Wednesday, August 09, 2006

How to Respond to Dumb-idity

What do you get when you cross dumb and stupidity? I like to call it dumb-idity. Dumb-idity is what you will hear when good-intentioned people try to pass along advice after someone has lost a baby. There might not be a book written about the hurtful and oftentimes dumb-idity that comes out of people's mouths, but we'll try to cover some of the most common here. I'll also list a bunch of possible responses that other parents have used when confronted with dumb-idity and other questions.

When answering, or choosing not to answer others' questions, I encourage you to follow some simple steps:
1. Don't attack the person. Extend grace.
2. Try not to defend yourself.
3. Know that it is okay to say, "I don't want to talk about this right now/with you."
4. Know that most people mean well, but words sometimes come out wrong. How many times have we been in a situation where we didn't know what to say or said the wrong thing?

How many children do you have?

  • I have two children. One is 18 years old and the other is in heaven.
  • I have three children, two on earth one in heaven.
  • Four. Two that walk and two that soar.
  • I have 3 children, Two are with me, ages 13 and 7, and my other is in heaven.
  • I have none that run and two that fly.
  • I have Three Beautiful Daughters, One still here with me and Two waiting on the other side.
  • I have no living children.

I know how you feel.

  • I am sure you may think you do, but honestly there is no way to imagine this pain.
  • No you don't, but let me help you understand.
  • Look them in the eye and say "God I hope you don't."
  • No you can't possibly, and by the grace of God, I hope you never do.
  • Oh, you've lost a child, too?
  • I'm sorry, have you had a child to die? The loss of a child can't be compared to the loss of any other family member.
  • Do you really? I am so very sorry! What happened to your child?
  • Perhaps, but unless you've lost a child, I don't think you do. Grief after the loss of a child is very different from grief over the loss of your parents/spouse/pets.
  • Choose to make no comment.

You need to get over this.

  • I don't ever see myself getting over this. "This" is my son/daughter, a part of me.
  • Having your child die is something no one should ever have to "get over."
  • Funny, the entire country is allowed to mourn the death of Elvis 23 years after his death, yet you ask me to get over the death of my child. I will never get over his/her death, but I will go on. Walking through the door of grief and not over or around it.
  • How do you propose I do that?
  • He/she was my son/daughter, he/she was real, this is something I'll never get over.
  • I will never get over it. Would you if you lost your children?
  • There is no timeline to getting over a loss of a child. It will be with me forever.
  • This is not a cold, this is the death of our only children.
  • I'm sorry, I will never get over the loss of my child, I have learned to live with it.

It's time to let go and move on.

  • This is my first time dealing with the death of one of my children. Grief doesn't come with a handbook on "the right way" to grieve. I do what I have to do to get through each day and until you have spent one day or even one minute in my situation, please don't tell me what I should do or how I should be acting by now. My life has changed forever, it will never be the same again, I am doing the best I can to keep moving forward and yes there are times when I fall backwards and have to start all over again. So please just be patient with me and try to understand this is something I have to work through - my way.
  • I shall hold my son/daughter in my heart forever. So there is no letting go.
  • I have been moving on ... but let me tell you its hard to let go. They were my children.
  • Letting go? No, you can't let go of a person you loved. You carry that love with you always.
  • Moving on? Every day we "move on", but that doesn't mean we forget!
  • I have no choice but to "let go," but moving on is a slow process.
  • I choose go on and embrace the wonderful memories, keeping her alive.

You need to find a hobby.

  • I have many wonderful hobbies. But not a day passes where I do not miss my son/daughter.
  • No matter how many hobbies I have, I'll never forget my son/daughter.
  • You don't replace a child with a hobby. I do have ways to keep me busy, but my child is always on my mind.
  • I have many.

Shouldn't you be over your crying now?

  • I don't know, this is the first time I have had to deal with something like this. But I don't cry as much as I used to.
  • Maybe I should, but this is the best thing I can do right now.
  • The crying will ease over time ... but there is no time limit on grief.
  • Maybe, but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my girls, and my grandson.
  • I choose not to explain my reason for tears over my child to you at this point.

