A Grieving Parents Wish list
1. I wish you would not be afraid to speak my child's name. My child lived and was important and I need to hear his/her name.
2. If I cry or get emotional if we talk about ... my child, I wish you knew that is
isn't because you have hurt me. The fact that my child has died has caused my tears. You have allowed me to cry and I thank you. Crying and sometimes unexpected emotions are healing.
3. I wish you wouldn't ignore or act like my child never existed by removing from your home his pictures, artwork or other reminders of this very special person who lived and made a contribution to all of our lives.
4. I will have emotional highs and lows, ups and downs. I wish you wouldn't think that if I have a good day my grief is all over, or that if I have a bad day I need psychiatric counseling. My erratic and unpredictable mood swings, from exhilaration to hopelessness, are as unpredictable by me, as they are by you. This is part of my new "normal" life.
5. I wish you knew that the death of a child is different from other losses and must be viewed separate. It is the ultimate tragedy in a persons life. I wish you wouldn't compare it to your loss of a parent, a friend, a spouse or a pet.
6. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you would not shy away from me. I need you and you need me.
7. I wish you knew of all the "crazy" grief reactions that I have are, in fact, are very normal. Depression, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and the questioning of values and beliefs are to be expected following the death of a child.
8. I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be over in six months. Please do not think because my "time period" is over that I am a "former bereaved parent" but I'll forever more be a "recovering bereaved parent". Please don't tell me how I should "cope" or that "it is time to move on" or "someday there will be closure". The word "closure" is a convenient, faddish media term that is absolute and complete non sense and meaningless.
9. I wish you understood the physical reactions to grief. I may gain weight or lose weight, sleep all the time or not at all, develop a host of illnesses, be accident prone or forgetful, all of which may be related to my grief. I may become isolated and withdrawn for periods of time. I may not even be able to talk on the phone or return phone calls.
10. Our child's birthday, the anniversary of their death and holidays are terrible times for us. I wish you would tell us that you are thinking of our child on these days. and if we get quiet and withdrawn, just know that we are thinking of our child and don't try to coerce us into being cheerful. If nothing else, I wish you would call once in a while and say "hi, I was thinking about you" Or just a friendly note or word, '"just wanted to let you know i was thinking of you today and hope things are OK"
11. It is normal and good that most of us re-examine our faith, values and beliefs after losing a child. We will question things we have been taught all our lives and hopefully, come to some new understanding with my God. I wish you would let me tangle with my religion without making me feel guilty.
12. I wish you would understand that grief changes people. I am not the same person I was before my child died and I will never be that person again. If you keep waiting and encouraging me to "get back to my old self" you will be disappointed, discouraged and frustrated. I am a new creature, not by choice, but by circumstances, with new thoughts, new dreams, aspirations, goals, priorities, values and beliefs. Please try to get to know the new me...maybe you will still like me.