Can we still be kind while we are grieving?
By now, we can say with certainty – Grief is a lifetime challenge that surprises us when we least expect it and hits us hard when we seem least prepared. It always keeps us on our toes. It’s a hard road to travel on and some days, the path ahead seems littered with bumps and obstacles.
I think we can all agree that we have our hands full with grief in our daily lives. It is one hell of a task to live with permanent sadness knowing that we can’t get back the ones we lost. Our babies were only with us for a very short time but we carry them in our hearts forever.
I can’t help but wonder though – does this exempt us from certain behaviour? Do certain rules no longer apply to loss mamas?
A blank cheque for rudeness?
This has been something that has kept bugging me ever since I suffered my miscarriage. Once I came out of my worst grief and learned that there were many of us out there, I assumed I would find a very supportive and understanding community of fellow sufferers. And I have to say for the large part that is exactly what I found. Women and families who have lost a baby ‘get’ the pain, the suffering and the struggle that is life after loss.
For a long time, this community that no one wants to belong to yet exists to support and empower, has been my saving grace. It still is. Maybe that is why I was so shaken when I discovered that not all of us share the same value – that no matter your loss, we are all in this together. I believed that loss mamas tend to be extra kind to each other because we all know how cold and uncaring the outside world can be. A lot of loss mamas have been told to be quiet about their loss and that no one wants to hear about their baby and please, definitely not pictures !!! It is just too disturbing for the shallow minded to see a perfect baby who has died.
But not in our community. The doors are open for anyone who has lost a baby – no matter at what gestation or age.
At least that is what I thought.
Say nothing rather than anything hurtful
Last week, I experienced first hand how a fellow loss mama was bullied by another. BOTH of them have lost a baby. BOTH of them are grieving. BOTH are forever missing their precious baby. But that didn’t stop one of them to tell the other that she would never understand her grief because the other mama has living children while she had none.
That was hefty. I was shocked to see that someone’s anger would lead to lashing out at a fellow sufferer – the one person that WILL understand your pain when no one else cares.
It made me wonder – as we all grieve, does that mean we can be less kind and crueler towards others?
The answer is NO.
I am the first to admit and say that grief can make you bitter and resentful. I have been there! I was on a slippery slope towards a permanent state of misery where I disliked everyone who either had a baby or was expecting one. It is easy to dislike, resent or, in the worst case, hate someone who has got something we don’t have. A fancy car, a big house or – a living child.
Being jealous is part of being human. To a point it is normal and most of us can even admit it when we exclaim ‘Oh, I am so jealous!’ And it is even fine to feel jealous and bitter when you are grieving. Living with grief is hard. It tests us beyond our limits sometimes. So of course we can’t be positive and hopeful all the time – that ain’t happening. Yet, we must not forget that we achieve more with kindness and compassion than with bullying and resentful slurs.
Lashing out at others is also part of being human. It is not a great side of us all. But we all do it because it is easier to give someone else a talking to than sitting back in silence and realising that we have become so resentful and bitter. That is hard pill to swallow and not an easy thing to admit. I dare to say that most of us loss mamas who have become bitter and have stayed that way, never planned to be that way. It just happened – slowly but surely over the years of having to face reality without part of our heart and soul in it.
I am not saying that to excuse this kind of behaviour. It is never ok to tell another loss mama that your loss is worse than hers and that you have it so much tougher. Everyone fights a battle we know nothing about. That is why kindness must be our first response – not hatred, resentment or negativity. Is it hard to be kind when you are in a deep sadness?
Yes. It is. Impossible even at times.
But that is ok. I am not saying we have to be kind and angel like all the time. But I do urge all of you to pick your times. If you can’t be supportive of others on any given day then that is just fine. On those days, you have to make it about yourself. Being part of a community doesn’t mean you have to put others and their struggles before yours all the time. Not at all. YOU need to heal, too.
If you feel like you want to have a bit of a crack at another loss mama, take a deep breath first. Think. Does it help for others to feel worse? Would you feel better afterwards? Not really, hey? In such moments, I keep it with the famous saying ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say…say nothing’.
We are not here to make each other feel worse. We are here to try and help each other get through the dark hours a little better. This journey called grief is a constant up and down for all of us. The downs are long and the ups often short. While that is not great, it is a fact and it just means that we must try each day to make a difference, even just a tiny one. On some days, that means to reach out and listen to someone else’s story. On other days, it will mean to stay quiet and turn away so our words won’t hurt others.
It’s as simple and hard as that. Being a loss mama is NEVER easy, regardless of if you have living children, supportive family or not. Whatever your situation, it does not mean we can’t be kind while we grieve. We still can – and should be. The outside world is unkind and uncaring enough. Let’s not let it become part of our community.