At least you have other children!

  • While that is true it doesn't stop the pain and sorrow of losing my son/daughter.
  • And my son/daughter is one of my children, I miss him/her every day.
  • I am thankful for all of my children but my heart aches for the one no longer with me as well.
  • Yes, I do, but there is an empty space at our table every night where my son/daughter should be and an empty spot in my heart.
  • Yes, but another child doesn't take the place of the one you lost. They each have their special places in your heart.

He/She is in a better place.

  • That knowledge brings me little comfort. I long for the life we would have had together here.
  • Yes he/she is and it does help knowing that he/she is, but I want him/her here with me.
  • Yes, the Christian in me knows that, but the mother in me wants to hold her son/daughter here.
  • There is a better place, but the best place is in my arms.
  • My child is in Heaven, but I'm a Mother and I feel that no place is better than here with me.
  • Yes, I believe in Heaven, but it doesn't ease the emptiness of the here and now.
  • Yes they are, I have no doubts. But I would rather they be here with me.

He/She only lived two years, my son/daughter lived 22. I lost more.

  • You may measure the amount of love you have your child with time, BUT I DON'T.
  • With an older child you have so many more memories and sometimes the memories are the only thing that keep me going. The pain is the same.
  • We were all cheated when we lost our children.
  • We're both experiencing the worse pain we've ever faced.
  • I am sorry, for your loss, but please don't diminish mine, its just as painful.
  • No matter what the age, the grief is just as intense. You cannot measure one person's grief against another's -- everyone grieves differently.
  • No matter the time you had with your child, you never fully got to know them, and that is the sharpest cut of all.

If it were my child I would no longer be on this earth.

  • There was a time when I didn't think I would survive this either, I used to feel the same way as you, but I don't have any choice.
  • I thought the very thing at one time. But we have no choice but to remain here, that is one reason it is so difficult!!
  • I'm sorry you feel that way and at times I felt that way, but somehow we go on.
  • You survive the only way you can ... by the grace of God and the support of your family.
  • Your other living children help you to get through each passing day!
  • That thought crossed my mind many times. Thankfully, I was expecting my second child and I knew that he deserved a loving mother also.

But he/she is finally really happy!

  • Oh, my daughter/son was very happy with her/his family, really happy.
  • Yes, but my child would be happy here with me, too.
  • He was very comfortable with us here on earth and I only hope he is just as happy where he is today!
  • Choose not to comment.

He/She was an Angel on Earth - not meant to be here.

  • God doesn't make mistakes. He/She was meant to be and I am so thankful he/she was no matter how long I had him/her.
  • Yes he/she was an angel. But I think by getting pregnant he/she was meant to be here.
  • My child was meant to be! He/She was a gift to me from God.
  • God could never punish me like that. It was by his hands that I survived here on earth than the human hands that took my child from me.
  • He/She was certainly meant to be here, even if his/her visit was but a short one.
  • Please show me that passage in the Bible.

He/She wouldn't want you to cry.

  • Crying is part of grieving and healing and should/must be done.
  • Probably not, but he/she understands.
  • Maybe not, but crying is better then being angry with everyone around me.
    You'll have to excuse me. I'm a little selfish and I want him/her here.
  • Perhaps, but crying does make me feel better.
  • My child was only 18 months... I'm sure he/she wouldn't understand the tears I shed for him/her, but somehow I doubt that he/she wouldn't want me to mourn his/her death.
  • I'm sure they wouldn't.

Time will heal.

  • Time won't heal this hurt, only God can do that.
  • I have heard that too and I am waiting, I'll let you know.
  • Time only allows you the grace to find a place to go on living.
  • No, time doesn't heal, it just makes it easier to cope.
  • Time is not what heals, though it does dull the sharpness and frequency, thankfully. But when you are newly bereaved you don't need to keep hearing that over and over because it negates the immediate feelings that you are having.
  • Time does ease the Intense pain, but the deep scars are forever.
  • Time also punishes me.

This is killing you.

