It’s really hard to have to tell people that I lost a son. I never know how they will react, and I don’t really know how I will react to their reaction. I had to say it twice today. It’s not easy to say, much less to have to say it to a person.
I saw an old acquaintance that I hadn’t seen in several years today. We chatted for a few minutes, caught up on happenings in each other’s life, then came that moment when I had to decide whether or not I felt safe in telling this person about our tragic loss. I did, so I did. He was very kind and compassionate and didn’t say much about it. That’s the best reaction, in my opinion. I’m reminded of our grief counselor telling us the “3 H’s for Grievers” – “Say hello, give a hug and hush it up”! That’s some deep wisdom, there! Really! Show your love and compassion and don’t try to offer advice. There is no helpful advice on the journey of grieving. Now, I’m not talking about educating yourself to normal human reactions to sudden loss and the grieving process. I’m working through my fourth book on what to expect when grieving. Educating yourself is wise. I’m talking about telling someone things like “get a hobby”, “I understand, I lost my great-grandpa last year”, “just turn it over to Jesus”. Silly, non-comforting things like that. They don’t help. In fact, they usually make it harder, because not only am I dealing with the moment by moment reality of my grief caused by my great loss, but now I’m dealing with someone’s insensitive comment about my grief. It’s “salt in the wound”. To be more descriptive, I would say it is like someone pressing insistently on my new incision, like they’re trying to break it open, and then they are going to pour salt in my wound. It is extremely painful. It takes me days, and sometimes longer, to get over an insensitive remark. It’s that tender of a wound.
I had to tell the clerk at the DMV today about my son, too. You would’ve thought I’d said “it’s raining outside”. In fact, I think I might’ve gotten more of a response if I’d said that. In her defense, I understand that people don’t know what to say. But, this was more along the lines of “I really don’t care about you or your family”. Oh, well. It might be easier to deal with that than someone I know blurting out some ridiculous piece of advice to try to get me back to my happy old self. It saddens me that sometimes people just want me to be who they were comfortable with before my son died. They don’t feel comfortable with this grieving me. Again…..oh, well.
I am starting to have occasional glimpses of life without this crushing sorrow. I feel like I’m breathing again. But, do I think I’ll be my “normal old self” again someday? Probably not. I think I’ll be my “normal new self” someday. And, maybe I’ll still have some of my normal old friends. Ha! We’ll see who hangs around through the muck and mire.
“But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord, at an acceptable time;
O God, in the greatness of Your lovingkindness,
Answer me with Your saving truth.
Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink;
May I be delivered from my foes and from the deep waters.”
One comment on “Telling People”
This is so helpful. I feel like I’ve fumbled my words so often when trying to speak to grieving people because I don’t want to sound trite, but I don’t always know what to say. And maybe because I’ve been on the receiving end of some hard responses from grieving people when I was really trying to love on them. Now I know: The 3 Hs.
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