Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Someone Else's Loss

      My friend over at Tales of a Kitchen Witch seems to be starting up some conrtoversy lately.  I'm not going to try to paraphrase everything that was said, or even what she said.  I will say it involves breast cancer "games" and the pain of infertility or loss of pregnancy.  And I will say I agree with her.  I strongly suggest that you check out this post and this post if you'd like to better understand my comments below.  Or if you want to join in the discussion!

      Her post today was about the pain of miscarriage and the sometimes awkward converstions that can take place between women who've experienced loss and those who haven't.  I've been thinking about similar topics a lot the last year or so, and wanted to do a post about it, but as you see from my last post, I don't even REALLY have the time to be writing this one.

I did want to put my thoughts on the matter out there, though. So, in response to this post, which I find beautiful, touching, and honest, I want to say:

      A few times in the last couple years I've found myself facing friends who are dealing with incredible losses, losses that I can't even begin to comprehend, and I want nothing more than to make them feel better.  To have the words or the support that will make their pain go away, even just a little or for a while.  But sometimes, most of the time, those words just aren't there.

      But what I've learned from these experiences, what I think you've captured so well in this post, is that sometimes just accepting that the other person in grieving, accepting that you can't fix it, and not letting that make you uncomfortable or unavailable is enough.

      I think we all need a whole lot more practice in taking people as they come.  I rarely, if ever, joke about not wanting my kids because I have obsessive fears of losing them (and I mean serious, diagnosed, OCD obssession; I'm terrified of that one in a million car accident or cancer that could take away my babies).  So I rarely make "take my kids" jokes.  But on the off chance that I did, I'd like to think that a friend of mine pointing out that I'm lucky to have them would do just that: Remind me of how lucky I am.  And I would be ashamed of myself if I reacted poorly.

      A lot of my friends suffered miscarriages around the time of my pregnancy, and for a long time I tiptoed around those women (and their families).  I avoided talking about my pregnancy/baby.  Two of my closest friends in the whole world lost their mother's much too early.  And for a long time I tried hard never to mention my own mother around either of them.

      I've also learned that that is not a sustainable state.  We all need to just accept each other's situations.  I will try to excersize sensitivity around friends who have lost children (or parents, etc), but I will not pretend I don't have children (etc.).  It's fake, awkward, and it puts unneccassary and arbitrary strain on relationships.  And if my friend expresses grief for their loss, I will take that as an opportunity to support them, not as a reason for me to think of myself and how uncomfortable their pain makes me.


Emmy said...

Thank you for this- very well said

MiMi said...

Oh girl...I had a good friend who lost a baby when I was pregnant with mine. I went to the funeral. I felt guilty about saying anything.
And also I have made the comment on FB about being sad to watch my kids hit milestones that scream, "I'M GROWING UP! NOT A BABY ANYMORE!" and then a friend gently said: You are so blessed to see them grow and be healthy.
And then it hit me: What I lament, others would die for. :(

Partly Sunny said...

I completely understand the idea of being grateful for what you have ---- children growing up, for instance -- but I don't think that means you can't have legitimately sad and mixed emotions about life. And it's all relative. If you go around saying, "I shouldn't feel badly about such and such because so and so has it so much worse," then you aren't ever acknowledging your own hardships. And the thing is, there's always someone who'll be able to one up you on the sucky scale.

Incidentally, I do this all the time (say I shouldn't feel bad because. . .). So I'm basically talking out of my ass.


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