Love, the person you know who’s child died
“A ton of regret never makes an ounce of difference.”–Grenville Kleiser ‘Dictionary Of Proverbs’
I’ve had several conversations with friends, old and new, the past few days. I normally hate talking on the phone, but sometimes you just need to talk through your feelings. This blog helps me do that as well.
I read an article yesterday called, “A letter to my friend who has never lost a baby, from your friend who has.” While many parts of it were incredibly relatable, there were so many things I felt were missing. So I’ve decided to write my own version. But mine is to everyone, from the person you know who’s child died.
I can’t thank you enough for the love and support. I know you are thinking of me, praying for me, and I understand you want to help. There is sadly nothing you can do to mend me, but I know you wish there was, and that means a lot to me. I read the words you send to me, even if I don’t respond.
There is a large difference between pity, sympathy, empathy, and compassion. I found this graphic below and felt it describes each concept well:
Pity can sometimes be associated with a negative concept. Turns out, it’s not bad at all. So many people have acknowledged my suffering, and I appreciate it. It’s ok to pity me.
Sympathy is the most common emotion. Those I know, and even those I don’t, have strong sympathy for me. They truly care about my suffering, and how I’m doing. They long to help me in some way. I feel so much of this from those around me, even those I don’t know personally, and I thank you.
Now to empathy. This is what I need from those closest to me. I am constantly having to face my child’s death. Every single day of my life. When I see the pregnant woman in the store, as I cross paths with the newborn baby at checkout, watching kids play at a softball game, or when condolences are given to me by someone at the coffee shop.
I need those closest to me to feel my pain. But how? The best way to do this is simply be there when I reach out to you. Or reach out to me to talk about something random. I enjoy having a “normal” conversation with you. It may just take my mind away from my sorrow for a minute. If I don’t respond, or don’t engage, don’t hold it against me. Sometimes I just don’t want to talk. But it’s ok to try.
Please protect me by watching your words and phrases. Be sensitive to what you say. I am constantly surrounded by people who don’t know any better, and I have to hold myself together while they unknowingly say or do things that stab me in my broken heart. I need those closest to me to be my heroes. I need to feel safe with you. Be empathetic.
Compassion – There is no way to do this for me. Time will be the only thing to help relieve any ounce of my suffering. I wish there was some other way. Don’t feel like this is your responsibility, because it’s just not possible. Please just be empathetic.
To those around me who are pregnant. I am so happy for you, and I hope you know how fortunate you are in this moment. I always felt lucky to be pregnant with my baby, but I truly had NO idea how lucky those who give birth to a living baby are. What I would give to be this fortunate.
As happy as I am for you, it is very hard for me to be around you right now. Hearing you talk about your forgetfulness, how many snacks you need, and your future plans, kills me inside. You probably don’t even realize you made these comments because they’re so general, but I hang on every word. So please know, my distance isn’t because I’m not happy for you, it’s to protect me. The majority of your life is joyous right now, and the majority of mine is sorrow. It’s just the way it is.
To those who need to tell me something important that may be hard for me to hear, and you’re unsure how to do it, or how I will react: DO NOT TELL ME IN PERSON. Also – make sure you use your best judgement to time when you tell me. It’s better to risk that I’ll get upset you didn’t tell me, than to hurt me with your delivery or words. Trust me.
I know the person you’ve always known would want a face to face conversation, but I’m not that person anymore. I need time to process, and to react without you seeing. Text me or call me. It’s cruel to do it any other way. I need to be able to escape the conversation. I need control. I need empathy.
And the last thing I want you to know: I didn’t just “lose my baby”, my child died. A child that I had hopes and dreams for. A child that I wanted more than I ever realized. In this moment, nothing in my life matters to me and I am beyond broken. I am certain that a piece of me died with my baby.
I may say things and do things that in the future I will regret. I may cry randomly, or make you feel uncomfortable. I will have to take energy from you, because I have none to give. If you can’t handle this, then please just leave my life. I won’t miss you. The only person I miss right now is my baby. And I’m not sorry for it.
The person you know who’s child died