Several days after Max died, my dad was dragged to a BBQ. “It will be good for you”, said the dragger.. and of course it wasn’t. The only way it could have been good for him is if everyone at the BBQ had come and put their arms around him and said how very sorry they were that his only grandson had just died. But that’s not what people do. Instead, nobody said a word. They went on and on about their own lives and (living) grandchildren and ignored the elephant in the room. My dad felt very alone.

In the seven years since Max has died, I’ve gotten mostly used to this. I try not to bring him up - but it’s hard. It’s especially hard when an experience I had with Max or as a first time mother is relevant to the conversation . It’s even harder for me when my experience of losing him is, in my mind, relevant to the conversation. Most of the time, the person I’m talking to, continues on with their drama, trying their best to ignore that I’ve just said anything at all. Maybe there is a quick nod. Other times, the reaction is hostile. More than once, I’ve literally been told that the situation is “not that! I’m not talking about that!” Angry. Dismissive. Hurtful. I’ve noticed it’s the same people who always get hostile. And I guess I’m expected to shut the hell up and just start listening! So I do. And then I try to be extra empathetic. And then I berate myself for days for bringing him up.

It seems I keep walking back into these interactions. The same people want to confide how awful and overwhelmed they are with something in their lives and it relates, for me, to something I’ve experienced with Max and then I’m shut down and shut up. And then I wonder why I keep interacting with these people or WHY they are choosing me to confide in. If I’m being perfectly honest, I don't very much from these interactions and relationships.

What I am learning is that most relationships are pretty one way. I am expected to listen and empathize. What I get in return is someone who likes me for those reasons. What I don't get is someone that I can also put my trust in. It's ok. Thankfully, I do have those people that aren't scared of my pain. If my job is to nod and zip it, then I suppose that is what I will do.

1 comment

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that happened to you. Some people lack empathy and compassion. That's all I ask for. My son's 2nd anniversary was last weekend. The anticipation was far worse than the actual day. I kept replaying the timeline in my head. He was my first and 10 months old. I rarely speak his name and talk about him outside the loss community. When I do, I wonder if they feel the same way as your friend. Maxie looks a lot like you and has a beautiful smile. I'd like to think our boys are playing together up in Heaven. Wishing you peace.