Hi, Friend. You came back… thank you. Let’s dig in a little deeper, shall we? There‘s a plethora of opinions and resources on how to handle a child-lost parent, how to love someone who suffers, how to support those who are broken… Do’s and don’ts, advice, how-to’s, tips and tricks, personal stories, etc. etc. Some tools are great, others are so personal or so disconnected they kind of miss the mark. So here’s my own personal list of insights, I have no idea how universal my experiences and opinions are – they’re true for me… for right now anyway 😉
- You can always speak Graham’s name and include him in our family whenever it feels right – it always feels right to us.
- You are always welcome to ask questions about my son, and enter into his story in big or small ways. I love him! I love sharing him! His memory is full of shadows but I promise they don’t diminish the joy.
- I’m always thinking of Graham. I’m always aware he’s not here. You don’t have to worry about reminding me or saddening me – I’m already there – whether you can see it or not. More times than not, I welcome a moment to share that burden with someone else.
- Tears don’t bother me. Not your tears, not mine. I cry a lot. I need to cry a lot. If you find you’re censoring yourself so as not to make me cry, please don’t. I know it’s awkward and painful, but it’s real, and I much prefer that to a superficial alternative.
- I love children – I love blond boy babies and kids with long legs and round heads, I especially love 11 month olds and 2 1/2 year olds. I love remembering my son, and the vibrancy of flesh and blood help to freshen my memories. There’s ache mixed in with the enjoyment of other children, but it’s worth it. Your children are worth it and your happiness doesn’t cause my pain.
- I don’t have a my-baby-died trump card on suffering and sadness. Brokenness is everywhere -100 different versions of brokenness -I see it all with weary eyes. I can do brokenness. There’s no need to compare your hurt with mine. I don’t need more of God’s grace than you do, I have all I need. We both do.
- Don’t let me fool you, I often come off as stronger, healthier, braver than I really am. I can say things that should rip my heart out but my voice doesn’t even waiver and my eyes remain painfully dry. It’s not that it doesn’t hurt, only that a choreographed version of myself has developed over time. This stoic warrior persona tends to be my ‘first responder’ allowing me to function in day to day chores and interactions.
- I work hard to maintain sincerity, honesty and vulnerability but if you find my tone too mechanical or empty, I invite you to chip away at me – it doesn’t take much to find tender pieces of my heart. However, if you’re going to take me up on the invitation – please be gentle – maybe use a cup of coffee and a quiet moment.
- Lastly, a great practical means of meeting me where I am is with the simple phrase, “How’s your grief today?” With these simple, intentional words you help teach me you’re safe and committed, and that you see me just as I am. When in doubt, hugs work too. Even silence.