At least you have your two other sons.
At least he didn’t suffer for long.
At least you have a strong marriage.
At least you have a good support system.
While all of these things are in fact true, it is in no way—ever—a helpful thing to say to someone who has lost a child. What it does is actually minimize the loss at hand and can make the bereaved parent feel as if they should feel guilty about grieving their child, and instead (I guess?) prompt them to feel better based on what they do have.
Oh, how we wished it worked that way.
How I wished those two words would be an easy fix and make me feel more at peace with my son’s death. How I wish we could just put a pretty bow on top of the aching pile of grief that fills my days and pulls at my heart as if to say, Here, this will make it better.
But it doesn’t. It won’t.
When those two words are uttered to me, I can feel myself burning on the inside.
But I know, for the most part, it’s stemming from a good place. So, I just let it roll off their tongue and nod my head in hopes the conversation is coming to an end.
I get it. People start grasping for straws, so they try to think of something to say in hopes that maybe it can help pick up the pieces off the floor. I get it. Most people you encounter have not gone through the raw, emotional, gut-wrenching type of loss that is most feared by society. I can see they are just as lost as I am, trying to scramble in finding the right words to say while I stare on helplessly. I get how we live in a world where people want to slap a Band-Aid on a problem or tragedy and move on.
It’s like an A for effort sort of thing, but unfortunately an F for making us feel better.
Go into it knowing it is not possible for you to say things that will make us not feel the way we do. We don’t expect you to. Can never expect you to.
Just be present. Sit with us. Let us talk. Let us cry.
Be honest and tell us there’s nothing you can say to even remotely make it better. Sometimes a hug is worth more than a million words that can ever be said.
I know I’d appreciate that so much more.
Because the reality is, grief makes people uncomfortable.
Like, really uncomfortable. Especially if it’s a loss of a child.
And it’s because it’s every parent’s worst nightmare.
But it’s my reality; and no one is more uncomfortable than the person who lives it.
It’s in people’s nature to see someone who is sad and want to say something to fix them. But this can’t be fixed, we can’t be fixed, nor would we want to.
I will forever live with a piece of my heart missing.
I will forever learn how to be a mommy to my children on earth while also honoring my son in heaven. I will forever wonder who my son would be with every moment that passes by. I will forever cry tears of joy for the milestones my living sons will reach and tears of sadness for the ones my baby boy will miss.
You see, grieving parents are well aware of all they have in their life but it does not justify what is missing. Because what is missing is my third child, my third son.
And there’s no at least in that.
Originally published on the author’s blog