Monday, June 17, 2013

What everyone else thinks

I just read some of the criticism I had received a year ago on my blog about Facebook.

When I first read it, I was so overcome with sadness and hurt. Actually, we drove to my parents, and I was so upset, my parents thought someone had died.

Seriously. Not joking.

[In case you ever wondered if your comments leave an impact, and you should choose words carefully when commenting on someone's grief journey-- the answer is a resounding YES!]

But now that a year has gone by, I gave myself permission to reread the hurtful words. In spite of the fact that the hole in my heart is a little less raw, their words still hurt. But at least I can be a little more cerebral about it now.

It's really strange to me that some people are so opinionated on the right way to grieve. As though grief could possibly be the same for every person, in every situation. As though there is a manual for grief, and a very specific timeline.

Apparently (implied by this person) there is a very *short* time period in which its OK to grieve. 4 months? WAY overstepping the bounds of good, Christian grief.

 It's strange that someone could tell me that 4 months outside of my loss of Olivia, that I was essentially (and quite willingly) stuck in my grief. Not just unable to move on to hope and healing. But intentionally not willing.

Like a stubborn donkey standing in his own crap, unwilling to budge but complaining about the smell.

It is bizarre to think that grief could not be "Christian" enough.

It is strange for people to think that by writing a blog about MY feelings -- about asking for what I needed from my friends -- I somehow have the power to hold people hostage in my pain.

Gosh, what a horrible word picture to attribute to someone.

Yep. According that commenter, I'm the guy with the gun. And the woman would be every joyfully, happy pregnant person out there.

Because that's me -- the angry, bitter person that intends to scare the crap out of every pregnant person, waving my pain around like a deadly weapon -- while at the same time keeping everyone else at bay. Who knew!?!?

It is strange that someone feels they have the right to call my grief "filth."  This person may as well have called Olivia "filth." To this person, my honest words are nothing more than trash. And my simple question about blogging is suddenly a twisted plot to make money off of my daughter's death.

Please hear me out on this one thing: I'm seriously not recalling all of this to you because I'm in need of attention, or assurance, or some sort of empathy. Because I'm not.

I'm just thinking it through because THIS IS WHY PEOPLE REMAIN SILENT.

Ignorance paired with a big mouth. Intentional bullying. Bad theology, innocently handed out. An opinion given as fact. Unintentional invalidation.


Not just these words given to me.

But the words give out to every woman who has lost a child. The invalidation of their loss. "It was just tissue." "God needed another angel." "God won't give you more than you can handle." "It's been 1 week -- so are you over it yet?" "I know just how you feel -- my pet hamster died last week."

This is why women feel alone when they grieve. This is why we don't talk about miscarriage! Or stillbirth! Or any death!

Because we are already so stinking vulnerable. Death in some form has stripped all our defenses and made us realize how utterly out of control we truly are. It has proven that love is not enough. That sometimes, we can't fight hard enough to keep our kids alive. That what should be the safest place on earth can actually a harbinger for death.

Not cool.

So you're already down, already scared, and angry and hurt, and here come along these WORDS. The words you try to erase from your mind. The comparisons. The equations that always ends up with you on the lesser end.

I wish those words would stop. I wish somehow, we all just knew exactly the right thing to say to someone in their time of grief. I wish we could all feel safe to share just how much we hurt, without the time lines, the judgments, the assumptions about our character.

I wish that I knew all the right things to say. I wish I was always that safe person. I wish I never hurt people in their pain.

But I'm so not perfect, (soooooooooooooooo not perfect) and I still struggle, too.

The other day, I was at the doctor's, and the nurse practitioner apologized for my miscarriage. "Oh, it's OK," I said much more nonchalantly than I felt. "It's my third in a row, so it should be old-hat to me, right? I should be over it."

"No," she says quietly but heavily. "I've had a miscarriage. You don't ever get over it."

Silly, not-thinking me. To assume that my hurt was the only one in the room that day. That my feelings were the only ones that counted. Perhaps she told me she was sorry, because she desperately meant it. Perhaps she needed me to let her know I was sorry for her too. Perhaps, she needed to hear from someone else her baby mattered. That her baby was not "old-hat."

Perhaps by invalidating my experience -- I had just invalidated hers.

It is so hard to be honest. So easy for all of us to hide.

Those of us who are grieving hide so we don't have to open ourselves up to more hurt. We lie about how we are because somehow, we seem more "ok" that way to everyone else. We nurse our heart silently, because we're so afraid of what everyone else thinks.

And those of us who are watching from the outside hide because we are terrified to further hurt those who already flat-down on their faces. We're afraid of saying the wrong thing -- so we say nothing. We're afraid of the timing, or the delivery, or all the what-ifs.

I get it.

But I also have seen how so much healing has come forth from being honest about where you're at.

And not even just related to grief. But being honest that sometimes being a mom is hard. Sometimes your house is so dirty it's embarrassing. Sometimes your marriage isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Sometimes your relationship with God is riddled by doubt and disbelief.

And I've seen how healing it can be to open your mouth and speak words of life. Words of empathy, and understanding, and love. I know the balm a heartfelt card on a hard day is. I know how a little gift, or a meal, or some time away can be EXACTLY what brings light and hope to our day.

I wish we had a perfect world where words intended to heal never hurt. And where words intended to hurt always healed.

But that's not life.

So in this mess of honesty, and transparency, and grief . . . my real wish is that we can muster up the courage to meaningfully share without building undue walls around our hearts. That we do so with grace -- letting go of expectations that everyone else has to be perfectly supportive. And with mercy -- offering a heart full of forgiveness when that hurtful word (intended or not) is spoken.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a great post. People don't realize how much power there can be in words.

    I was able to give most people the benefit of a doubt when they said hurtful things. Most people mean well, but oh, how I wish everyone just knew the right things to say.

    Grief is such a personal thing, and everyone experiences it differently. There is absolutely no right or wrong way to grieve.

    I pray for a day that women don't have to suffer in silence, that miscarriage isn't a taboo subject, and others acknowledge it as the terrible loss that it is. Thank you for being so open and honest about your journey.