I got a great question from a parent the other day that totally reflects what so many of us have asked ourselves and each other so I’m sharing it and my response with you all today.
Did you ever feel like you were going through your journey completely alone, despite having an amazing support system rich with family and friends who are steadfast and ready when you needed them? Yes, they provide a willing and attentive ear, hugs, encouraging words.. ” You got this….i can’t imagine….I don’t know what I would do….how do you function?…”, the list goes on. I want to get inside of people’s heads and draw a picture of the pain, the grief…but at the same time, I don’t want anyone to feel the depths of loss that I feel after losing my daughter.
Are you nodding your head in agreement with this? I know I sure was when I first read it! I am still so very, VERY appreciative of the people who came alongside me and provided all those things. And the more I talk with other parents about their support system, or lack thereof, the more I recognize just knowing you have a person, or people in your corner makes a difference, gives you the confidence to move forward AND….
Unfortunately, the journey is still one you fly solo. Unless you’ve lost a child no matter how sympathetic or empathetic or helpful someone attempts to be they Just. Don’t. Get. It. And never will. Even someone close to me, who is always good about acknowledging she has no idea, still says and assumes things about me, my experience, and the global experience and thought processes of bereaved parents in general that simply don’t resonate and aren’t helpful.
It’s the old adage….until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. In the case of losing a child I believe it’s doubly true because it’s a loss that is so heart wrenchingly painful on all levels, often encompassing the whole being of who you are, what you believe, etc. and that’s hard to grasp unless you’ve walked through it. There are no words to adequately convey how your heart feels.
Even if you could get in people’s heads and draw a picture of the pain and grief you feel, it wouldn’t alleviate the pain. Them understanding it wouldn’t take it away. Grief is a journey everyone walks alone. With other bereaved parents who get it, you can share “war stories” and encourage one another. You can share tips, tools, and things that have worked for you. And that is an immense relief and boost in your journey. But unfortunately, no one can walk this path for you. You have to do your own work and carry your own load until you figure out how to unload it. Yes, people can come around you and help you lift, especially if you know how to ask and what to ask for. Yes, resources abound that can aid you in your soul searching and navigating the road. But at the end of the day it takes you putting one foot in front of the other and looking ahead to where you want to go even when it sucks.
Peace and aloha,