A strange phenomenon

I know other bereaved parents can relate to this strange phenomenon, because I have spoken with many of them about this.  The role reversal that happens when you lose someone, where you find yourself taking care of others.  It has been brought to my attention many, many (many, many) times that there are people who are afraid to talk to me.  They "don't know what to say".  And, I don't know...it makes me really, really sad to be honest.  Like the burden of losing my child wasn't enough....now I am also scary and unapproachable.  And, I've been told that a big reason that people are afraid to talk to me is because of my blog....though I know many bereaved parents who don't have blogs that have had the same experience.  And so I find myself trying to perform a happy song and dance to make people more comfortable like, "see, I am normal!  I am ok!  You can talk to me!".  Sometimes it works and I've managed to take care of the people around me by acting normal  Sometimes it doesn't work and no matter how big my smile is, I am still completely unapproachable.

I remember another SIDS mother telling me that she didn't like telling strangers about her daughter because often, she would end up trying to comfort the person she'd just told.  "It's ok.  We've had other children.  We are happy again".  And, of course that is incredibly simplistic and not really how it works.  But, we just want to say what people want to hear sometimes, to take care of them....to make sure that they are comfortable with our loss, even if we are not.

I guess that while writing here has been cathartic for me and I hope has helped some other grievers know that they are not alone, it has pushed away other people who "don't know what to say".  For the first year of my grief, I mostly stayed away from people because I knew they were afraid to talk to me.  I had worked really hard at Max's shiva every day to try and make the guests feel comfortable and it was exhausting and sadly, grief gets worse after the funeral, not better.  I just didn't have it in me to keep taking care of others.  Plus, I wanted to spare them from having to spend time with me and figure out what to say.  Now that I am in a new phase, one where I can compartmentalize well enough, where I can make small talk and laugh about silly things - there are still people talking about how afraid they are to talk to me.  I wish it weren't this way, but it is.  I wish lots of things weren't the way there are, but they are.  So, I guess I am scary.  So be it.  I'm doing my best.  This is me.  I am the woman who lost her baby.  There is nothing I can do to change it.  If that scares you, my apologies, but frankly, it is starting to sound like an excuse.  Truly.

And, I'm sure after reading this post, you will just feel more uncomfortable around me - not knowing what to say.  My guess is that you would feel that way whether or not I was writing this blog.  My guess is that you are just a person who doesn't know what to say in hard times.  And perhaps one day, you will find that it isn't so difficult, because it really shouldn't have to be.

This post is getting lengthy but I wanted to mention that there were people on our trip to CT who did know what to say.  Friends of Teddy's and Beth's who knew exactly what to say.  Who were kind and warm and funny and fun to be around and didn't act awkward or put off by us at all...and, I guess I just wanted to say how much I appreciated it.  I had been dreading New Years Eve for a long time, because I haven't "celebrated" anything in a year and a half.  Even Mo's bris felt somewhat melancholy.  But our hosts, Sam and Pete, were wonderful and generous and Beth's friends were warm and inclusive and funny and kind. Ted and I both had a really great time.  It really made me want to get back to celebrating life - because sometimes it can be so amazing.  Anyway, I just wanted to thank them - and Kristine and Michelle who thoroughly entertained me all night - and my oldest friend Sigalle, who totally abandoned her NYE plans to hang with us - and my friend Leslie and her husband Mitch, who drove in a snow storm to come visit us, meet Mo and bring us warm hand me downs from their son, who was born the day before Max - and Uncle Ritchie and Ellen, who we always love to see and spend time with.  And all of Ted's hilarious, awesome friends who we had so much fun with on Saturday night.  It was a really good time.  And, it should go without saying that we wish we had spent more time with Teddy's parents and we felt so terribly that they couldn't get close enough to hug and kiss Mo.  My mother in law said it was torture.

By the way, we flew home on the same flight as Mr. New Year's Eve himself - Carson Daly (who Ted had just been commenting on the day before, wondering if he was dressed like Dick Clark on purpose).  We always a appreciate a good celebrity sighting.

1 comment

Jayden's Mommy said...

I honestly do not believe the cheap excuse "we are afraid of talking to you, we don't know what to say". Its a plain cheap excuse that I heard way too much. I will rather hear the truth that they are selfish and afraid of feeling uncomfortable themselves. Yes I know we are their worst nightmare but all ppl have to say its - I'm sorry for what happen and we think of your baby. That's it something like that gives you comfort and brakes the ice. Don't worry I told one of my friends that said that about her family members. I will not start crying and telling them every detail or anything about what happen. Maybe it sounds mean but I have taken as a cheap excuse. And I do Abby I find myself many times trying to comfort others. Jared says for one of those ppl that is "too afraid" "too uncomfortable". There are at least 10 that have been for us and I'm sure you feel the same way. Love you, and I'm glad the CT trip turn out wonderful. I love seeing Mo's pictures and smiles he is a healer even to us who are very far away. Much Love send your way, Kira