(I do not mean to imply that the loved ones are not grieving as well. I am simply using it as a term to help with the content of this blog post. For the purposes of this post, I mean “the Grieving” as in the one(s) who suffered the actual physical loss. I need distinction between them and the families.)
I was told things like “God just needed another angel up in heaven.”
I was told that I just need to “get over it and move on.”
I had one scripture after another quoted to me—as if I had not already been studying and reading scripture like a hungry mother wolf getting her nourishment.
I cannot even begin to tell you all the hurtful things said to me over the years simply because there are too many and because I honestly have tried—very hard—to forget them. Otherwise it would be too difficult to spend time with these same people day to day because some of these well-meaning well-wishers were/are close friends and family. I love them too much to hurt them in return. They did not mean to hurt me. They simply wanted to DO or SAY something to make things better and they thought that what they were doing or saying was helping.
Sadly, there were wrong.
So this one is for you, Beloved Friends and Family members.
*Whatever you do, do not make it about you. If you are hurt because the Griever did not tell you she was pregnant to begin with, that is understandable, but that was not your decision to make. Maybe if you let your loved one tell you the whole story—if she is able to share it, you will learn the whys and wherefores and then you will find that you are ashamed of yourself for being offended in the first place. Yes, you are grieving, too because you love your Griever so very much, but in this case, it is not about you; it is about her.
*Let her share as much as she is able in her own time and in her own way. I promise you that if you give her space and let her know that you are willing to listen—or not, she will open up to you. It might not be right away, but she will and she will more than appreciate your validation of her heart when you let her share when she is ready.
*There will be days when she will not get out of bed. Or if she does, she does not make it any further than the couch. She will not shower. She will not eat. She certainly will not get dressed. She simply cannot face the day. Do not make her feel bad because she is unable to face the world. Go to her and snuggle with her. Hold her hand. There isn’t any need to talk unless she wants to. Let her lead you.
*Go sit with her and hold her, hold her hand, cry with her, laugh with her, BE with her. Hugs are best.
*Words are unnecessary. You may feel with every fiber of your being the desperate need to share some words of wisdom. You know in your heart of hearts that the words you have to speak to her are exactly what she needs to hear. Guess what, Loved One? The words you so desperately want to say are more than likely NOT the words she needs, wants, or is even ready to hear. Bite your tongue. Write them down. Tell them to someone else. But do not tell her. There is a big chance that what you think will be words of comfort will end up being hurtful words that could put a wedge in your relationship when all you were trying to do was make it better. Your words more than likely will NOT make it better—they will NOT make her feel better. They will NOT make the pain go away.
*Telling her, “Call me if you need ANYTHING” or asking “What can I do for you?” are both inadequate in that she has NO idea what she needs. She knows she needs something, but she has no idea what she needs. So do not bother offering or asking, just DO.
Do her dishes. Clean her bathroom. Do her laundry. Cook her a meal. Send her a card just to let her know you are thinking about her. Buy her something pretty. Find out, if you do not already know, what she likes and get it for her—a book, knitting thread, a pair of earrings, her favorite drink, her favorite candy, and on and on it goes. Take her out to lunch. Take her to a movie you know she would like to see. If she has other children, take them for a couple of hours one afternoon.
It really is the little things that matter in the life of your Griever. It does not take much to help her see and feel your love. That is what you want more than anything, isn’t it?
Love her. Just simply love her. That will make more of a difference in her life than anything else you could ever do or say. You will be the one she knows she can depend on, lean on, when she has her bad days, as she most certainly will, even years later. It has been fifteen and a half years since we first lost our Beloved James Isaac, exactly fifteen since we lost Panya Ruth, and right at ten years since we lost Anna Rose. Yet I continue to have days when I wonder why life is worth living, and I desperately need my support system to gather around me and hold me up.
Remember when God told Moses to hold up his staff over the children of Israel as they fought the Amalekites? (Exodus 17:8-16, NLT) Whenever Moses’ hands fell, the Israelites started to lose. When he would raise his hands again, they would begin winning. When Moses could no longer hold up his arms on his own, Aaron and Hur held up his arms for him: “As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. 12 Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. 13 As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.” Even the strongest among us will eventually need help. You, Beloved, get to be that one to come to the rescue.
There is nothing you can do or say—there is nothing you could have done or said—that will (would) change the outcome of what happened with your Precious Griever. You could not have stopped it. You in your own power could not protect her no matter what you may think to the contrary. So do not try to fix it now with words or actions that will only make it worse on your Precious. Just be there. Love her. Give her your unwavering support and unconditional love.
And that will make all the difference in the world….
You wanted to help me --
Instead, you trapped me.
You wanted to offer words of comfort -
Instead, you backed me into a corner.
You wanted me to know that you care -
Instead, you made me afraid of you.
Fight or flight.
That’s what we do when we’re trapped,
But I could do neither.
I don’t want to hurt you in my pain,
So I continue to listen...
I continue to look away...
All the while hoping for a way of escape...
Mentally crying out, “Help! Please help me! Oh God, HELP ME!”
There is no miraculous rescue -
No one comes to physically free me from your entrapment -
As slowly my soul begins to cry
No tears in my eyes
No tears on my cheeks -
But the cries so intense -
The pain is now more severe for, you see,
You wounded me - reopened the unhealed wound -
when you caught me in your trap.
You only wanted to help me.
Instead you trapped me.
Instead of letting go, I’ve buried my pain
Even deeper than before -
And I wonder. . .will I ever be released from
- Polly Anna Watson
March 2, 2000