So a dear friend wrote this:http://stillstandingmag.com/2013/07/sharing-your-story-even-when-the-world-wont-listen/
And on her facebook the question was posed of "well, how do I support you?" so I wrote this;
- No time limits, don't assume we should be done in a certain period of time
- Dont bring God into it. Just don't. Even if the person is known to be religious. For some God is a huge comfort, for others God is not, and at different points in healing even the most devout believer could be on either end of the spectrum. Don't talk about them being in "a better place." Just leave the spirituality about it alone, if the parent brings it up, listen WITHOUT JUDGEMENT or CORRECTION.
- Be present, use your poker face, simply tell the bereaved "Im here" if you are capable. If you're not capable of simply being there, be honest and don't waste our time. Speaking for myself I'd rather have an honest aquaintance and know I can't talk to about my son then the anxiety of you ignoring me when I reach out to you.
- Hold no expectations of us, speaking for myself I'm flaky because triggers will knock me down and continuing with plans can be physically impossible. Today I broke down sobbing while we ate lunch downtown. We rarely meet our own too high expectations, how dare you shove your expectations of us down our throat. You're the only person you can control, so work on that.
- Ask about our special person but don't press for stories/information/details. Respect that when and if we are ready to talk about anything about our special person, that you previously asking has allowed us the opening to talk (or not) about them. Knowing you're willing to listen to the good and the gruesome is a comfort. Like taking off a restrictive bra that has under-wire poking you and knowing no one around is going to care and they may even be as relieved as you are!
- Don't tell us what we "need," do offer to help fulfill the needs we articulate to you if possible. We lost a child, we did not become a child. We know what we need, but better than that we know what we DON'T need, and we don't need people telling us what we think.
- Don't tell us we'll be happy again(see previous blog on the subject). It's like nails on a chalk board when I hear "It's good to see you smile" or whatever, I know your intention is good but there is unintended implication there. So think it but don't say it. Do be happy to see or talk to us, because that feels good.
- Don't tell us were doing it wrong, because there isn't a wrong way. Do remind us if we're struggling of just that, there is no wrong way to continue on this path of grieving
- Don't whine about your kids doing normal kid things to the bereaved. I'd give my own heart to have that back.
- Practice unconditional love. Treasure your children and don't be afraid to express your love for your children in front of the bereaved parent. Speaking for myself seeing a mama love her littles fearlessly because of my special person fills my heart with love.
That's about where I ended on my friend's facebook, but I've since though of few more
- Do not tell a bereaved parent they can just have more children. It doesn't work that way. People are not replaceable.
- If you have supported your bereaved parent friend, or find yourself in a position to support a bereaved parent, do not bring up later how you supported them. It sounds like you're stroking your ego, and without knowing you've treated that parent like a pet project.
- Don't be offended if we do not immediately accept your offer for help. I know for myself, I figure I've done something so wrong to have deserved the ultimate punishment then I certainly don't deserve support. So keep offering. It's appreciated even if we never take you up on it.
I hope other loss mamas, warriors, will chime in on how to support the bereaved parent. <3