You can talk to me about him and I won’t break down, and even if I do, it’s ok because I’d still rather you comment about him than not. I think that that’s something that people can’t deal with.
You’re still going to be a mother
Someone said to me “You’re still going to be a mother even after she dies and even if you didn’t have two other children.” I think that was really important for me, to say, “You’re still a mother.” In that sense my identity as a mother remained and it was vitally important that I recognized that.
At the wake
People said a lot of stupid things when our child passed away. Everyone was just trying to make us feel comfortable, make us feel better. But I think they were more uncomfortable than anything. People said “oh, it’s all for the best” or “he’s in a better place.” Well you know, he’s not in a better place! A better place would be at home, with me on my couch, ok? But during the wake and the funeral, we had people saying stuff like that. We were really hurting and we didn’t want to hear stuff like that and I got angry. I didn’t say anything to these people but I was thinking to myself, “how could they say something like that?” But after a while I realized that they are just trying to help.
The only thing people seem to know to say is “sorry for your loss” and you go down the line “sorry for your loss”, “sorry for your loss.” You know they don’t even realize what they’re saying, it’s like they’re programmed to say that when they go to a funeral or a wake. And ah, what are the other people saying… “You have an angel now,” or “At least he’s not suffering anymore.”
You can always have another
You gotta love the people that say “oh well, you can always have another.” Or things like, “God has a plan,” well what about my plan? That’s all fine, well, and good. Why did it have to be us?
People say the wrong things, friends and family who probably had meaningful intentions but that really should have just not said anything at all. I don’t think it’s on purpose, I think they just don’t know better. It’s so odd. You kind of wonder sometimes “why would you say that?” Sometimes people say “at least you’re young, you guys can have more kids” or “maybe it was for the better.” What’s a good reason? Obviously they can’t give you one, so why would you say it? There’s never a good reason for someone to lose a child.
Someone told me on Mother’s day that I wasn’t a mother. That was something I had to correct and that person doesn’t say that anymore.
Doesn’t that comfort you
People often say to me “You know, your daughter is out of pain, doesn’t that comfort you? She is not suffering anymore, and she is obviously in heaven and that’s a good thing” … that kind of thing. I know she is out of her suffering but I also know she would have liked to grow up. She would like to be here. She would have liked to go to college. She would like to have been a writer and a singer. She would have liked to fulfill these dreams. Whenever I go anywhere and I see something then I’ll say, “Oh Lexi would have liked this, Lexi would have liked that.” You can walk into a store and see one little stuffed animal and you want to buy it for them but they’re not here. Maybe you buy it anyway for yourself or maybe you just cry or walk away. So, everywhere in life there are reminders.
She’s happy now
“She’s happy now.” I know that but I am miserable. Stop trying to make me feel better. I want to be miserable.
People who say “You should have moved on by now.” I went to work one day maybe three years after my daughter died and I had a really bad day. I told my boss that I had a hard day, and that I had to go home because I was having a really hard day, and she said “What ever happened? What’s wrong?” I said it had to do with my daughter and she said “Didn’t she die three years ago?” People don’t get it and they say these things.
You never know
I resented it when a friend of mine said to me when my daughter was about 12, “Oh, I’m so glad you’re taking this trip because you never know if she’ll be here next year.”
Have you laughed since she died?
We did go to a grief counselor in the community back here and we met with them one time to see if it was something that we wanted to do. It wasn’t helpful to either of us. It wasn’t helpful to me only because it seemed like the grief counselor was trying to tell me how to feel instead of listening to how I felt. I wasn’t feeling the way that he said to me “Have you laughed since Libby died?” And I said “Yeah.” He said “You feel guilty when you laugh.” and I said “No.” It was like he was wrong in how I was feeling but telling me, it was kind of confusing to me like maybe I should be feeling that way and I wasn’t. We didn’t go again.
People don’t know what to say
People don’t know how to come along side you, and when you’re in the midst of deep grief, you can’t deal with those relationships. Relationships go through interesting times. We all grieve terribly differently so the friction and the tension during the grieving process can be enormous. I think all relationships change after such a loss.
The funeral home was the one negative. They were trying to sell us this really flimsy, small casket that some people use for pets. I was so insulted. Yes, he only lived for twenty five days but they kept trying to help us cut costs. We didn’t want to cut costs. We wanted to respect his life however long or short it had been. That was really odd and annoying. They were surprised that we wanted this large funeral. And we did.
Talk about him
The part of bereavement that is the most difficult for me is getting people to talk about him. It’s hard for a lot of people. They either don’t talk about him or just find it uncomfortable.
Talk Laura to Me
There’s actually a beautiful poem I could give you. It’s called “Talk Daniel to me”. I changed the words to “Talk Laura to me”.
Talk Laura to me, Say her name out loud, Remove yourself from personal fears
To sound sweet music in my ears, Talk Laura to me, Tell of her escapades
Narrate to me how she touched your life
Your mention of her
Is a balm to my strife
Talk Laura to me
Jump in when I talk about her
Do not ignore my still cherished daughter
Nor change the subject once I have begun
Talk Laura to me
Remember to me she lived
It may bring me tears
But I shed them before
There’s no richer gift
Than Laura wore
Talk Laura to me
Help keep her memory alive
If you would seek
To help me in my grief
Talk about Laura
It brings sweet relief
Talk Laura to me
***This was adapted from the poem by Penny Young, a parent who lost her son. For me, people don’t bring Laura up very often. It’s very, very rare to hear her name and to hear her mentioned. We have this thing called “the die-hard Laura fans.”
I think it’s important to be understanding of people if they start letting you down by not asking about your daughter. Be compassionate and understand that they’re either uncomfortable or don’t know how to talk about it.
When people ignore your child
You need to be around people who will allow you to grieve for months and even years. Having somebody to resonate with in a celebratory way and being able to talk about the person you’ve lost is really important. Surround yourself with some people who want to talk about the person you’ve lost. The hardest thing is when people ignore the person you’ve lost. We have plenty of people, even family members, who’ve chosen to do that and it really hurts.
Nobody knows how to talk to you afterwards. Nobody knows what to say and whether to bring up your child, or not. My husband and I are both open people and we’ve had a lot of people say to us “It really helps that you bring him up because we don’t want to. We don’t know if you want to talk about it or don’t want to talk about it…” I think open communication helps.