  • No it is not killing me, it is hurting me.
  • No, it's making me a stronger person.
  • No, I'm very much alive. It isn't that simple.
  • Maybe slowly, but somehow I will manage.
  • Yes, in a way it is a death inside to have one's child die.
  • There was a time I wish it would, truly. But no I am alive, at times the walking dead, but alive.
  • As time passes you shall notice that a part of me died with my child, you will mourn the "Old me" you once knew, accept the "New me," or choose not to.

How did you live through this?

  • What choice do we have? We had to live through this or give up. I chose to live.

I don't know how you carry on, I know if it was me that I couldn't. At least your child lived one-fourth of his/her life.

What age would you chose for your child to die?
  • True, but that thought brings little comfort.
  • Choose not to comment.
  • It was God's will. (God does not close a door without opening a window)

    • No, God doesn't try to cause us pain, especially pain like this.
    • My God would never purposely hurt me like this.
    • Now please explain to me why God would tell you about his plans for me and not tell me?
      It is? Why?
    • It may have been His, but not mine.
    • Yes it is God's will. Doesn't mean I have to be happy about it, or that I don't hurt because of it. God's will is not our will, but I do trust that He knows what He is doing!
    • Everything is God's will, but we don't always like it. I realize as a child of God that I should accept His will for my life without question, but I am a frail, fragile being, whom He created, and I want to scream "Why" till the rafters shake.
    • A lot of things are God's will, but Jesus himself wept in the garden.
    • Not the God I believe in.

    You're a strong person, God knew you'd be able to carry this burden.

    • Strong people still bleed and believe it or not their hearts still break.
    • I don't know about strong, just doing what I have to do to live each day until I can see my child again.
    • Well it is no burden I wish to carry, thank you.
    • I am not strong, I am just surviving and trying to do what I am need to do. You wouldn't say I was strong if you see me when I really fall apart and can't stop crying.
    • How do you know that is what he thought?
    • Yes, God did. I didn't. Not for a very long time. It's been years since my son died, but his death was the catalyst for many good things. But right after my son's death I was not ready to accept that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose." I needed to rant and rail. Thankfully, He was patient with me.
    • I would take innocence over that particular brand of strength any day. Wouldn't you?
    • The death of a child is not a burden, it is DEVASTATION, and God has seen me through, not choosing me as a burden carrier.
    • Strong is an understatement.
    • Truly I am so very weak, torn and bruised, hiding behind a mask of some sort, one day I hope I may remove it in your presence.

    I won't ask/can't talk about your son/daughter. It makes me depressed.

    • I wish you would, it makes me happy when people take the time to remember my son/daughter.
    • I'm sorry if my life depresses you.
    • I'm sorry you are depressed but telling others about my child eases my depression and lets me share him/her with you.
    • It's too bad that you feel that way. I, on the other hand, listen to each milestone little (insert child's name here) achieves despite the pain it causes me, because I care about you.
    • Do you enjoy talking about your children? I want to talk about mine also, I'm sorry it makes you uncomfortable but even though their not here with me they are still my children.
    • Then please, by all means, don't contact me for a while.
    • If you feel bad, imagine how I'm feeling.

    I don't want to hear about your son/daughter or about his/her grave. I want to hear about you. How are you?

    • I am sad and missing my child. Please do not act like he never existed. Cause he/she did to me.
    • My child was such a big part of me, that I can't tell you about me without mentioning him/per as well.
    • I am miserable, because I miss my child and nothing can make this awful pain go away.
    • That is a part of me. If you don't want to hear about that, then you don't really care about what I'm feeling.
    • People don't want to hear how we really are.
    • You won't like the answer.

    When will you try again? Have you considered adoption?

    • That is something my husband and I will decide together.
    • I haven't thought that far ahead yet.
    • I want another baby, but need to grieve the loss of this one first.
    • All things are in God's timing.
    • That's a personal question.
    • I don't want to discuss that right now.

    I listed the best responses to dumb-idity here. For the complete list of questions and answers on the Bereaved Parents website, click here. If you have a question to add to the list, shoot me an e-mail and I'll poll the long list of bereaved parents in my circle.

    No comments: