Friday, May 18, 2018

After the Rain

I remember vividly the outpouring of support when Trey was born and when he passed.  The messages, comments, post views, meals, phone calls, texts, and visits were so vast it was almost overwhelming.  As soon as 2 weeks after he passed, the support waned gradually.

I don't think this is unique to child loss.  I haven't experienced too many deaths of people who I am close with thank goodness but I am also guilty of pouring on the support when such an event happens to someone else then backing off.  If we are honest with ourselves, we all are.

But we can't beat ourselves or others up about it.  The intense emotions we feel when someone else experiences loss are parallel to the intense emotions felt by those affected by the loss.  Over time, those emotions slowly lose that intensity for both the griever and the supporter.  The difference is, for the griever this happens much slower.  The grief is worn and lived everyday in every way.  The problem is, the support is still needed.

This is a mixed blessing because we are left with our own grief which can lead to personal healing, however, we are left alone to without anyone to to listen and be a shoulder to cry on.

If you're anything like me, I didn't want to drag people into my pity party but I also couldn't deal with handle the powerful thoughts and emotions drowning me.  I had to set aside my pride and reach out.  Throughout my maternity leave, I would call my husband multiple times a day distraught and begging him to come home because I couldn't bare to be alone.

Although any comfort is better than no comfort at all, I found the most solace in those who have also lost a child.  There were so many emotions and thoughts I could share with them with they related to and had insight about.  Their advice sustained me if just in the moment.  The thing is, luckily there weren't too many I knew who had lost a child or at least didn't talk about it.  Friends came out of the woodwork, surprisingly, sharing their stories and giving me assurance that I was not going crazy.

The hardest part to me was the avoidance.  People would avoid me when I brought him up or change the subject.  Conversations were cut short and/or people would give misguided advice about me getting over it.  Those very same people who, in the beginning, said they were there for me and to reach our anytime were nowhere to be found.  The closest emotion I could assign to this is abandonment.

In reality, child-loss represents a minuscule percentage of loss that many people have not experienced.  They can only sympathize with our pain and give the normal responses given for loss.  It's God's will.  Everything happens for a reason.  Time heals all wounds.  You're in my prayers.  The list goes on and on.  Expanding on that point, thoughts and prayers seem like empty promises for someone who doesn't know what else to say.  Actions truly speak louder than words.  As sad as it is to say it, thank goodness they don't know what to say.  Thank goodness they haven't experienced this kind of pain.

Yet, there was and is always my tribe that would listen whenever I talked about Trey.  There was and is no judgement only listening ears and hugs.  They are my tribe.  Trey is a part of their lives too.  He is real and not just something that happened.

What I've learned is that we have to be gentle on ourselves and others when it comes to the decrease in support.  It's hard not to feel bitter, speaking for myself, but we must reflect on our own support for others to empathize with others knowing we are all human.  I have used this experience to reach out to others giving them a shoulder, lending an ear, and supporting them in whatever way they need.  I hear about someone losing a child and I reach out immediately letting them know that IF they need me, I am always here.

We are all members of a club none of us signed up for but we must stick together.  Holding each other up helps our healing and makes it possible for the world to be our friend again.