe I would say time lessens the pain, but the scar will always be there and I will always miss him. 
* "I know how you feel."... nope, you don't. Not unless you have personally lost a child. 
* "At least you have other children"... is an explanation necessary here?  
* "Now you have an angel in heaven"... Truthfully, we don't become angels when we die....and even if we did, I still would rather have him here with me. 
* "God needed another angel."... Again, this makes me angry at God and right now I need Him more than I ever have, so I don't want to be mad at him.  
* "If you need anything, call me."... That is really nice, but I'm not going to call you.  I am not in a healthy state of being right now... You are....  CALL me.  Check in with ME.  If I am calling you, I am admitting I can't do this by myself and frankly, although I can't do it by myself, I like to think I can.  This comment might be really helpful to different people, so take my opinion here with a grain of salt. 
* "Everything happens for a reason" ... no matter the reason, nothing will ever make his passing 'worth it.'  I will never look at my life and say, 'Its a good thing Dex passed away because now I have this..." never! 

What are some comments you can make that are helpful and do provide comfort? What can you do to help someone cope? Good question and I will be the first to admit, when a child dies, there truly are no words that will provide comfort to the parents.  It is easier to say what comments people shouldn't say, but I think acknowledging the difficulty of knowing what to say is good.  Many, MANY people have said to us "I just don't know what to say" or "there are no words"... WE agree whole heartedly!  I do think however its important to remember that Declan's name will not bring me pain... it will not reminded me of his passing, I haven't forgot.... talking about him brings me joy.  It helps me when I know people still think of him.  I want to have that conversation!  I want you to ask about him and the other kids. 

Some of the most helpful things after Declan died was having people insist on helping us after the funeral...when people went back to their lives and we were left fumbling, putting one foot in front of the other.... a good friend made multiple meals for us. A neighbor also brought over supper a few times. My cousin came to my house and made me make her clean! It was GREAT... although difficult to ask her to do things I knew I should be doing. 

One phrase I think is safe... "I love you.  I am here for you. There are no words to express my sorrow at your loss" followed up with a hug!  Send random, for no reason, flowers to that person.  Several of my friends did that for me and I loved it.  Another friend of mine told me "I am going to call you and text you and be your stalker.  If you don't want to answer or talk, I won't be offended.  I need you to know that I am here for you."  I liked thatI think it is also important to remember people who have lost children (or any loved one for that matter) on special days.... birthdays, anniversaries (even if they are every Tuesday), mothers day, fathers day, holidays....and the like, by acknowledging their pain with a text message or call.  Nate's aunt and uncle continue to send us cards with little notes to let us know they are still thinking about us and we both appreciate that so much.  It's the little things that make the biggest 'feel good' moment! 

Truthfully, so many of you have done such wonderful things for us and have supported us beyond belief.  I have been surprised by many people over the past 16 weeks, both positively and negatively... and Nate and I could never, will never be able to express our gratitude for the kindness, love and compassion we have been shown by some of our closest friends, relatives and friends we haven't seen in years...we are humbled. 


  1. I have heard every one of those comments since Evy's passing and continue to hear them still 4 years later. Everytime you start a new job and they "find out" or now that I've started school and everyone wants to know how many children you have. I think one that makes me most angry is "oh, but honey...she's in a better place" and "you just have to love Shayauna that much more". Really? Or "think have shayauna and you need to stay strong for her". The two nicest things people did after Evy passed was one co-worker, who I didn't even talk to (and I'm getting goose bumps just thinking about it) had a star named after Evy and gave me the certificate with her name and star coordinates on it. It hangs on my livingroom wall. Another was my sister in laws friend sent us flowers to our home a week after Evy passed. All the flowers had wilted and looked so pathetic and here come these fresh flowers knocking at my door. Ok, there is a 3rd. :) My friend Amber went on vacation 2 years after Evy had passed and again didn't know me all that well and wrote Evylynn in the sand on a beach, took a picture of it and sent it to me on facebook. Money doesn't have to be spent, nothing bought, just a thought. I think of you daily Holle. We need to get back in touch. I will text YOU. :)

  2. Holle,
    I wrote pretty much the same post on my blog with a list of about the same. As you said, I know people mean well, but I'm all about educating them now. :) I will never forget the dear Chaplain at the hospital when Matt died. She didn't say a word, she just sat with me, holding me...for hours. And in the ten months since, I, too, have had a few good friends who just send me random pic's of McDonald's Mocha Frappe's (Matt's favorite) they stopped to get, or send small window catchers/figurines of cardinals (our *sign*...we've seen one every single day since Matt died). I am so thankful for the comfort God gives through people like that! ((hugs))