When I lost Olivia it created a wall of awkwardness which surrounded me. I wasn’t sure if people were just uncomfortable with grief or scared to reach out in case I broke. The outcome was that for a long time I was lonely. A few could cross the vast gulf of pain but not many. I not only lost a child but I also lost friends.
Now I feel no bitterness to anyone who walked away. I cannot understand but I can accept, grief is a intense emotional vortex that no body enters through choice. Walking away may have been all some could do.
Yet I do wish there was a list out there that I could have just handed out to all that knew me. Information to help them grasp what I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain.
So after again watching someone walk through the loneliness of grief I decided to attempt my list. I emphasise my list because every journey through grief is unique. There is no right or wrong way to grief, it’s just your way. The way that helps you survive. I’m just hoping that even though it is my list in may help others a little.
So here’s goes…,
1. The most important one, please say our children’s names. Our children have gone but please don’t make us feel that they are forgotten. I love nothing more than to hear my Livvy’s name in conversation to share memories or to comment how she would have loved this moment, this food, anything just say their name. They are still our children, still our lives. #saytheirname
2. Secondly please don’t tell me or any grieving parent that time makes it easier. Let me tell you that 8 years into this journey I know that’s a lot of tosh. I may have become stronger but I promise you it doesn’t get easier. I believe this statement also takes away from our children as if time fades away their memory. No chance.
3. Thirdly Please don’t tell us it’s inappropriate to laugh. It’s ok for me to laugh, I remember not long after losing Livvy I was out with her sisters when something happened that was hilarious and I just laughed at laughed, I remember because someone who was with us commented that it was strange for me to laugh when in grief. Laughter is a wonderful thing it’s also a great release of pain. It also does not take away from the memory, it honours them. Do you really believe that being sad is what our child want for us?
4. Number 4, It’s ok for parents in grief to be sad, their hearts has been broken and there is no time limit on grief. Don’t suggest they should try to be brave or pull themselves together, let them do what they need to do to survive.
5. Still include us in things, ask us out for the meal to the cinema, anywhere, don’t be offended if we say No just always ask and continue to ask. Just asking let’s us no that you care, that you want to spend time with us.
6. Never suggest that we will get over it. This should be a simple one but I can’t count on fingers the amount of times I’ve been asked, ” are you ok now, are you over it”. I don’t think answering WTF is inappropriate in these situations.
7. Be practical, offer to make meals, walk the dog,do the grocery shop. Just be there to help in whichever way we need.
8. If we have other children offer to take them out for the day. Take them to the park, swimming anywhere they can just be kids. They to will be hurting and sometime not thinking helps tremulously.
9. If we need space please give it to us, everyone has there own way of coping. Some need people, some need space. Just respect this and give us the space we need to work through the pain.
10. Don’t give up on us, yes the friend you knew before our loss has gone but please don’t give up on us because whether we realise it or not we really need you to be there. Up front or in the shadows just knowing that we are not alone makes such a difference.