Responding to a Grieving Mother

Since I have been back to work for a month now, I have had a couple of conversations with people about why I was out of work for 7 weeks.

For my job I go out to schools and teach parent engagement classes, because of this numerous people knew that I was pregnant and that I would leaving the office and other staff would be teaching in my stead. Upon my return to work I started to receive congratulations for the birth of my son. The first phone call where I had gotten a congratulatory phrase, it was at the end of the conversation and I didn’t have to heart to make the end awkward, so all I said was “Thanks” and hung up the phone.

As I started to go teach more classes, I become “comfortable” saying “oh, I lost my son”… que the awkward pauses, and apologies, and I’m so sorry. Then proceeding to… “well, you can have more”….

I have read and heard on more than one occasion when grieving mothers have heard this response or the all the familiar “at least you have your kids at home”. These statements don’t make the loss of child go away, or change, or ease the pain. They actually hurt more! With this response you are shoving my loss in the trash, you are saying, “well, your son is dead, but you can replace him”. I want to believe that’s not what you mean, but it is hard to not take it that way.

I am truly one of the lucky ones that will not have to be considered high risk with my next pregnancy. Not all moms can say that. For some, they do not know if they will ever be pregnant again. You never know what someone else is going through and you cannot assume that even though you have experienced loss, that you know what that person is feeling.

Again, I feel lucky that just after 2 months of not having my son with me, I am able to sit here and write this without a tear in my eye. Have I gone home and cried over the last month, yes. Have gotten “over” my loss, no. Does it still hurt everyday, yes. My way of grieving over my son is to help others on my same path. That’s not how everyone else will respond and THAT IS OKAY!

I do not expect people to know how to respond to me saying that I have lost my son. I honestly don’t need you to say anything. I would love for people to ask me his name, did I get to hold him, how big was he…. Matthew lived! That’s what I want to remember. I have unfortunately become accustomed to what embarrassment, shock, and sadness look like on people faces. I don’t need you to be sad for me, I don’t need you to say sorry, I don’t need you to try and understand what I am going through. I have my husband, sisters and family to do that.

You don’t need to walk around on eggshells with me, you don’t need to worry about how I will take something. I may be broken, but I’m not shattered. If this experience had taught me anything, it’s how strong I am. I do not want other people to determine when I’ll be okay enough to know when they are pregnant, or have given birth. I don’t need someone else to say they can’t say anything in front of me out of fear of how I will react. Eventually, I will have to come to terms with all scenarios thrown at me, but I will be in control of how I react and when I react! I am already tired of feeling guilty of having to tell people that I lost my son. I should not feel bad about telling people that my son died, I cannot control the way people react, but I hope people will learn that it’s okay to say nothing (because there is nothing to say) and move on with the conversation.

Please know that loss moms are not any different from any other mom except that they can hug their children where as other cannot. We still feel joy, happiness, and contentment, don’t be afraid to let us share them with you! We would love it if you did! At least I would!

Some of the ways I have been able to cope recently has been to love on my niece and nephew! They seriously light up my life! Also my coworkers and friends that are pregnant have had conversation with me about my pregnancy with Matthew. Seeing babies doesn’t make me sad, so let me share in yours and their happiness!

Please remember that this my way of grieving and every person is different, please use your knowledge of the person you are speaking with to gauge how the conversation will go. WE ALL GREIVE DIFFERENTLY!


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